Westerns are one of my favourite genres of film, sot his was a really difficult list to make. There’s so many great ones! And I’m sure there’s loads I haven’t seen that are equally as great. I love so many of them, hence why there’s quite a few honourable mentions. Trust me, the list could go on and on! Westerns are great. There’s lots of different types of them, they have great characters and actions, often they explore deep stories and dark themes and above all they’re just really cool. So here are my 7 favourites!
7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
A slightly darker western outing for the great western duo of John Ford and John Wayne. James Stewart stars as the man who is wronged by outlaw Lee Marvin and experiences the escalation of Marvin’s conflict with the town. The themes are dark and regretful and the acting is spot on. The story takes some interesting turns as Stewart’s character reveals his story and recounts just how he came to be known as ‘the man who shot Liberty Valance’.
6. The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Controversial I know, favouring the remake over the original. Don’t get me wrong, I do very much like the original, I just think that the newer version flows a bit better and the updated action scenes don’t exactly hurt. Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt head up the great cast and the movie is a whole load of fun. It doesn’t bring too much new to the film except some much needed diversity, but I think it is a good update of a classic film that is at least on par with the original, if not better.
5. Django (1966)
Westerns rarely held back on the violence all that much anyway, but someone who certainly didn’t hold back was Sergio Corbucci. This film is violent as hell and includes an incredible scene of Franco Nero’s quiet, lone hero mowing down an army of bad guys with a minigun tpye weapon. There’s so much death and violence as Django tiptoes the lines between allies and enemies with an evil Major and some Mexican revolutionaries on his quest for revenge. Luis Bacalov’s score is great, the direction is great and the action and violence works really really well in the context of the story. Franco Nero is perfect as the lone hero type and his quest for revenge makes for a perfect story.
4. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
There’s no denying the impact that Sergio Leone had on the western genre, and this film is no different. Featuring two opposed heroes being forced into an uneasy alliance to take down a common enemy, this is a very well crafted story and takes many twists and turns as it plays out to an awesomely staged action climax. Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef are both great as different types of protagonists, whilst Gian Maria Volontè is a perfectly menacing villain for the two. From the music to the story, everything works so amazingly well together.
3. Unforgiven (1992)
Western legend Clint Eastwood bids farewell to the genre with this dark and brutal tale of an old, retired boutny hunter coming back into the fold for one more kill. It’s lovingly crafted and honours the genre that made his name whilst also giving a much darker vision of the old West where violence and regret are the main themes. It’s perfectly sombre and the cast are all incredible. The story is excellent and Eastwood does an amazing job both behind and in front of the camera.
2. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Arguably Leone’s most perfect western, this one lost out on the top spot only marginally. By taking a different approach to the genre and making it slow and tense like a series of dying breaths, Leone’s epic perfectly echoes the states of the characters it features. With great music and a great story, the film just keeps building and building to that final showdown between Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda, two of the finest actors at the time. The opening 10 minute scene alone is amazing, but the film that follows is pure awesomeness.
1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Yep. My favourite film of all time. No surprise it made the top of my list really. Every time you watch it you will notice something new that is really awesome that you hadn’t noticed before. It’s so well directed and shot, the story is so so great and interesting and the characters are acted perfectly. Ennio Morricone’s score is one of the greatest of all time and is as memorable as lots of the standout moments in the film. And even if 3 hours of pure cinema gold is too much for you, it’s all worth it for that 6 minute long standoff at the end between the three leads. Perfection.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
True Grit (2010)
Django Unchained (2012)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)