Thursday, January 23, 2014

My Ten Favorite American Westerns

I realize I haven't written too many new posts lately. That's mainly due to the combination of long days at work and horrible weather (horrible even for Northern Indiana). So I guess it's time for another good old top ten list. The reason I'm only picking American Westerns is that if I didn't, most of the list would be made up of Sergio Leone films.

You might also notice that five of the entries on this list were made in the decade of the 1950s (and one other was released in 1960). The Fifties were definitely the Golden Age of American Western Film. I could come up with a top ten list just from that ten-year period alone.

1. THE SEARCHERS (1955) Directed by John Ford

2. SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) Directed by John Ford
Anyone who thinks John Wayne was a lousy actor should watch this film.

3. THE WILD BUNCH (1969) Directed by Sam Peckinpah
The phrase "Thirty years ahead of its time" gets thrown around too much, but this movie really was thirty years ahead of its time.

4. RIO BRAVO (1959) Directed by Howard Hawks

5. THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976) Directed by Clint Eastwood
This may be Eastwood's best overall film....and yes, I'm including all the recent ones that he's won awards for.

6. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) Directed by John Sturges
The scene where Charles Bronson tells the Mexican village boys that he is a coward, and their fathers are the real heroes, is the greatest explanation of personal responsibility in cinema history. Every American schoolkid should watch that scene (and a lot of American adults, as well).

7. THE NAKED SPUR (1953) Directed by Anthony Mann
In the 1950s James Stewart and Anthony Mann teamed up to make a series of tough, hard Westerns. Every one of them is excellent, but I think this one is the best. It also features a superb performance by the great Robert Ryan.

8. WARLOCK (1959) Directed by Edward Dmytryk
I'm sure a lot of you have never even heard of this title. It concerns a free-agent self-styled "Marshal" (Henry Fonda) who travels from town-to-town and dispenses his own brand of justice with his partner (Anthony Quinn). It's kind of a warped view of the Wyatt Earp-Doc Holiday legend. The great supporting cast includes Richard Widmark, Dorothy Malone....and DeForest Kelley and Frank Gorshin! I highly recommend seeking this one out.

9. RIDE LONESOME (1959) Directed by Budd Boetticher
Just like James Stewart and Anthony Mann, Randolph Scott and Budd Boetticher also worked together on a number of gritty, lean Westerns. This one is my favorite. Also starring Pernell Roberts, James Coburn, and Lee Van Cleef.

10. TOMBSTONE (1993) Directed by George P. Cosmatos
Every American male between the ages of 30 and 70 knows just about every line of dialogue in this movie. This has an incredible once-in-a-lifetime cast, with special recognition to Dana Delaney, who is a personal fave of mine.

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