75 Westerns movies to watch: masterpieces and lesser-known films

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The western is less popular today and is used as an element of a mix of genres, but it has produced some of it over the years most important films in the history of cinema. The western is a genre of film set mainly in the latter half of the 19th century and early 20th century in the western United States, which is called “Old West” or “Wild West”.

The very first films to come from the western genre are a collection of short single-reel silent shorts made in 1894 by Edison Studios at their Black Maria studio in West Orange, New Jersey. 

The earliest known western narrative film is the British short film Kidnapping by Indians, made by Mitchell and Kenyon in Blackburn, England in 1899. The Great Train Robbery (1903, based on the earlier British film A Daring Daylight Burglary), the film of S Porter with Broncho Billy Anderson is often misquoted as the first western. The film’s popularity opened the door for Anderson to become the first western star on the screen; he has made several hundred western film shorts.

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The Success of the Western Movies

The period from the late 1930s to the 1960s has effectively been called the “golden age of the Western”. It is represented by the works of famous directors:

Robert Aldrich – Apache (1954), Vera Cruz (1954).

Budd Boetticher – several Randolph Scott films consisting of The Tall T (1957) and Comanche Station (1960).

Delmer Daves – Broken Arrow (1950), The Last Chariot (1956), 3:10 to Yuma (1957).

Allan Dwan – Silver Lode (1954), Queen Cattle of Montana (1954).

John Ford– Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946), The Searchers (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).

Samuel Fuller – The Race of the Arrow (1957), Forty Guns (1957).

George Roy Hill – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).

Howard Hawks – Red River (1948), Rio Bravo (1959), El Dorado (1966).

Henry King – The Gunman (1950), The Bravados (1958).

Sergio Leone – For a few dollars more (1965), The good, the ugly as the ugly (1966), Once upon a time in the West (1968).

Anthony Mann – Winchester ’73 (1950), The Man from Laramie (1955), The Tin Star (1957).

Sam Peckinpah– Ride the High Country (1962), The Wild Bunch (1969).

Nicholas Ray – Johnny Guitar (1954).

George Stevens: Annie Oakley (1935), Shane (1953).

John Sturges – Firefight at the OK Corral (1957), The Magnificent Seven (1960).

Jacques Tourneur – Canyon Passage (1946), Wichita (1955).

King Vidor – Duel in the Sun (1946), The Man without a Star (1955).

William A. Wellman – The Ox Arch Incident (1943), Yellow Sky (1948).

Fred Zinnemann – High Noon (1952).

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Western movies: Stories and Characters

Stories are often centered around the life of a white, male, nomadic American tramp, cowboy or gunslinger who rides a horse and is armed with a revolver and / or shotgun. Male characters typically wear Stetson hats with a high crown and wide brim, kerchief bandanas, vests and cowboy boots. 

Women are typically cast in supporting roles as a fascinating interest in the male lead; or in support functions as tavern ladies, prostitutes or as wives of chiefs and inhabitants. Various other recurring characters include Native Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, lawmen, fugitive hunters, outlaws, bartenders, traders, bettors, soldiers, and even farmers, ranchers and citizens.

The atmosphere is usually emphasized by a Western song soundtrack, consisting of American folk music and Spanish / Mexican folk music, Native American songs, New Mexico music and rancheras.

Common stories include: building a railroad or telegraph line on the wild frontier. Ranchers who protect their family ranch from thieves or large landowners, or who build a cattle ranch empire. Resource problem such as water or minerals. Stories of revenge, which depend on chasing and searching for someone who has actually been offended. Stories of chivalry fighting Native Americans. Plots of outlaw gangs. Stories of a lawman or a fugitive hunter who finds his prey.

Author and screenwriter Frank Gruber recognized 7 standard stories for westerns:

Union Pacific Tale: The story is about the construction of a railway, a telegraph line, or some other kind of modern innovation or transportation. Wagon stories fall into this category.

Ranch History: History problems risk the ranch of thieves or large landowners attempting to dislodge the owners.

Tale of the Empire: The story includes the development of a cattle ranch empire or an oil empire from the starting point.

Story of Revenge: The plot typically involves a sophisticated chase and search by an offended person, however it could also consist of components of the classic mystery story.

Indian History: The plot focuses on the “subjugation” of the wilderness for the white settlers.

Outlaw tale: gangs of thugs control the action.

History of the marshal: the man of the law and his difficulties also guide history.

Western Movies Locations

Westerns often emphasize the harshness of wilderness and often set the action in a barren, desolate landscape of mountains and deserts. Often, the vast landscape plays an important role, presenting a “mythical vision of the plains and deserts of the American West”. Specific environments include ranches, small frontier towns, saloons, railroads, wilderness, and isolated military forts of the Wild West.

Western Movies Themes

The Lone Ranger, a famous brave lawman, was with a cavalry of 6 Texas Rangers until all but him were eliminated. He enjoyed continuing to be reserved, so he resigned and built a sixth tomb which allegedly contained his body. He fights as a man of the law, wearing a mask, because “outlaws live in a world of fear”.

The Western genre sometimes portrays the conquest of wilderness and the subordination of nature in the name of civilization or the confiscation of the land rights of the original frontier inhabitants, Native Americans. The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor and personal, private or direct justice – “frontier justice” – dispensed with gunfights. The popular perception of the western is a story centered around the life of a semi-nomadic wanderer, usually a gunslinger or cowboy.

In a sense, such main characters could be considered by the literary descendants of the knights errant. Like the cowboy or the gunslinger, the knight-errant of early European tales wandered from area to area on his horse, fighting various kinds of villains without any help from social structures, but motivated only by his code of honor. Like knights errant, western heroes regularly rescue women in distress. Likewise, the main characters of westerns share many characteristics with the ronin in modern Japanese culture.

The western typically takes these elements and uses them to tell simple stories of morality, although some noteworthy examples (e.g. John Ford’s later westerns or Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven about an old hitman) are morally more ambiguous. Westerns often emphasize the harshness and isolation of wilderness and often set the action in a barren, barren landscape. Westerns generally have specific settings, such as isolated ranches, Native American villages, or small border towns with a saloon.

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Western Movies Genre

The term “western”, used to describe a genre of narrative film, appears to have originated with a July 1912 article in Motion Picture World magazine. Most of the features of western films were part of 19th century Western popular fiction and were firmly present before cinema became a popular art form. Western films commonly feature protagonists such as cowboys, gunslingers, and bounty hunters, who are often depicted as semi-nomadic vagabonds wearing Stetson hats, bandanas, spurs and buckskins, using revolvers or shotguns as daily survival tools and as a means of solving problems. disputes using “frontier justice”.

Western films were immensely important in the silent film period (1894-1927). With the advent of sound in 1927-28, major Hollywood studios quickly abandoned westerns, leaving the genre to smaller studios. These smaller companies produced numerous low-budget feature films and serials in the 1930s. 

In the late 1930s, western film was commonly considered a “pulp” genre in Hollywood, however its appeal was revitalized in 1939 by major studio productions such as Dodge City with Errol Flynn, Jesse James with Tyrone Power, Union Pacific starring Joel McCrea, Destry Rides Again with James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, and most notably the John Ford western Stagecoach with John Wayne, which became one of the biggest hits of the year. Released through United Artists, Stagecoach made John Wayne a mainstream celebrity. Wayne had been introduced to audiences 10 years earlier as the male lead in director Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail. After the renewed industrial successes of westerns in the late 1930s, their popularity continued to increase until its peak in the 1950s, when the number of westerns created outstripped all other genres.

Writer and film scholar Eric R. Williams recognizes western films as one of eleven super-genres in the taxonomy of his screenwriters, arguing that all long-running narrative films can be classified according to these super-genres. The other ten super-genres are action, crime, fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, insight into life, sports, thriller, and war. Western films commonly illustrate conflicts with Native Americans. While the earliest Eurocentric westerns regularly portray “Indians” as villains, later westerns, as well as being more culturally neutral, have given Native Americans much more favorable treatment. Various other persistent western motifs include trekking (e.g. The Big Trail) or perilous journeys (e.g. Stagecoach) or outlaw squads intimidating cities like in The Magnificent Seven.

Early westerns were mostly shot in the studio, as in other early Hollywood films, but as filming on location became more common since the 1930s, western producers used desolate corners of Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah or Wyoming. The productions were also shot on location on movie ranches.

After the early 1950s, various widescreen formats such as Cinemascope (1953) and VistaVision used the expanded screen width to display spectacular Western landscapes. John Ford’s use of Monument Valley as an expressive landscape in his films from Stagecoach to Cheyenne Autumn (1965), “presents us with a mythical vision of the plains and deserts of the American West, most memorably embodied in Monument Valley,” with its heights towering above men on horseback, be they settlers, soldiers or Native Americans. “

Here is a list of western films to see, chosen from classics, pioneering early films and masterpieces of the genre not to be missed.

The Great Train Robbery – 1903

As with the dime novels that made its inhabitants heroes and legends, the West was already turning into myth when Porter made this film violent and sharply edited where bandits come to a bad end after robbing a telegraph office (but not before wowing audiences with their audacity and ruthlessness). 

Just Pals – 1920

John Ford was one of the most famous directors in the western category. It defined a lot of what the western was going to be like from the start. It goes without saying that this is an amazing opportunity to find the genesis of the western genre.

The covered wagon – 1923

Western-movies

This is another extremely pioneering silent western that exposes a lot about the beginnings of the genre. In other words, when you enjoy this movie, you get an appearance of real wild west relics! 

The Iron Horse – 1924

Western-movies

This is another of the early films of John Ford, a silent western who remains in the Library of Congress and the National Film Registry. As the name suggests, this film tells the story of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. One scene showing several Chinese guys handling the railroad is done by real retired Central Pacific Railroad workers who helped build the railroad.

Go West – 1925

This comedy reproduces some of the style’s most famous tropes. As a matter of reality, one could quickly see exactly how this film could have influenced the very next film City Slickers. The film was directed and starred by the beloved Buster Keaton.

The Gold Rush – 1925

This is another western comedy from the mid 1920s, but in this case he stars and directs Charlie Chaplin. Similar to Go West, this title is also featured in the Library of Congress and the National Film Registry.

Tumbleweeds- 1925

Despite the era in which it was produced, this western features many of the category’s favorite tropes. If you want to see how it was created genre, this is a fantastic introduction to the very first western movies.

3 Bad man – 1926

This film would surely have inspired director George Lucas who made a little-recognized western in space called Star Wars. Released in 1926 this is certainly one of the best silent westerns.

The Dawn Rider – 1935

Robert N. Bradbury once again coordinated with John Wayne for this classic western. It goes without saying that they both collaborated quite often in the 1930s. 

Fighting Caravans – 1931

Western-movies

This is another western based on a short story by Zane Gray. Although the film stars Gary Cooper (High Noon, The Hanging Tree), it was not highly regarded at the time of its release.

Sagebrush Trail – 1933

There’s nothing particularly surprising about most of these John Wayne films, but it’s certainly wonderful to know that anyone who wants to get into this genre can see a lot of work from the most significant western celebrity of all. 

Riders of Destiny – 1933

If you can’t get enough of John Wayne playing the singing cowboy, this musical western might be for you. 

Randy Rides Alone – 1934

This is yet another traditional John Wayne western, however it is the second best that really stands out. The main reason to enjoy these films is simply to get a feel for the tropes of the western, as in the 1930s and even the 1940s, several films of this genre respected the same basic rhythms that you will find in this one.

Blue Steel – 1934

Another John Wayne Western? This is directed by Robert N. Bradbury, who has also been the director of several other John Wayne westerns. He has made a career of directing films in this style, and while few films have ever stood out from the rest, they are certainly outstanding examples of pre-encoded western films.

The Star Packer – 1934

This is another John Wayne western directed by Robert N. Bradbury, one of several the two worked on in the mid-1930s. . Among the reasons why these films are not usually remembered positively is because they were produced in such a series, many were made every year to please an audience that was hungry for westerns at the time. 

The Man from Utah – 1934

Once again, for this Western, John Wayne and Robert N. Bradbury have collaborated. There isn’t much that draws attention to this title. That said, there’s a reason to check it out: John Wayne’s character really sings in this movie! It is absolutely an intriguing scene that puts the focus on this western.

West of the Divide – 1934

Directed by Robert N. Bradbury and starring John Wayne. Another fantastic opportunity to see one of the most significant names in the genre.

The Trail Beyond – 1934

If you’re still looking for John Wayne, this is another of the very first films of the precious western celebrity. Again directed by Robert N. Bradbury. 

The Lawless Frontier – 1934

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There are enough John Wayne westerns to complete a marathon of films. Although there is absolutely nothing in this western that stands out from the rest. This is another classic title from the 1930s, once again directed by Robert N. Bradbury.

Texas Terror – 1935

This is another John Wayne western directed by Robert N. Bradbury. 

The Desert Trail – 1935

Ready for even more John Wayne? This time she plays a rodeo star wrongly accused of a crime. 

Rainbow Valley – 1935

For this classic western, John Wayne has once again collaborated with Robert N. Bradbury. 

Paradise Canyon – 1935

This is another traditional John Wayne western. Similar to many films he made in the mid-1930s, there is nothing unique or specifically notable about this film, however it has had good reviews.

‘Neath the Arizona Skies – 1934

Western-movies

If you simply can’t watch John Wayne enough, this is another one of his timeless westerns. The ratings for this film aren’t great, but they are somewhat decent.

Oh, Susanna! – 1936

Followers of Gene Autry will not miss this opportunity to see his timeless western. Directed by Joseph Kane, the film is obviously based on the classic folk song, just as Gene Autry sings the melody in this film.

Born to the West – 1937

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This is another John Wayne western, but this time it’s based on a story by Zane Gray. Gray was a famous and even revered Western writer at the time. One of the best western movies of those years.

Billy the Kid Returns – 1938

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In this film, Roy Rogers plays a double who pretends to be Billy the Kid. At the time of its release, reviews were good for this title by Joseph Kane.

Dodge City – 1939

Some of the greatest westerns ever have changed costumes and even style expectations: traditions and assumptions produced by many films that like that the good guys wear white hats, bad guys are instantly recognizable. Dodge City has no interest in subverting any of this. Directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, a group that have had great success with films like Captain Blood and even The Adventures of Robin Hood, the film wants absolutely nothing more than to be a conventional western. Flynn plays a boy forced to fight the cattle thieves of Dodge City. De Havilland plays the woman who loves him and Bruce Cabot plays a lawless scoundrel. The rest, as they say, is created by itself, but the film is so funny that the knowledge of all this does not matter. Curtiz makes brilliant use of Technicolor in addition to a large budget. Any individual new to the western or just wishing to see a western’s Hollywood performed at the highest possible level can start with this movie.

The Arizona Kid – 1939

This is another Roy Rogers film, a rather popular western. 

Stagecoach – 1939

The Western movie that defined the category and made John Wayne a star. Character research with action series combination courtesy of famed stuntman Yakima Canutt, with sensational use of Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah border, the most lonely and recognizable place in western movies. Directed by John Ford.

Santa Fe Trial – 1940

Directed by none other than Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), this western stars both Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood) and Ronald Reagan , who would eventually become president of the United States. 

Young Bill Hickok – 1940

Starring Roy Rogers, this timeless western tells the story of Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Young Bill Hickok was directed by Joseph Kane, one of the best directors of the first western.

Bad Man of Deadwood – 1941

What is wrong with westerns and bad men? Roy Rogers and Joseph Kane teamed up once again for this timeless film. While it’s not the highest rated title on our list, it’s not the most terrible either. 

American Empire – 1942

This western was directed by William C. McGann. He was much better known as a special effects artist in films such as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Key Largo. While not very well known, American Empire has received positive reviews over the years.

Billy the Kid Trapped – 1942

Buster Tiger (Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers in the 25th century) plays Billy the Kid in this traditional western. 

The Outlaw – 1943

Directed and created by the fantastic Howard Hughes, this film is notable for being the breakout role of Jane Russell, as well as for testing the limits of the censorship at the time it was made. Check out the movie poster below and it should also be pretty clear why the censors cared about the movie. 

The Ox-Bow Incident – 1943

Henry Fonda’s hero fails to intervene as 3 innocent males are lynched by a mob for a crime that never happened. Social discourse in a Western setting offered further intensity and resonance to the life experience of Fonda who had actually observed a lynching as a young man. Directed by William A Wellman.

My Pal Trigger – 1946

For all Roy Rogers fans! As the title suggests, this film is about his horse Trigger. This is one of the westerns of that period.

My Darling Clementine – 1946

Lyrical, poetic and also with many iconic scenes that remain long in the memory, such as Fonda relaxing on a porch observing the city, and also his stiff-legged dance with his “reasonable woman” for the pledge of the new Tombstone church. Direct by John Ford.

Angel and the Badman – 1947

It’s hard to go wrong with a John Wayne western, and besides, he not only stars in the film, but he also wrote it . The film was directed by James Edward Grant, who was much better known as a writer. 

Under California Stars – 1948

If you can’t find enough films starring Roy Rogers, check out this classic western. While the reviews for this movie aren’t great, it’s not mis-rated either.

Red River – 1948

Impressive western by a master filmmaker like Howard Hawks offering John Wayne the kind of character he’s most successful at, stubborn and determined cattleman facing extreme danger, even if it means eliminating his adopted son (Montgomery Clift) leading his flock away from him.

Broken Arrow – 1950

If the western genre has an original sin, it is the representation of Native Americans, treated by numerous films as pranksters and subhuman savages at the same time. The threatening depictions have links to some of the ugliest chapters in American history. And likewise, as the nation at large is still evaluating the repercussions of its occupation of the West, the western genre will always have to contend with its most hateful and reckless portrayals. Some films have tried to use remedies, even though they were not normally without their own kind of embarrassment. 

Directed by Delmer Daves, Broken Arrow loses points for casting white actors in most of his Native American roles, a once common technique that is currently outdated. Earn points for weaving a message of tolerance into a powerful fact-based adventure story in which James Stewart plays Tom Jeffords, a former army scout who befriends Apache chief Cochise (Jeff Chandler) and works to defuse the tensions in the city. The film helped push the Western portrayal of Native Americans into more human characters and also, with Winchester ’73, launched the same year, helped validate Stewart as one of the crucial New Year’s characters, thereby giving birth to a kind of more complicated and confrontational western hero.

Winchester ’73 – 1950

A Western by Anthony Mann. James Stewart has proven he can ride, shoot, and even work with top Western icons on his quest to retrieve the legendary shotgun. Fantastic screen villain Dan Duryea plays the mocking and evil Waco Johnnie Dean.

The Gunfighter – 1950

With a motif that resembles a Greek tragedy advancing among Western fantastical clichés, elderly gunslinger Gregory Peck attempts to leave his bloody past behind just to find that there is always one more fussy child to overcome.

Vengeance Valley – 1951

This is one of several films directed by Richard Thorpe, and it is also a notable first role for Burt Lancaster (Birdman of Alcatraz ). Thorpe was the type of director who got along well with a major studio and offered more films every year. While few of them are noteworthy, it is necessary to appreciate an individual with over 180 overall directorial credit films to his name.

Bend of the River – 1952

An Anthony Mann western in which James Stewart and Arthur Kennedy both play former frontier raiders who, in the years following the Civil War, have started creating a new life on the frontier. Mann’s film explores what it takes to redeem the evil deeds of the past as it describes the corrupting influence of wealth, observing the discovery of gold that turns almost everyone into monsters and the Edenic land of Oregon into a land ruled by greed.

High Noon – 1952

Famously regarded as an allegory of McCarthy’s witch hunt in Hollywood, High Noon is primarily to be enjoyed as an essentially real-time western setting, with the difficult lawman Gary Cooper abandoned from his hometown as he faces the bad guys alone. Directed by Fred Zinnemann.

Kansas Pacific – 1953

Played by Sterling Hayden (The Asphalt Jungle, Johnny Guitar), this traditional western tells a story of the Civil War. 

Shane – 1953

beloved adaptation of George Stevens Jack Schaefer’s wonderful story, with Alan Ladd excelling as the buckskin gunslinger trying to hang the his 6-shot gun but discovers that “You can’t live with a murder”. Memorable for many factors, from the Oscar-winning photograph and even Jack Palance’s cheerful scammer to the lump in his throat that still resonates as little Joey begs “Come back, Shane!”.

Vera Cruz – 1954

Western spaghetti did not come out of nowhere. Their precursors include this Robert Aldrich, in which a struggling monetary hacienda owner named Ben (Gary Cooper) tries to save himself in every way by looking for his ton of money in Mexico. There he joins Joe (Burt Lancaster), the suspected leader of a gang of outlaws (a band made up of Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and others), to steal a fortune in gold coins. 

Aldrich brings a surplus of aesthetic flair to a sweat-soaked film in which Cooper’s character looks like a hero just unlike the even worse men around him. Cooper’s tight-lipped efficiency leaves Lancaster plenty of room to play the thief, a guy who can maintain a glamorous offensive the moment he places a bullet in your back.

The Searchers – 1956

The saga of the search for the granddaughter kidnapped by a racist outsider still surprises with its dark power, charm and all-round elegance. Structure, multilayered and awkward, with a huge interpretation of Wayne as the bigoted anti-hero. Direct by John Ford.

The Tall T – 1957

Between 1956 and 1960, director Budd Boetticher, screenwriters Burt Kennedy and Charles Lang and celebrity Randolph Scott collaborated on 6 films that were referred to as the Ranown Cycle: harsh and morally intricate stories of the Old West and the difficulties of being a principled individual while living within it. 

All beautifully crafted and carefully considered. Adapted from a short story by Elmore Leonard, The Tall T is about Scott, an unlucky cowboy who ends up in the middle of a system to redeem money from a wealthy woman (Maureen O’Hara) has just joined a coward. Boetticher keeps the thriller in a film deeply interested in what it means to be a man of honor in impossible scenarios, a battle that Scott shows less with words than with actions and emotions.

The Left Handed Gun – 1958

Years before making Bonnie and Clyde, Penn did something similar for Billy the Kid with The Left Handed Gun. Played by Paul Newman, William Bonney is a trigger-happy hothead who is more misunderstood than evil. Absorbed by a cattle employer, he becomes enraged when a disputed number of ranchers eliminate his boss. 

Anger inevitably causes his downfall, but not before he begins to see his short life become a legend. Starting with a version of Gore Vidal’s Bonney, Penn and Newman treat him as a rebel with an overdeveloped sense of justice and also underdeveloped impulse control. A complicated and nervous character for Newman, who was simply becoming a major movie celebrity, and for Arthur Penn, whose directorial debut captures a director ready to question American misconceptions from the start.

Ride Lonesome – 1959

Boetticher‘s choice, as well as Randolph Scott’s excellent collaboration in seven films, follows Scott’s compulsive pursuit of the stone-faced loner for avenge the murder of his partner. Recorded entirely in the breathtaking areas of the Sierra Nevada and memorable for the traditional western spirit: “There are some things a male just can’t ride.”

Rio Bravo – 1959

Sheriff John Wayne meets an army of thieves with only a drunk, a young gunfighter, and an old cripple on his side. The interaction between Wayne, Dean Martin and Walter Brennan is a joy and even Dino even manages to sing. Signed by Howard Hawks. Great, all-round fun.

The Magnificent Seven – 1960

For his 1954 classic The Seven Samurai, Akira Kurosawa drew inspiration from the American Western, particularly John Ford’s films.’ film Sturges lacks some of the surprise and depth of Kurosawa’s film, but it’s just as funny as the big Hollywood westerns, putting Yul Brynner at the head of a gang of gunfighters (stars include Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James). Coburn) as they defend a Mexican village plagued by bandits under the command of a sadistic leader played by Eli Wallach.

One-Eyed Jacks – 1961

The release of a restored copy in 2016, driven by admirers such as Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, helped confirm what fans of the film had always claimed: Brando knew what he was doing behind the camera. The production was haunted by stories of Brando wasting time waiting for the right lights to appear for a shot, but the film itself confirms his instincts.

The Deadly Companions – 1961

This is a somewhat very early western for Sam Peckinpah, which would ultimately actually be understood by film such as The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue and also Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. At the time he directed this film, he was primarily known for his work on television shows such as The Rifleman and Broken Arrow. This film was the launch of his cinematic direction.

Ride the High Country – 1962

Budd Boetticher moved on from westerns after Comanche Station in 1960, focusing rather on television work and a docudrama about matador Carlos Arruza. Randolph Scott, on the other hand, made another western, the 1962 film Ride the High Country. Scott and Joel McCrea also co-stars in the role of senior cowboys taking on the job of guarding an expedition. gold. They are men who have passed their pinnacle in a world that is surpassing them, and they know it too, yet they are determined to take advantage of their latest journey.

Peckinpah would quickly make films that would disrupt the western genre with their ballet-like violence and dirty vision of the West. Trip the High Country finds him directing many of his themes using a much more typical style and also making use of prominent stars of an almost bygone age. An adorable, silently grieving film would also be one of the last of its kind.

McLintock! – 1963

Billed as a funny western, this film is actually loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. 

Django – 1966

Undoubtedly one of the most influential Spaghetti Westerns not directed by Sergio Leone, Django brings the ugliness and physical violence of Leone’s films to numerous levels for a story which pairs a former Union soldier named Django (Franco Nero) against the Klan and other opponents as well. Sergio Corbucci – who has also added extraordinary titles such as Navajo Joe and The Great Silence to the spaghetti westerns – conducts as Leone without lyricism, with an emphasis on physical violence as well as absurdity. But his method, and also Nero’s efficiency, serve history well, mean and bloody. The film has an official sequel but many informal sequels with titles such as Django, Prepare a Coffin and A Few Dollars for Django. Likewise it has many more imitators who have discovered varying degrees of success by incorporating a mysterious hero with ever-increasing physical violence. The original, however, remains unattainable.

Quién sabe? – 1966

The offshoots of the Spaghetti Western include the Zapata Western, which sets the stories against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution. Unsurprisingly, his writing team includes Franco Solinas, the Marxist co-writer of The Battle of Algiers, but director Damiano Damiani effectively folds the film’s political agenda into a thrilling narrative filled with memorable action scenes that exemplify how popular entertainment can often be the best way to deliver a message.

The Shooting – 1966

Some films never completely surrender to their mysteries. The Shooting, a pair of low-budget westerns that Monte Hellman shot one after another in Utah for Roger Corman, is one of these films. Starting with a screenplay by future Five Easy Pieces author Carole Eastman (who operates under a pseudonym), Hellman transforms the story of two gunfighters (Warren Oates and Will Hutchins) who accompany an unnamed woman (Millie Perkins) across a merciless desert while is chased by a boy in black (a menacing Jack Nicholson).

Artistic and sometimes even abstract, it removes the western down to its core aspects while building towards a mysterious finish in its own method as the ending of Don’t Look Now (or Hellman’s own two-lane asphalt). For a long time, The Shooting seemed almost more like a rumor than a movie. It never went to the movies and was only shown a few times on television. Those who saw it kept its flame alive. 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – 1966

The most famous spaghetti western is an elegant, flamboyant visual delight, centered around the renowned column sound by Ennio Morricone. Extremely influential and avant-garde, boasting numerous extraordinary pieces, consisting of the series of authentic civil battles. Masterpiece by Sergio Leone.

Day of Anger – 1967

The western genre has had a shot of new ideas since the early 1960s thanks to the proliferation of European westerns, many of them made by Italian directors using traits from Italy and Spain that mostly resemble the Old West, not to mention a mix of American and European stars. The master of what would become known as Spaghetti Westerns was Sergio Leone, whose groundbreaking 1964 film, A Fistful of Dollars, turned a television actor named Clint Eastwood into a movie star and helped spark a boom that would lead to hundreds of such films over the next several decades. With their diverse interpretations of American myths, twisted characters, imaginative soundtracks, vivid visuals and violence, the Spaghetti Western has developed into a rich subgenre that could easily fill a top 50 in its own right.

Once Upon a Time in the West – 1968

When audiences overcame Henry Fonda’s shock as a cold-hearted killer, they saw a western full of impressive visuals, and even one that in reality has never been equaled in scope, scale and even ambition. Leone essentially referred to the entire history of westerns in this sensational, massive masterpiece about the advent of the railroad and the modernization of the West. Ennio Morricone’s beautifully evocative score has rarely been matched.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – 1969

An Oscar-laden friends film that creates a fantastic chemistry between Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Combine William Goldman’s glittering discussion and Burt Bacharach’s famous score and we have an irresistible piece from the late 1960s, reinforced by a newfound revisionism. Directed by George Roy Hill.

The Wild Bunch – 1969

Upon its release, Sam Peckinpah‘s artwork garnered notoriety for its degree of violence, and even now the amount of blood and still silly blood. See beyond the allure of slow-motion carnage ballet and it’s also clear that Peckinpah is true to his persistent styles of Old West fatality, as well as modern-day men meeting their own inevitable demise.

Buck and the Preacher – 1972

Watch enough classic westerns and it’s easy to conclude, with a few exceptions, that African Americans have rarely had a role to play in the Old West, or are remained on the sidelines of the stories that defined him. Their chemistry provides a slight counterweight to the film’s exploration of the complicated racial dynamics that defined the West, including the tense deal with Native Americans that never let migrants forget they are just visitors as they traverse their territory.

Little Big Man – 1970

A couple of revisionist westerns have taken it upon themselves to demythologize the West essentially like Arthur Penn, which is told by the 121-year-old Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman, with exceptional aging makeup) trying to set the record by telling a historian what really happened in the Old West. Crabb has an uncommon point of view. A white boy raised by the Cheyenne, in the course of the film shifts between the world of the Native and that of the white Americans, discovering an abundance of absurdity on both sides but too many pretensions and ruthlessness on one. 

The Shootist – 1976

John Wayne may not have actually recognized that the end was near when he agreed to do The Shootist for Don Siegel, but he must having had his suspicions. Wayne, who died in 1979, had been battling cancer cells whereas in the early 1960s and had found that it was progressively difficult to work due to his physical limitations. The story of a gunslinger facing death, The Shootist didn’t start out as an elegiac homage to the star, but it works wonderfully as Wayne’s farewell performance, providing him with a character who has lived long enough to become a western fairytale just to learn. that standing has more disadvantages than advantages. Filled with familiar faces, including James Stewart and John Carradine, and set in 1901, it also captures the death of an era. Wayne’s character, JB Books, ends up being the idol of a teenager named Gillom (Ron Howard), but the film inevitably talks about how the kind of life Books lived has no place in the whole world that is coming.

Blazing Saddles – 1974

Full of deep understanding and love for the traditional western, Blazing Saddles is played by Mel Brooks (as well as a team that included Richard Pryor and Andrew Bergman) fielding all kinds of gags, from the dark and anachronistic sides (“I must have eliminated a lot more boys than Cecil B. DeMille”) at a farts concert. But it might just have been a fun leap if it weren’t for the main social talk in the story of Bart (Cleavon Little), a black boy sent by the corrupt Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) to stir up trouble in the town of Rock Ridge. It’s craziness with a purpose, and the film weaves the jokes and pointy punches with each other in an extraordinary way. Brooks directs with an understanding of exactly how timeless westerns work.

Rage at Dawn – 1955

Randolph Scott went a long way as a western celebrity from the 1930s to the 1960s, and that too is just one of the many films he starred in in this category. Released in 1955, this film was created quite late in Scott’s career, and is not among the most notable examples of his work. In fact, a similar story was later used in the movie Love Me Tender, starring Elvis Presley, and you can most likely assume which one was much more popular as well. 

Mad Dog Morgan – 1976

Featuring Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Blue Velvet), this is one of the more modern westerns on the list. Originally made in Australia, every scene in this film was shot on location. The film was eventually released by Troma on DVD and VHS in the United States.

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