Culture Rover

#159 - The Cowboy and the Gangster

"Hence Tony finishing out last night's episode sleeping with his gun, just as John Wayne might have in some heroic western." - Maureen Ryan, "The End Is Near For Tony Soprano," Chicago Tribune

Maureen Ryan compares Tony Soprano at the end of the penultimate episode of The Sopranos to John Wayne, but isn't he a bit more like another Tony: Tony Montana at the end of Brian De Palma's 1983, hip-hop celebrated Scarface?

(De Palma's film, starring Al Pacino, was itself, of course, a remake of Howard Hawks's 1932 gangster classic Scarface, featuring yet another Tony, Paul Muni's Antonio "Tony" Camonte.)

At the end of The Blue Comet, we stare with Tony Soprano at the door he is perhaps going to bust out, or more probably through which his enemies will bust in. Will he emerge for his final battle from his private lair with automatic machine gun a-blazing, or will he open that door just to dig into the pizza order rather than Tony Montana's mountain of cocaine?

All this genre referencing puts me in mind of the art historian David Lubin's amazing analysis of the imagery from Jack Ruby's assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald (see Shooting Kennedy: JFK and the Culture of Images). Lubin argues that this image, in which Ruby fires and Detective James R. Leavelle reels back from the pistol, marks the "head-to-head confrontation between two Hollywood genres, crime and western."

In the photo -- and perhaps on The Sopranos as well: "the thug in the fedora overpowers the lawman in the Stetson."

07 June 2007

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