Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Top Five Westerns

The Blog posts The Art of Manliness's list — The 17 Best Westerns? — and this response — 23 Favorite Westerns.

My shorter list:
    5. True Grit (2010) — The Coen brothers in each of their movies have captured something uniquely American, and what is more quintessentially American than the Western? They nailed it with this one.

    4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) — Director Sergio Leone said that star Clint Eastwood "had only two facial expressions: one with the hat and one without it." Seems that's all that's needed in a Western.

    3. Unforgiven (1992) — The film in which Clint Eastwood proved that he will be remembered centuries later as a director, not an actor. Moral ambiguity at its most ambiguous.

    2. High Noon (1952) — "Watching 'High Noon' again the other day, I wondered how postwar British culture ever found the strength to continue breathing," begins Brit Clive James in an article I just read a few hours ago — Whither the Hatchet Job? It's that good.

    1. The Searchers (1956) — Speaking earlier of moral ambiguity, John Wayne gives one hell of a performance as a man bent by hatred and the desire of revenge but ultimately on a just mission. Life is not simple, and neither are good Westerns.
Some more:

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Blogger Pints in NYC said...

There was a recent LewRockwell podcast about how older Westerns are pro-big-gov't. Debatable, but worth the listen.

June 5, 2013 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

No Shanandoah?

The Searchers is an amazing film -- what most folks don't realize is that right up to the end, John Wayne isn't playing a good guy. He's playing a bad guy. He isn't going to rescue Natalie Wood's character, he's going to kill her. During the course of his work tracking her down, he shoots a man in the back, does all sorts of non-John Wayne type stuff. One of Wayne's best roles. He was a great bad guy.

June 6, 2013 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

Pints, that was alluded to in one of the posts. Fascinating!

Mark, for me, the baddest bad guy moment was when he shoots out the dead Comanche's eyes.

Reverend Clayton, disgusted, asks him, "What good did that do ya?"

John Wayne's Ethan Edwards answers, "By what you preach, none. But what that Comanche believes, ain't got no eyes, he can't enter the spirit-land. Has to wander forever between the winds. You get it, Reverend."

Now that's hatred. Yet, it shows respect for, even the willingness to entertain, the beliefs of Comanche.

White libruls might say, "How racist!" But a Comanche might say, "He's gone Comanche."

June 6, 2013 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger rjohnlennon said...

I'm somewhat partial towards "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." It's a good story about the way we edit our stories to make them more exciting and more typological than the actual events were. I'll have to check out "The Searchers" though, haven't heard of it before!

June 8, 2013 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger The young fogey said...

I like Shenandoah.

Westerns are one '50s thing I'm not a follower of, but they were a big part of our national myth. Their passing's probably not good.

June 14, 2013 at 10:24 PM  

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