The Wild West is the true glorification of American. It was a time where the law was determined by who had the best guns, and the skills to use them. The sheriff and the outlaw. The shoot out. The last stand. These are all stories we have seen in multiple genres, but never done to perfection the way we see them in the Western. People had absolute freedom back then, but they also had hard times. Trying to make a life in the wild open plains of this beautiful country comes with it’s fair share of brutality and corruption. Here are the Top 5 Westerns.
5- 3:10 to Yuma
Release Date- 2007
The bad guys always wear black and the good guys always wear white. This concept was personified in the Westerns I watched. But as I got older the detailed lines between these character types began to blur. 3:10 to Yuma is about a good man with a failing farm, a bum leg, and a family to feed; and what he is willing to justify to provide for that family. But the main character is the outlaw that isn’t as evil as you might think. Kurt Russel’s character is a savage leader of a ruthless gang but with a heart that you just cant help but fall in love with. Black Hats were always my favorite.
4- The Quick and The Dead
Release Date- 1995
You cannot think of the old west and not think about shoot-outs. The way Hollywood tells it, this shit happened all the time. You want to avenge a victim, shoot-out. Caught cheating at cards, shoot-out. Someone asked you, shoot-out. Being the quickest hand in the west is almost a requirement for any Western movie hero. This movie is about a sadistic and evil mayor that has turned his town into a colorful competition of murder and vengeance. We get to see several individual stories of characters with different reasons for being in the competition, not all of them by choice. You will root for a handful to win. But more importantly, you’ll want a lot more of them to lose.
3- Django Unchained
Release Date- 2012
A lot of Westerns will mention that times were tough for a lot of people. Day to day life was hard for any man, woman, or child. But also during that time a lot of America still owned African slaves. So Imagine the telling of a story of a hardened man who grew up a slave, fueled by anger in his heart and guided by a noble quest to save his wife. Now put some guns in his hands and the sadistic mind of Quentin Tarantino in the director’s chair. This movie, for all its adult themes and visuals, is a lot of fun. And there’s something satisfying about watching Leonardo DiCaprio play a shit talking, slave owning, borderline cartoony villain.
2- True Grit
Release Date- 2010
Now if you are a big Western fan, then by now you might have realized every single movie so far, including this one, is a remake. Most of the originals might not be known but for sure people are going to get mad that I’m choosing this John Wayne classic. The thing is, you can’t beat Jeff Bridges. I’m not going to get too many fans for this but… John Wayne is over-rated. Jeff Bridges on the other hand gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in this movie. The rest of the cast is exceptional but his chemistry with Hailee Steinfeld makes this film the masterpiece that it is. That and the amazing but sad story we have the unfortunate pleasure of seeing them in.
Release Date- 1993
I’m your Huckleberry. There are many movies I wanted to put on this list, but the number one spot was already decided 15 years ago. Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, along with Doc Holliday, ride into a town and expect to have a fun time settling down. The problem, and really the sad truth of life, is that you never get to rest. Especially in the west. There will always be criminals out there that want to take advantage of the weak and the innocent. The supply of bad guys is endless while the number of warriors always seems to have the disadvantage. The most pure story that can be told through the lens of the Wild West is usually a man’s last. But god damn does the audience always get the best seats to watch.
Movies watched and list rounded up by: Troy Smith
Release Date- 2011
When you think of Westerns, there is a very stereotypical idea of the genre, and animated lizards voiced by Johnny Depp isn’t it. If you haven’t watched this gem, stop reading and get to it. But if you have, then you understand the reason behind the inclusion. This movie is a beautiful telling of the Western story. A stranger walks into town, and cleans up the crime with nothing more then a bullet and a bad attitude. But whats great about this one, besides the beautiful art styles, is the fact it offers to peel back a layer and discuss the genre as a whole and what happened to the real west when civilization caught up to the heroes that helped tame the lawless land.