Top 5… Westerns

I used to hate the genre but I have come to love a good western. Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the little known (at least to me) John Wayne western called Chisum. So I thought this would be a good time to list my top 5 from the wild west.

5. True Grit (2010)

Westerns are few and far between these days but when they do appear they tend to be pretty good. Great performances, excellent direction and a fantastic story make this Coen Brothers’ western an instant classic.

4. Rio Bravo

John Wayne and Dean Martin consume the screen in this brilliant sheriff takes on the impossible story. Against all odds a small band of misfits must hang on to a criminal in jail while his brothers attempts to set him free.

3. The Searchers

Indians capture John Wayne’s niece and the rest of the movie is his hunt to track them down and get her back. Stunning cinematography, Wayne in one of his most gritty roles and a suspenseful storyline make this film timeless.

2. The “Dollars” Trilogy

I had to cheat on this one otherwise these three films would take up three of the top five slots! Sergio Leone created three masterpieces that every cinema fan must see. Eastwood is the man with no name who took the crown away from Wayne as the biggest western star. All three are brilliant and this must be the most consistently amazing trilogy of any genre.

1. Once Upon a Time in the West

And Leone grabs the top slot as well. From the iconic opening scene at a train station to the typical Leone ending this film is perfection. Only Charles Bronson as “Harmonica” and Henry Fonda brilliantly cast against type as the bad guy could contend with the haunting Morricone soundtrack and the sublime Leone visuals. A true masterpiece of cinema.

Honourable mentions

  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – A surprisingly good musical western!
  • Pale Rider – Clint Eastwood as a badass preacher
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – A beautiful western epic
  • Dances with Wolves – Kevin Costner’s finest achievement
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – A light-hearted take on the genre
  • The Wild Bunch – Bloody, violent and still brilliant
  • Serenity – A western in space and it works so well
  • Unforgiven – One last visit to the Western for Eastwood and he leaves in style
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  1. From your list, I have seen True Grit, which I thought was brilliant.

    Others I have seen are:
    The Ox-Bow Incident
    The Great Train Robbery

    Definitely lacking films in this genre!

    Are you going to do any others?

  2. Am I going to do any other whats? Top 5 lists? Every Monday!

    • I was thinking genres specifically.
      Oh thanks to Howard I remembered that I’ve seen 3:10 to Yuma (recent version)
      No Country for Old Men is another.

  3. I could go with your verdict mostly there. Although I haven’t seen the new True Grit and I’m not sure Dollars is above The Searchers.

    3.10 to Yuma (original) is a great piece, as is Bad Day at Black Rock (less of a western I guess).

    You also missed of Shane.

    • I’ve not yet seen the original Yuma (the remake was just ok) nor Shane.

      As great as Bad Day at Black Rock is I’m not sure I can count it as a western though!

  4. Damn my typos.

  5. I bought The Searchers a couple of months ago – classis. And the kids and I watched Seven Brides last week, I love old movies but if was great to see the kids enjoying them too – they loved Seven Brides :)

    • One of the best experiences with kids I have had was when I babysitted my nephews (4 & 7) who are into guns, explosions and general boys stuff.

      I put Wizard of Oz on for them to watch despite their complaints. It was amazing to see them go from jumping around to transfixed by a film that was over 70 years old. Some things really are timeless!

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