By Paul Simpson, Rough Guides, £9.99
The Western needs another critical roundup like a horse needs flies. Good job, then, that this Rough Guide to the genre that made John Wayne and Gary Cooper into screen icons doesn’t just talk the talk. Paul Simpson’s occasionally irreverent take on the oater is a joy with (saddle) bags of quick wit: “Britain’s contribution to the Western has been on a par with Switzerland’s contribution to naval warfare.” All the gun-slinging classics are here plus some leftfield choices: check out “Showbiz Western” Heller In Pink Tights or Spaghetti “JFK Western” The Price Of Power (which retells JFK’s assassination via the shooting of President James Garfield in 1881). It’s great value, but be warned... Simpson’s talent for making the little-known sound essential may prompt a DVD splurge.
QUOTE: “If a tombstone was erected every time a critic declared the Western was dead, we’d fill more graveyards than The Man With No Name.”