The most unusual and classic Westerns you should check out

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962)

This one is Fort Lewis College professor and Western expert Mark Brenden’s favorite. It was directed by John Ford, undisputed King of the Genre (“The Searchers,” “Stagecoach”), the man responsible for forming the Hollywood Western template. But this film is more complex and thoughtful than any of Ford’s previous attempts. James Stewart is the sensible, civilized Eastern foil to John Wayne’s lawless Western persona. New Yorker critic Richard Brody dubbed this “the greatest American political movie.”

“Meek’s Cutoff” (2010)

Perhaps the lone Western directed by a woman (clever indie filmmaker Kelly Reichardt), this minimalistic tale stars Michelle Williams as a resolute, bonnet-wearing journeyer on the Oregon Trail.

“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

Ang Lee’s intimate blockbuster ruffled lots of conservative feathers before it was even released, but ultimately won big at the Oscars – and for good reason. As a pair of cowboys in love in the dangerous setting of ’60s Wyoming, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give tender, dauntless performances.

“Bone Tomahawk” (2015)

It’s a good Western year for Kurt Russell, who stars here and also in “The Hateful Eight.” This is a gore-splattered horror-Western with some old-fashioned qualities; but the film definitely updates the genre for the modern age, following four men who set out to rescue captives from a group of savage, “Hills Have Eyes”-inspired cannibals.

“Unforgiven” (1992)

Clint Eastwood is probably the coolest, hippest Western movie star. He both directed and starred in this epic (alongside Morgan Freeman), and it’s one you’ll love even if you don’t like Westerns at all. Ironically, the film rebukes the genre Eastwood himself helped to render wildly popular; offering a critique of the Wild West’s mindless violence.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)

The quintessential bromance/buddy movie, this Western-comedy stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford as a pair of hunky Western besties. It’s light on the violence, heavy on the gimmicks; Butch and Sundance are out to have a good time, not rack up a body count.

“High Noon” (1952)

Starring Gary Cooper, this film’s most striking quality is its real-time plot (literally counting down the minutes ’til – you guessed it – noon). Reprieved from death row, our hero’s nemesis is said to be arriving back in town on the noon train; and Cooper must decide whether to flee with his new wife, or stay and fight. The plot is stark and simple, but the slow-burning tension is impressive.

“McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1971)

Robert Altman’s addition to the Western oeuvre is melancholy and quiet. There’s only one gun fight, and it’s more heartbreaking than exciting. The film stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie as business partners who start a brothel together in the Pacific Northwest, and (sort of) fall in love; but the environment is not one conducive to nurturing affection.

Anya Jaremko-Greenwold


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social Media

Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.


On Key

Related Posts

DGO May 2023 Page 14 Image 0001

The epic stoner coloring book

Grab your markers, blunt, and color to your heart’s content to win some cool weedy prizes We want you to do something that adults never

AR 210529994

Film capsules

Stowaway leaves quite a bit to be desiredMovies set in space are almost as bad as films built around time travel movies. The amount of

AR 210429681

This spring in film

Hypocrisy in the New Space Jam Movie?Nostalgia and outdated pop culture are a heck of a combination, and they’re a combo that generally doesn’t end

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about new articles