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Go West: A Talk with Walter Hill

Hill suggests that the western’s slow decline was probably due to two factors.

Go West: A Talk with Walter Hill
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Walter Hill (48 Hours, Wild Bill) appeared at a Television Critics’ Association press conference to promote his upcoming AMC film Broken Trail, which debuts in July. The four-hour, two-part film stars Robert Duvall and Thomas Haden Church (who were also present) as a veteran rancher and his nephew. The characters drive a herd of cattle from Oregon to Wyoming, then get sidetracked into trying to rescue five immigrant girls who have been sold into prostitution.

Asked why westerns had nearly disappeared from popular culture—particularly on TV, where the genre is represented only by the occasional TNT movie and HBO’s Deadwood, for which Hill directed an Emmy-winning pilot—the filmmaker said, “You’d probably need a sociologist to answer that.” Then he took a shot at it.

“When I was a kid, there was a tremendous saturation of westerns on television,” said Hill. “All things pass.”

Hill suggested that the Western’s slow decline was probably due to two factors: its fairly strict requirements as a genre, and America’s transformation from a rural to an urban society.

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