Friday, May 10, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Wacky Westerns

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ ‌This week, we pair wines with a trio of slightly bent westerns. No deadeye, just wine. 

It's not about wine, but that won't stop us from pairing a wine with 1965's The Hallelujah Trail just a few short paragraphs from now. It's a comedy and a western, all dressed up like a documentary. As one scribe put it back in the day, "all dressed up and nowhere to go." That's how it is with a joke that takes almost three hours to play out.

The story concerns a wagon load of whiskey which is bound for Denver so the winter won't be so dry. There are a number of individuals who hope to stand in the way of that delivery, and that's where the comedy comes in. To me, Burt Lancaster and Lee Remick don't seem to lean in the direction of laughs. Jim Hutton and Pamela Tiffin strike me as better equipped to handle some whiskey wagon humor. 

As for the rest of the cast, my god, it's like a meeting of Character Actors Anonymous. Donald Pleasence, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Helen Kleeb, Dub Taylor, Whit Bissell. There couldn't have been any other movies being made while this one was shooting. Everyone was here. 

Canadian winery Hidden Chapel makes a Viognier called Hallelujah, which is grown and made in British Columbia, in the south Okanagan Valley. It runs just under $30 a bottle. 

Support Your Local Gunfighter was 1971's answer to Support Your Local Sheriff!, which hit the screens a couple of years earlier. It stars James Garner, who lifted the comic western to an art form and carried it into more modern themes, like a detective who lives in a trailer on the Malibu beach and drives a hot car. 

Suzanne Pleshette is in the movie as Garner's love interest, while a whole host of character actors populate the cast list. Let's see, there's Harry Morgan, Jack Elam, Joan Blondell, Ellen Corby, (stop me if I'm going too fast), Dub Taylor (again) and even an uncredited Chuck Connors appearance. 

Garner plays a devil-may-care old-West gambler. Go figure how that ever popped into anyone's head. Does the name Maverick ring any bells? In this scenario, he’s on a train with a woman to whom he's supposed to be getting hitched. Cooling on the idea, he bails out of the relationship in Whatever This Town is Where I Am Right Now.

He decides to stick around, and for some reason he takes on the identity of a well-known gunslinger. Of course, said gunman comes to town and it's western farce comedy time. The film gets a bit of a bad rap as being a throwaway, cookie-cutter comedy. It does seem, however, that the more time passes the better the movie looks. 

You probably can't find any of the wine called Chateau Jimbeaux that came from James Garner's Santa Ynez Valley vineyard. He sold the estate about a quarter of a century ago. You could cast an eye towards Australia's Barossa Valley, home to Rockford Wines. No beach, no hot car, and you have to email them to order.

After more than 30 years away from the big screen, The Lone Ranger rode back into celluloid in 2013. Armie Hammer plays the masked man and Johnny Depp is Tonto, who narrates the story as an old man. Speaking of the mask, how is that supposed to hide anyone's identity? I've seen ballroom masks on sticks that served that purpose better. I've always thought he should have had a luchador mask. Nobody will recognize you in one of those. And, considering some of the allegations that have been made against Hammer by women, perhaps a mask is not a bad idea for him. 

Anyway, Tonto's tale involves the expected silver bullet as well as a mountain full of silver ore, which Tonto trades away for a pocket watch. Another bad deal for the Native Americans. Tonto had better watch his back. He gives a silver bullet to the boy who has been listening to his story. I'm sure there must be some law against giving a kid ammunition, silver or not.

California winemaker Randall Grahm was once known as The Rhône Ranger, back when Cali wine made from Rhône grapes was considered a pretty mavericky thing to do. I tend to like the Bonny Doon Vineyards Picpoul, and Le Cigare Volant is a longtime favorite of mine. 

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