My Top 20 Favorite Westerns, Pard'ner
368 7.1 7.220. Pale Rider (1985)
Yet another entry into the genre for the venerable Mr. Eastwood and yet another one where he portrays a mysterious man who rides into town to save the day from rough-riding thugs who have a penchant for terrorizing the locals. If it weren't for the lengthy timespan between Pale Rider and Clint's 1973 cowboy outing as the High Plains Drifter, it'd be really easy to get the two flicks mixed up. Many of the basic elements of both movie premises are similar enough, with the major difference being that in Drifter he plays a Man-With-No-Name from "Hell", whereas in Rider he plays a heaven-sent "Preacher-With-No-Name from hell. Nevermind the fact that we've seen a similiar elements all chapters of the Dollars trilogy. Though, now that I think about it, PR's story also seems to have the distinction of edging towards some kind of grittier update one of the most classics of westerns, Shane.
At the end of the day though, it's still a solid Eastern shoot-em-up despite the rerunning of certain formulas. Because, while not all of Clint's cowboy movies were great, IMO, none of 'em were bad either, including this one. For the 80's, Pale Rider helps to fill in a quota of cinema iconography that we've gotten used to seeing in the 60's & in the 70's; the shadowy, roughly cut visage of Eastwood's face under a dusty cowboy hat with silently gritted teeth, ready to dish out some six-shooting justice to any "black-hatted" hombre lookin' to stir up some trouble.
835 7.3 7.719. Blazing Saddles (1974)
After the primary law enforcer of a small frontiers town is killed, the locals must come to grips with the fact that's there's a new sheriff in town. His name is Black Bart, and the black part of his name is not because of his rep. It's up to him to win over the confidence of the frighten citizens of Rock Ridge & stop the new railroad from putting the town full of Johnsons off of the map.
This is one of those movies that I have fond memories of watching and immensely enjoying when I was a little kid. Mel Brooks' penchant for getting a laugh from his audiences by throwing everything but the kitchen sink was exactly the type of humor that appealed to the sensibilities of my age back then. These days, while the laughs aren't as hardy whenever I watch a Brook farce, there's still enough in the satirical content & racial undertones of Blazing Saddles to make my now grown-up ass crack a chuckle or two.
120 7.3 7.318. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
....around the old oak tree.
If you'll notice, there's a lack of old skool westerns on this list.
It's not because I have anything against any of the early B&W's or any the John Wayne classics. It's just that it's been such a long time since I watched any of them, that I can barely remember which ones, let alone how any of 'em would rank on my list.
One of the few that I have watched recently is Yellow Ribbon, & that's why it's one of the oldies that managed to make a rare mark as one of my faves.
As time goes on, & I familiarize myself with those shoot-em-up oldies, hopefully, I'll be able to update this list by including more of the classics.
1406 7.4 7.817. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
326 7.2 7.616. High Plains Drifter (1973)
From the high plains comes a mysterious drifter with enough gun gusto to make the small mining town of Lago take notice. So the towns people decide to hire this man with no name as their protector. But soon find themselves not just at his mercy, but also within his own personal version of Hell.
For me, the 70's wouldn't be the 70's without a good ol' cowboy Clint shoot 'em up or a Harry Callahan shoot 'em down.
Whether it be on the tough streets of San Francisco or the high plains of the Wild West, while most guns spelled trouble, only CE's were big enough to spell "vengeance".
129 7.4 7.615. The Shootist (1976)
Inarguably, the two most iconic figures in Western films are John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. And both of these actors, despite being able to stretch themselves in other kinds of roles, both starred in excellent cowboy films during their golden years (obviously, when I say golden, I mean when they were at a later age, not in reference to their careers, since golden means something different in that perspective) as aging gunfighters with dark pasts. 1992's Unforgiven was Eastwood's foray as an ex-gunslinging geezer, while for the Duke it was The Shootist, released in 1976.
It was Wayne's last film, and in it he portrays a ruff 'n' gruff cowpoke who is dying of cancer. He decides that, rather than withering away like the dusty decline that is transpiring in the former Wild West that he knew, he wishes to go out in a blaze of glory. Initiating steps that will lead to settling a few lingering scores, he prepares for what he hopes will be one last gun-blazing shoot-out.
847 6.4 6.914. Maverick (1994)
An excellent update that effectively captures the style that gave the original series of Maverick it's distinctive feel that separated it from other western series at the time.
Mel Gibson does a capable job of modernizing the lead character,
while Jodie Foster shows that for someone who has developed a reputation as a serious award winning actress, she can also fit comfortably into a light comedy roll as a sultry Southern Belle whose ability to nick is equals in her power to allure.
413 7.6 7.913. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
Typical Clint Eastwood western fare, but now with an American Native sage-like partner.
However, despite being forced to side up with a "Social-Conscious National Regret" themed quota filler that had seemed to become a fixture of the modern cowboy flick at this time,
Eastwood still manages to carry an 1870's machismo chip on his shoulder, talk thru incessantly gritted teeth, & wield a couple of long-ass six-shooters like they were just a natural extension of what makes Josey Wales such an outlaw to begin with.
592 8.1 8.112. The Wild Bunch (1969)
Yet another western film influenced by the eastern theme of the Seven Samurai, this one involving a group of past their prime cowboy warriors who live in a world that has left them behind. Out to make one last score, they blaze their way down to a mexican stand-off where it's the old take on the new, six-shooters against the machine gun.
And while it may seem that this Mexican stand-off has it's "heroes, Pike & Co., severely out-numbered & over-powered, since the Wild Bunch were never ones to wear white hats, they decide that if they're gonna go down, then they're gonna make sure that they take as down as many of the other guys with 'em as they can.
A really cool, not to mention, a pretty violent-for-it's-time western/action flick.
711 7.5 7.711. Tombstone (1993)
Tombstone may not exactly be the purist western of modern times, but for my money, it's one of the coolest lookin' ones.
Mostly because of Val Kilmer's performance than anything else. As Doc Holliday, he steals every scene that he occupies in this movie account of Wyatt Earp & Co.'s shootout at the O.K. Coral (a depiction, from what I understand, that allows itself plenty of liberties). Kilmer's portrayal as a sureshot who alcoholism doesn't seem to affect his aim too much, remains memorable in this film as one of the coolest cowboys in recent film history. Sure, he might not be the kind of doctor you'd expect to make house calls,
but when it comes to watching your back during a gunfight,
he'll be your huckleberry.
248 7.5 7.610. Little Big Man (1970)
A sort of western film that tells a folkish tale of epic proportions as we follow the life & times of a man from the time when he was little up until he was big.
Dustin Hoffman, at his "biggest" plays the little man known as Jack Crabb.
As an adopted Cheyenne son, doggy medicine salesman, lucky-ass husband, Custer Cavalry muleskinner, trapper, hermit & fastest gunslinger in the west, Crabb leads a life that shows that the history of the old Frontier wears many hats. And not all of 'em were white.
303 6.9 7.49. Open Range (2003)
Kevin Costner & Robert Duvall make a partnership that is the center of Open Range. Just a good solid cowboy flick that feels like a genuine modern update of the genre that has become an American classic.
I remember that when I went to go see Open Range, after watching so many films at the time, which while on average were pretty good, were still of the standard genres that seem to occupy the majority of screens in theatres these days,
So when a "period piece" like a good solid western comes into my life, it tends to feel like a good shot into my movie-viewing system,
1065 8 8.38. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
1096 7.8 87. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Fueled with the advent of the spaghetti westerns, the icon of the cowboy had begun to evolve into a more complex figure, of the quiet lone wolf who's only identity traits were marked by the mystery of his identity & by the grit of his character.
Thus began this particular sub-genre within a genre, which eventually lead to A Fistful Of Dollers, & even more later on, to a memorable trilogy of an non-American telling of an American icon.
2355 8.5 96. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
At the outset of the first western movies, the cowboy characters had been categorized between two basic types: Those who wore the white hats, & those who wore the black ones.
As time passed though, the hat colors began to blur between who was good, who was bad, & then to eventually who was just plain ugly.
This is the final film in the "Man With No Name" trilogy, and IMO, its the best & most definitive one of the three.
Although several iconic figures have emerged from the dust & grit of the spaghetti westerns that emerged in the 60's, the truth is, it's almost impossible to envision the entire genre, let alone this particular series & not see of the iconic trio of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef & Eli Wallach.
518 7.9 8.25. High Noon (1952)
Real time in the Old West.
A simple tale of suspense building tension, as a newly wed marshall must make a decision between a new life by flying the Coop, or staying and standing as a "lone star" until the strike of twelve, in a town that has turned its back against him.
High Noon is a film that for me, falls under the category of being based more on sentimental value than anything else since it was one the first black & white cowboy flicks I saw & enjoyed as a kid.
1029 7.9 8.24. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The first example of the lightning captured in a bottle that is the Newman & Redford combo. I like Paul Newman's portrayal of his character more thoughout in this movie than in the role he played for in the Sting. The chemistry of friendship between he & Robert Redford is more palpable in this film as we get to see more of him as Butch Cassidy & the relationship with his fellow bank robber, Harry Longabaugh.
The direction, screenplay, music & just over-all tone was really different for the period that this movie initially came out in, & for me, makes it a really unique western that is both lotsa of fun & tragic at the same time.
The fact that I made this list makes it obvious that I believe of all of these films to be classics in the field of cowboy flicks,
but it's starts with this movie, along with the others films that lead to number #1 that excited me enough to make me switch over from the mentality that I had as a child that most works from the genre were usually just the same ol' boring standard shoot 'em ups.
507 7.5 7.83. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Y'know, there may be cowboy movies that are better filmed, with stories that are better written, that capture the western history more accurately, that have an impact that is more poignant or even have characters that are more iconic.
But very few other cowboy flicks (those being a couple of them that were made with a dash of spaghetti sauce on 'em) were more bad-ass than this one.
1772 7.3 82. Dances with Wolves (1990)
1550 8 8.31. Unforgiven (1992)
"That's right. I'm Will Munny and I've killed women and children. I've killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you, Little Bill......"
He was once a real tough hombre who was good with a gun & never hesitated to use it.
But now, after so many years of trying to build a "normal life" away from that of a gunslinger, Will Munny comes to realize that when times get hard, and all the right buttons get pushed, the habits of a killer are just like riding a horse. You never forget. And you don't hesitate.
The manner in which the icon of the ol' western gunslinger is portrayed here,
as a man with a mysterious past which he would preferred forgotten, yet soon ultimately, comes to rely on for the survival of the redemptive life he has built, shows how this film could've also been called The Final Chapter Of The Man With No Name, But Now We've Given Him A Name.... Punk.
People who voted for this also voted for