Western Adventure

Anytime I think of treasure, I often think of treasure out west, that is the American West.  Many of my favorite treasure books tell stories of lost treasure on the western frontier.  Even if it is not treasure, I still like stories about the wild west.  I love the adventure, the romance, the gun play, the good guys versus the bad guy theme.  I grew up watching many westerns:  Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West.  One of the situation cards for Treasure Trove gives a player a chance to draw from one of the six decks of situation cards included in the game.  Of all the hundreds of westerns I have seen, the closing scene in Shane is still probably my favorite, the one where Alan Ladd takes out Jack Palance.  The quickest to draw.

My Favorite Movies

Last week I shared a story of two women who found fortune in searching antique shops when they chanced upon old movie plates used to make movie posters.  The wooden printing plates turned out to be quite valuable.  The women shared that they enjoyed reliving the feeling of seeing many of the movies from the 1950s that they had seen when they were young.  I have some of the same feelings.  I love watching movies.  The best movies ever made, in my opinion, were during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, right when I was growing up.  Consequently, they have had a strong influence on my life.  Are the movies during that time not as realistic as the movies of today?  Perhaps, but I still prefer the romantic and optomistic feeling from the movies that were produced in that period.  It was a very good time in America and I think that was reflected in the movies. The following is a list of my favorite movies with a guess as to what year it was produced and my synopsis of each.

  1. Ben Hur(1959):  A  story of faith.  Judea Ben Hur is a Jew redeemed from the depths of injustice and evil imposed on him by the power of Rome.  His God did not abandon him in his hopeless situation.  A God who does work in the lives of individuals, each person having worth and purpose.  Not just a distant God who created the universe and then sits back immune to our suffering.
  2. Dr. Zhivago (1965):  Romance in the midst of war and overwhelming struggles.  Yuri Zhivago is a Russian doctor and a poet who finds himself on the front in World War I and returns home to a lost way of life as the Russian Revolution occurs.  Cold, hunger, fear, and cruelty cannot squelch his desire for the beautiful things life can offer, including the hope of love, no matter how dark the times are.  All of us want to live life enjoying every moment of beauty, especially the desire to love and be loved.
  3. The Counterfeit Traitor (1960):  Ordinary people caught up in extraordinary times, and trying to confront evil in the process.  A Swedish oilman is reluctantly forced to spy for the allies as he goes on business trips inside the 3rd Reich.  Based on a true story.  He falls in love with his contact within Germany impressed by her character and willingness to sacrifice whatever it takes, possibly her life, to confront Hitler.  As a successful businessman, and one who loved a life of luxury, he thought he could conviently put his conscience in the corner, that is until he met her.  He had to reassess his life’s values.  I have often wondered how I would act if confronted with dire circumstances as they were.          
  4. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956):  A man returning from World War II to the hustle and bustle of New York City is challenged to choose between climbing the corporate ladder or time and devotion to his family.  He also has some demons from the war he has to deal with in the context of his marriage.  It makes me appreciate my wife of 36 years. 
  5. Jason and the Argonauts (1963):  An epic fantasy journey in search of treasure at the ends of the earth as Jacob and his sailors overcome monsters and bigger than life challenges on their quest.  The special effects were quite good for the time in which the movie was made.  I enjoyed watching it with my own kids in the late 1980s.  I still enjoy occasionally watching it.
  6. Them (1954):  A fun cheesy black and white science fiction thriller about   giant ants coming out of the New Mexico desert created by atomic radiation tests.  The bespectacled scientist at the end of the flick says, “when man opened the door to the atomic age he may not have realized what awaits him.”  Another movie I enjoyed sharing with my kids.
  7. The Longest Day (1963):  A film portraying the events of D Day on June 6, 1944.  Lots of action.  I saw it as a kid at the theater when I lived on an Army base.  We were the Americans, we were the good guys and we were go  ing to win.  A very proud and optimistic film about American forces in World War II.  Not too much gore as war films of today, and a feel good movie about our country. It initiated my love of history.
  8. Shane (1953):  It is easy for us to size up and judge others until we have either walked in their shoes or we need them.  Shane is a handsome mysterious stranger on the western frontier who wants to start a new life without the use of his gun.  He hires on to help a family work the land in late 19th century Wyoming only to realize the homesteaders in the valley are being bullied off their land by a greedy  rancher.  In the process of helping them confront the bully, he realizes his way of life is passing but that he cannot change who he is.  I am no Shane, but in all honesty have never found a fit for my life on this earth.  In many ways I am still searching.
  9. A Friendly Persuasion (1957):  A Quaker family living a quiet idyllic life in Southern Indiana is shattered by the trauma of the Civil War.  Do you fight to protect your family, your land, even though in your heart you wish no harm to others.  It makes me want to pause before I get impulsively angry.
  10. Les Miserable (1978):  A timeless story told in theaters and film many times over.  This version with Antony Perkins is my favorite.  It encourages me to strive to be graceful with others.    




     I like westerns. Some of the best movies ever made in my opinion were Westerns such as Shane starring Alan Ladd.  The cast of the Magnificent Seven included stars such as Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, and James Coburn.  How about Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?  As for TV, I can remember dozens of westerns.  On Saturday mornings as a kid I watched Roy Rodgers and a show called Sky King.  The afternoons had The Lone Ranger.  The evenings had guys such as Paladin who was a classy gunslinger, and The Rifleman which had a cool theme song. Gunsmoke was a stalwart running for years.  And then there was Sunday night, that is, Bonanza.

          As a family we were not always able to be together in the evenings as my older brothers got into high school, but from what I remember we were often together on Sunday night watching Bonanza.  When we finally got a color TV I recall how beautiful the colors were on Bonanza.  It also had a good theme song.  Because it showed for many years it creating a bond with its viewers.  I also recall Sunday evenings after church was snack night and we got to eat in front of the TV.  All other nights was at the dinner table.  One of my brothers often made tuna salad while I often heated up a can of ravioli.  The only thing bad about Bonanza was in the back of my brain a voice whispering, “tomorrow is school.”

    I do not submit for extended cable coverage but if I did I would want to receive the Western channel.  Whenever I do watch a Western I still for the most part enjoy them although in more recent years they are too violent and getting a little bit unrealistic such as one man taking on fifty.  

          Westerns bring back a bunch(bonanza) of good memories.  They may be too simplistic for many viewers but I enjoy a theme that has the good and bad element to it as well as a moral to the story.  Toss in a little action, some romance while the good guys lasso the outlaws, and I still think they make for an enjoyable adventure.  When I’m channel surfing I sometimes catch a Western and it seems to make me feel better.  I’m never going to be as tough or as cool as the men depicted in the shows, but I have always thought being a Western action hero was much more plausible than being a Spiderman or Batman.  The rugged individual has always had an allure to me. 

         A board game that entails adventure as well as striking it rich is Treasure Trove.  Lots of bonanzas to be discovered including diamonds, gold, pearls, coins, rare minerals and oil.  Please visit our website at