Stream On: Revisionist and neo-Westerns from Kevin Costner

By on June 10, 2021

“Boss” Spearman and Charley, a Civil War veteran with “soldier’s heart” (what we now call PTSD), are open-range cattle drovers that tangle with a land baron who hates “free-grazers.” (IMDb.com)

Kevin Costner loves Westerns, perhaps even more than baseball movies. He was born in California, and grew up in Compton, but at the age of seven he saw the 1962 film How the West Was Won (streaming here), and later said that that film “formed” his childhood. Today he lives on a ranch in Colorado.

He appeared in his first Western, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1985 Silverado (streaming here), two years before his breakout role as Eliot Ness in The Untouchables (streaming), and hasn’t looked back, directing and producing several himself, including the almost-Western Hatfields & McCoys (Stream On) miniseries. This week we’ll look at one Western that he directed, and his current Paramount TV series.

OPEN RANGE [IMDb.com] [trailer]

[Amazon.com; Prime Video; elsewhere] 2003 [R]

The Revisionist Western is a subgenre that subverts the standard format of the Western. The traditional Western follows a standard format centered around a strong, male lead character who leads the forces of a civilized people against the uncivilized forces that stand in their way. This pitted the “good guys,” usually lawmen, against the “bad guys,” usually criminals or Native Americans.

In Open Range we have four outcasts: a free-grazer cattle drover, Boss, who, while remaining on the right side of the common law of grazing, finds himself, his crew and his roving herd of cattle on the wrong side of the court of public opinion, especially that of a landowner and his corrupt marshall. Boss’s crew comprises Charley Waite, a Civil-War veteran and ex-gunslinger haunted by a violent past; Mose, a slow-witted but hardy cowhand; and Button, a Mexican Indian teenager rescued from the streets by Boss.

Open Range begins idyllically, with Boss (Robert Duvall, The Godfather, Lonesome Dove), Charlie (Costner), Mose (Abraham Benrubi, Bosch) and Button (Diego Luna, Narcos: Mexico), moving a cattle herd across beautiful vistas to a stirring musical score. Their supply wagon runs into a ditch and they must camp while they unstick it. Mose, a good-natured bear of a man, and Button horse around with camp tasks while Boss and Charlie pull the wagon out and round up their horses.

When Mose is sent into a nearby town for supplies as they prepare to move out, he runs into trouble with the land baron’s crew, which by movie’s end culminates in a chaotic shootout in the town that’s notable for its credibility: very few of the combatants (save Charley) actually hit what they’re shooting at.

Annette Bening plays a once-in-a-lifetime shot at redemption for Charley, and Kim Coates is a gunman with talents roughly equivalent to Charley’s who is employed by the land baron. 79% critics and 84% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

YELLOWSTONE [official site] [trailer]

[Amazon.com; Prime Video; elsewhere] 2018- [TVMA]

Rip Wheeler, left, is the ranch foreman at the largest contiguous ranch in the country, and land-baron John Dutton’s right-hand man and enforcer. They face threats from a bordering Native reservation, developers, and America’s first national park. (IMDb.com)

Imagine, if you will, Bonanza’s Ben Cartwright crossed with Tony Soprano. Set in contemporary Montana, Yellowstone is the saga of the fictional Yellowstone/Dutton ranch, the largest ranch in the country, and the dysfunctional Dutton family, headed by John Dutton (Costner), another ruthless land baron seeking to preserve his ranch and legacy for his children, all of whom have heavy baggage of their own. His antagonists are the ambitious new chairman of an adjacent Native reservation, Thomas Rainwater; a developer who wants a piece if not more of Dutton’s land; America’s first national park; and his own children.

One son, Kayce (Luke Grimes, American Sniper), has married a Native girl and lives with her and their son on the reservation; he’s a horse trainer. He feels as if he’s fallen between two stools: he’s not unwelcome on the “rez,” but at the end of the day he’s not one of them; still, he doesn’t want to live on the ranch. Dutton’s daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly) had been in Salt Lake City, handling mergers and acquisitions for a huge bank; she recently moved back to the ranch to help her father, but she’s a roaring alcoholic. Dutton’s son Jamie (Wes Bentley, American Beauty) is the ranch’s legal counsel; he wants to run for office, but Dutton resents the time that takes from the ranch. Dutton’s oldest son Lee (Dave Annable) is the Dutton ranch head of security and an agent of the Montana Livestock Commission.

We also spend time in the bunkhouse of the ranch, which Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser), Dutton’s ranch foreman and enforcer, runs, and meet the cowboys and see some unique recruitment techniques. Two new hands sign up in the early seasons; one is the petty criminal son of a friend of Dutton’s, who is as much a cowboy as I am—he serves as an audience proxy for the bunkhouse as he learns on the job.

The first conflict we see is triggered by a herd of Dutton’s cattle wandering onto the reservation. He notices some fencing is missing, and the tribe claims the cows as their own. When Dutton sends cattle agents including his son Lee to the res to collect them (Dutton is Montana Livestock Commissioner) a deadly firefight erupts between the agents and the reservation police.

Yellowstone is a compelling epic ensemble saga from the bunkhouse to the boardroom featuring family drama, political struggles, and hostile takeovers, against the backdrop of the magnificent vistas and big sky of Montana. In its scope it really is like The Sopranos with cowboys and Indians.

Next time, Mile-high Bob Denver: Dobie Gillis and Gilligan’s Island.

(Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon’s prices.)

Click here for more Stream On: What to watch on TV columns by Pete Hummers.


Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room (https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b) after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

Clint Hardison is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Dare EMS – Phase 2 Pre-Bid Conference

Time: Dec 6, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 823 9069 2985

One tap mobile

+17866351003,,82390692985# US (Miami)

+13126266799,,82390692985# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location

  • +1 786 635 1003 US (Miami)
  • +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
  • +1 470 250 9358 US (Atlanta)
  • +1 646 518 9805 US (New York)
  • +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
  • +1 213 338 8477 US (Los Angeles)

Meeting ID: 823 9069 2985

Find your local number: https://barnhillcontracting.zoom.us/u/kbYOel03V

Join by SIP

Join by H.323

  • (US West)
  • (US East)

Meeting ID: 823 9069 2985



Comments are closed.