Top Five 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.
- Honorable mention: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) — No shootouts, just a condemnation of mob mentality at a lynching. Too preachy perhaps, but pretty suspenseful.
Two sci-fi movies I loved as a kid that owe a lot to the Western, on set in Oz the other on Io: Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and Outland (1981).
Two great movies set a century earlier than the Western when the area I live in was the frontier: The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Black Robe (1991).