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Strand Theatre presents a weekend Western film festival



Starting Friday, Sept. 20, the Strand Theatre (717 Clay St.) in downtown Vicksburg is hosting a Men of the West film festival.

Running through Sunday, Sept. 22, the festival features four classic Western films, special guest Mitchell Ryan, free popcorn and other programs.

Friday, Sept. 20, see “Bite the Bullet,” directed by Richard Brooks, starting at 7 p.m.

A contrasting group of riders enter a 700-mile horse marathon across Southwest America. Mutual feelings of distrust and a difficult race through the desert puts each rider .to the  test. Filmed in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, the film stars Gene Hackman, James Coburn, Candice Bergen, Ben Johnson, Ian Bannen and Jan-Michael Vincent.

This showing is a tribute to Jan-Michael Vincent who lived in Vicksburg until his death earlier this year.

Saturday, Sept. 21, from 8 a.m. until noon, make your bid to become part of movie history as the Strand holds an open casting call for 12 Westerns in 12 Months. To audition, you must attend in person. No video submissions accepted.

Saturday at 2 p.m., see the film “Man of the West” directed by Anthony Mann.

Gary Cooper, in his last great role, portrays a former outlaw whose past returns to haunt him when he is forced by his old gang to participate in a train robbery. Julie London and Lee J. Cobb co-star. Travis Mills of Running Wild Films provides an Introduction by discussing the connection between this Western and the horror genre.

Saturday at 4 p.m., enjoy a Western short film presentation, featuring two Running Wild Films, “Ranch Hands“ and “The Outlaw, the Sheriff, and the Governor,” and two Western silent classics. Admission is free to this session.

Saturday at 6 p.m., festival pass holders are invited to a reception with actor Mitchell Ryan. Complimentary snacks will be available.

Ryan was featured in festival films ”Monte Walsh” and “High Plains Drifter” and will share memories of those productions with us. He also appeared in dozens of movies and television shows including “Lethal Weapon,” “Electra Glide in Blue,” “The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” “Dark Shadows” and “Dharma and Greg.”

Saturday at 7 p.m. watch “Monte Walsh,” directed by William A. Fraker.

In this western adventure, two aging cowboys find it hard to come to terms with the end of the Wild West. When one is shot by an old adversary, the other sets out on a last adventure to avenge his friend’s death. Filled with richly drawn characters and magnificent photography, the film features Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Palance and Mitchell Ryan. Ryan will provide an introduction and an audience Q&A.

Sunday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m., enjoy a selection of readings from 12 Westerns in 12 Months. Free admission.

Sunday at 6 p.m., catch a free showing of the festival closing film, “High Plains Drifter,” directed by Clint Eastwood

Eastwood’s first Western as both director and star is a revenge tale of a mysterious stranger who rides into a settlement where the citizens beg him to defend them against a group of outlaws. The film features Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Mitchell Ryan and Jack Ging. Ryan again provides an introduction and audience Q&A.

An all-access festival pass is $50. It provides admission to all programming including a patrons-only reception with guest Mitchell Ryan. It also helps support the efforts of the Strand Theatre to bring arts programming to downtown Vicksburg. Tickets for individual movies are $10 each.

Purchase tickets at the Highway 61 Coffeehouse (1101 Washington St.) or online.

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