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Added by The Mighty Celestial on 18 Jun 2009 11:25
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My Top 30 Favorite Westerns, Pard'ner

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People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.3
There's heavily scar-faced aboriginal who's escaped from prison and has a gunful of revenge for the local police and men-folk of the small town of Red Hill. And caught in the middle is a young new police officer who's just transferred from the big city. Only problem is, as the shooting ensues, Cooper starts to realize that trying to figure out who wears the white hats and who wears the black ones, isn't as obvious as it would seem.
An excellently shot modern day Western stand-off set against the highlands of the Australian Outback.

And yeah, I know that I'm probably cheating by putting this movie here since it doesn't actually occur during the time of the Ol' West. But, I read several reviews that described this story as the "modern style Western" that I described it as earlier, and I couldn't resist using Red Hill as a way of rounding out this list to 25.
But if causes any die-hard shoot'em up fans out there to get their chaps in a bundle, then just consider it's entry here more as an honorable mention.
People who added this item 519 Average listal rating (350 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
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 time span 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. Never mind the fact that we've seen a similar 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 and 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.
People who added this item 1138 Average listal rating (787 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
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 and 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 and racial undertones of Blazing Saddles to make my now grown-up ass crack a chuckle or two.
People who added this item 197 Average listal rating (131 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
Robert Redford takes his perfect good looks and tries to convince us that he is a mountain man who tries to live the solitude life of a hunter hermit.
If it wasn't for those pesky Indians getting in the way of his solitude.
Maybe if they would've had the internet back then, he coulda spent his lonely existence coming up with inane lists and putting 'em up here on this site rather than getting into tiffs with the local natives.

People who added this item 1707 Average listal rating (1146 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in a remake of a quality classic cowboy flick, directed by James Mangold (y'know.... the guy who did Girl, Interrupted).

A sly, high falootin' outlaw is captured and must be escorted to a train ride that will take him to face trial. In order put food on the table to feed his family, a struggling rancher accepts the dangerous job. And thus begins a winding journey that will test each man's principles against each other.

TBH, while I liked 3:10 enough to put it on this list, I don't think that I loved it as much as all those positive reviews that it got. It's good solid film-making from all involved, but it just didn't pack that extra down 'n' dirty dynamic that I like in my dusty ditties from the Ol' West.
Still, it does try to improve on the original in an honest way, and it does try bring back to fashion a genre that, at the time, was struggling to climb out of the pit of passe. And for me, it earns extra kudos just for that.
....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, and 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, and I familiarize myself with those shoot-em-up oldies, hopefully, I'll be able to update this list by including more of the classics.
People who added this item 472 Average listal rating (283 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.3
In the days of the Wild, Wild East, the chase is on for a map that could lead to more than just possible riches.
As a remake of the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, I read one review online that described The Good, The Bad, The Weird as an "East meets the West meets the East again" type of western. Which I think is a perfect description for this film.
Following all of the basic elements and tropes of the classic cowboy flicks from the other side of the Pacific, TGTBTW, injects new energy into them and then sprinkles on a layer of the zany, almost abstract asian flair that we usually see from the regions of southern Korea. A combo that works so well, that the expanse of the frontier of the spaghetti western now appears to stretch beyond the horizon, into what could quite possibly be called as the "noodle eastern" film genre.

People who added this item 513 Average listal rating (373 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
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".
Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid is an early 70's western noted more for it behind the scenes conflict between director Sam Peckinpah and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the company responsible for producing the film.
MGM thought it had the last laugh by taking the project away from Peckinpah after it was finished and re-editing it substantially.
The end result was a film that was largely unsuccessful and criticized by the actors involved.
However, time has avenged the director's vision by the release of Peckinpah's original version, thus creating a re-evaluated critique of the film in which it is now generally regarded as one the director's last great films.

People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (143 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6

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.

People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.4
After spending 33 in prison for robbing stagecoaches, Bill Miner enters the 20th century with the old habit of stealing for a living dying harder, despite being an outdated means of income.
With The Grey Fox, the western film genre enters into the modern age of film, as the straightforward white hats vs black hats storylines are completely out of the picture and are replaced by more layered characters who disspell the traditional boundaries of what makes a cowboy a good guy or a bad guy.
Fronted with an enthusiastic portrayal by Richard Farnsworth as a dusty "gentleman thief", this is a movie that finally edges the genre of the Ol' West shoot 'em ups over the line to the modern mode of bronco busting banditry.

People who added this item 1009 Average listal rating (723 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
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.

People who added this item 399 Average listal rating (245 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7
Warren Beatty and Julie Christie team-up in their first of three movies in which they will co-star with each other. In this one, they play John McCabe and Constance Miller respectively, a high-stakes hustler and a high class hooker who decide to double up their talents and go into business together.
Excellently directed by the always reliable Robert Altman, McC & Mrs. M is an Old West ditty that follows the trend of the anti-Western film that had begun the year earlier with works like Little Big Man and Monte Walsh. Following the formula of this then-burgeoning sub-genre, it a perfect example of how when it comes to the liberal attitude toward the typical big screen shoot-em ups, the times they were a'changing.

Back during the post civil War days, Minnie's Haberdashery was a stagecoach loft that acted as a "rest stop" for long distance travelers and as somewhat of a shelter during inclement weather.
One day, during a snowstorm, a group of eight bounty hunters find themselves seeking the haberdashering safety found within the lodge's walls. A space that quickly proves itself to be a bit too constraining for folks filled with the kind of hate that usually comes from that particular occupation's brand of hazardry.

After a string of hit movies, Quentin Tarantino finally hits a snag with The Hateful Eight. However, while not exactly the box office smash that his other recent works were, 8 still had enough Tarantinoisms crammed into it's lofty shelter to satisfy his hardcore fans (of which I am one).
People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.9
It's funny because I always that the vast majority of "cowboy movies" that were made during the golden age of westerns really weren't all that good (particularly those that misrepresented many of Native American tribes as villainous). For my cinematic tastes, the best flicks about the Ol' West are the ones that are being today, particularly during the New Millenium. For several reasons, but one of the major ones is the much more realisric tones that these stories are being told, no matter how fictional their basis are.
Never Grow Old is a good example. The shoot 'em ups aren't that many, but when they do show up, they're set up very effectively, with tense prologues that keep the viewer at the edge at their seat much more than the actual "bangs".
The premise is aged, but it's delivery is very "new", gritty and shows that when it comes to movies about the wild, wild west, the premise never grows old.

People who added this item 621 Average listal rating (411 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
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, and 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.

People who added this item 813 Average listal rating (507 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.9
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 and 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. In other words, with guns ablazin'.
A really cool, not to mention, a pretty violent-for-it's-time western/action flick.

Western horrors are hard to come by in the film world, and good ones are even harder. The few that I've seen are either not very good or tend to lean towards the more abstract, atmospheric type of horror (The Wind from 2019 is an example of this).
For my money, Bone Tomahawk is maybe the best one that I've seen so far. Not only does it stay within the linear storytelling technique that makes it easier for mainstream eyes to absorb, but also, it's a well directed and well acted venture into the dark side of the Ol' West. Kurt Russell, who in his later age, looks like he was made for the western genre, leads a solid cast that is directed by S. Craig Zahler, a modern day rennaisance man of Hollywood that has a signture trope in his movies that is basically a scene of such visceral brutality and sudden realism that it's usually enough for that one scene to carry the terror for the rest of the film. Which is exactly what happens here in Tomahawk.

The sheriff of a small isolated town gathers up a small posse to aid him in a rescue effort for a couple of local residents who have been abducted in the night. Upon discovery of the whereabouts of the kidnapped townfolk, he and his crew are engaged in a conflict for their lives against a clan of primitives so native, the surrounding tribes have no name for them. However, the local "expert" refers to them as "troglodytes", for their habit of savagery, prehistoric demeanor and ferocious appetites.
People who added this item 918 Average listal rating (640 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
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.

People who added this item 377 Average listal rating (234 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6
A sort of western film that tells a folkish tale of epic proportions as we follow the life and 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 and 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.

People who added this item 398 Average listal rating (271 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
Kevin Costner and 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,

People who added this item 2800 Average listal rating (1970 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.4
There's no doubt about it, I am a HUGE fan of Quentin Tarantino. I watched almost all of movies multiple times.
So I probably had unfair expectations for this film, which is QT's first full face dive into Western.
More specifically, Django Unchained is a quality mix of the Western and revenge genres with just a touch of blaxpoitation.
And despite my unfair expectations, Quentin still manages to deliver.ย 
Now don't get me wrong, this isn't his best movie, which I had my fingers crossed it would be since I knew about his love for spaghetti westerns and was hoping that he'd invigorate the genre with Django. THowever, the truth is, while I still love this tale of cowboys and slaves on the run, I also found it to be a little too long in the end (which may be in large part to the absence of Tarantino's long time film editor Sally Menke, who passed away in 2010).
But with the same zeal that he able to pull from his actors in his previous works, Tarantino pulls itย  off again here, with jamie Foxx, Leonardo Dicaprio and yet another award winning effort fro Christopher Waltz. Combined withose performances are Qt's readlly dense plotting, wry and wicked script, and the dusty in your face violenceย  that the director seems to turn up even higher than before, Unchained is yer another installment into a career already filled with his own brand of self-named style of cinema.ย 

The Man With No Name returns, but now, he comes with a name, ("Manco"....?), teams up with a partner (Col. Mortimer) and this time around, is out for more than just a fistful of dollars.

This follow-up to the first Dollars movie is an excellent example that shows that when it comes to starring in Westerns, Clint has begun to develop a taste for cowboy chronicles with a more Oriental flavor, but piled high with spaghetti.

Although his gun had traveled to the Ol' West before, this is the first time when Clint rides his horse into it via a more Italian route.
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 and by the grit of his character.
Thus began this particular sub-genre within a genre, which eventually would lead to A Fistful Of Dollers, and even more later on, to a memorable trilogy that takes a non-American take on a classic American icon.

At the outset of the first western movies, the cowboy characters had been categorized between two basic types: Those who wore the white hats, and those who wore the black ones.
As time passed though, the hat colors began to blur between who was good, who was bad, and 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 and most definitive one of the three.
Although several iconic figures have emerged from the dust and 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 and not see an image of the iconic trio of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.

People who added this item 760 Average listal rating (511 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
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.

Personally, for me, High Noon is one of those films that falls under the category of being based more on sentimental value than anything else. The way the story in this one kept me glued to the screen, to see how it would all pan out, made Noon one the first black and white cowboy flicks I saw and enjoyed as a kid.
The first example of the lightning captured in a bottle that is the Newman and Redford combo. I like Paul Newman's portrayal of his character more though out in this movie than in the role he played for in the Sting. The chemistry of friendship between he ans Robert Redford is more palpable in this film as we get to see more of him as Butch Cassidy and the relationship with his fellow bank robber, Harry Longabaugh.
The direction, screenplay, music and just over-all tone was really different for the period that this movie initially came out in, and for me, makes it a really unique western that is both lotsa of fun and 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.

People who added this item 745 Average listal rating (505 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
A tale of the Ol' West that was inspired by a tale of the even older East.
When it comes to seven gunfighters, it takes a village to get them to band together. And when they do, they are magnificent.

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, for me, very few other cowboy flicks (some of them being the ones that were made with a dash of spaghetti sauce on 'em) were more bad-ass than this one.
And if you disagree, take this into account....
The Magnificent Seven is the second most shown film in U.S. television history (The Wizard of Oz comes in first).
And that's pretty darn tootin'.

People who added this item 2182 Average listal rating (1365 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8

Kevin Costner reaches his career zenith in this non-stereotypical tale of how the West was truly won. A really great movie that really was one of KC's last great movies.
No, seriously.....
If you were to take all the things that were wrong with Coster's follow-up flicks, like Waterworld and the Postman,
irradiate them with the energies that bind, compose and allow the Bizarro world to exist (i.e. "the opposite"), then what you would get would be this movie.
No, seriously....
you would.
I tried it once.

People who added this item 2082 Average listal rating (1365 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.2
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 and wasn't afraid to use it.
But now, after so many years of trying to build a "normal life" away from that of the wild, wild west, Will Munny comes to realize that when times get hard, old habits, even in old cowboys, die hard.
Push all the right buttons, and the habits of a killer are just like riding a bike (or in this case, riding a horse)...... he never forgets.

The manner in which Clint Eastwood portrays the icon of the ol' western gunslinger here, as a man with a mysterious past which he would preferred to be completely forgotten, yet ultimately, as always, it's a past that comes to haunt him. A tortured soul who has become "broken" by domesticity, his demons are bought back to life one more time when he comes to rely on them for the survival of the redemptive life he has built.
Is it any wonder how this film could've easily been been titled "The Final Chapter Of The Man With No Name.... But Now He Given Him A Name."

Updated entries:
- Young Guns
- The Assassination Of Jesse James
- Who Shot Liberty Valance
- The Wind

Other lists by The Mighty Celestial:

My Top 20 Female Movie Bad-Asses www.listal.com/list/my-top-10-female

10 Movies That Feature A Dancin' Travolta In 'Em www.listal.com/list/my-list-9158

My Top 15 Guilty Pleasure Movies www.listal.com/list/guilty-pleasures-thecelestial

Can't We Be Dysfunctional Like A Normal Family? www.listal.com/list/dysfunctional-family-movies

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