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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Larry Ryan

What links Harrison Ford to Martin Amis and Emily Blunt?

Go west!

Harrison Ford as Jacob Dutton and Helen MIrren as Cara Dutton in 1923
Hitting our TVs in 1923 is Harrison Ford … Photograph: James Minchin III/Paramount+

The action is the juice, as Tom Sizemore says in Heat. The action and/or juice these days are in prestige TV and streaming rather than film, and we see Harrison Ford make a rare turn towards telly for the western 1923 (on 19 December on Paramount+), alongside Helen Mirren.

Ford focus

Martin Amis in 1986
… who was in Indiana Jones, directed by Steven Spielberg, who wrote the intro to a book by Martin Amis … Photograph: Homer Sykes/Alamy

Ford became one of cinema’s most bankable stars with the help of Star Wars and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones. In a more niche collaboration, in 1982, Spielberg wrote the introduction to Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict’s Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores, and the Best Machines. The book’s unlikely author was one Martin Amis: : “Read this book and learn from young Martin’s horrific odyssey round the world’s arcades before you too become a video-junkie.”

Darts of pleasure

An image of a dart board with The Martin Chronicles written on it
… whose work is assessed in The Martin Chronicles … Photograph: PR

This video gaming study sits oddly in the Amis oeuvre, and spent many years out of circulation, but remained a white whale for Mart-heads and was reprinted in 2018. For further Amis explorations, The Martin Chronicles, a podcast co-hosted by New Yorker critic Parul Sehgal, is slowly reassessing his often polarising work.

Broken English

Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) in recent western The English ...
… his Night Train was adapted to Out of Blue, featuring Toby Jones, who is in The English with Emily Blunt … Photograph: Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios

Not yet discussed is his 1997 hardboiled homage Night Train, which Carol Morley adapted into the “intriguing and perplexing” 2018 film Out of Blue, with Patricia Clarkson as New Orleans detective Mike Hoolihan. Also featured was Toby Jones, who can also be seen among a strong cast led by Emily Blunt in the BBC/Prime series The English. It’s among a spate of recent westerns, including last year’s Oscar-winning The Power of the Dog, directed by Jane Campion, and 1923, the last of which is part of the growing “Taylorverse”.

Enter the Taylorverse

Taylor Sheridan
… Taylor Sheridan created another neo-western Yellowstone, and 1923 is the latest prequel … Photograph: Valéry Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Actor/director/writer/producer Taylor Sheridan created 2018’s Yellowstone, a neo-western drama starring Kevin Costner as the patriarch of the Dutton family. Last year it spawned the prequel 1883, and now comes 1923, a sequel to the prequel, but still a prequel to the original. Two more spinoffs are planned. Sheridan also has Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown on the go. Eventually the Taylorverse will be as vast as the old west itself.

Hell or High Water poster

Pairing notes

Watch Before conquering TV, Sheridan’s screenplay for 2016’s “elegiac Texan western” Hell or High Water earned him an Oscar nomination.

Drink Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton in Yellowstone is a fan favourite. Knock back her choice of vodka: “Double Tito’s, three olives.”

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