Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Top 10 Westerns

1. The Searchers (Ford, 1956)
2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly* (Leone, 1966)
3. The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah, 1969)
4. Red River (Hawks, 1948)
5. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, 1962)
6. McCabe and Mrs Miller (Altman, 1971)
7. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Peckinpah, 1973)
8. One Eyed Jacks (Brando, 1961)
9. Bad Company (Benton, 1972)
10. Heaven's Gate (Cimino, 1980)

Before you ask, no, there hasn't been a great western made since 1980 (though Dead Man (1995), The Proposition (2005) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) are all pretty damn fine). You can quote me on that. I'm being generous too. I know movie buffs who would say there hasn't been a good one made since 1956. I asked my dad what his favourite was. He said The Outlaw Josey Wales (Eastwood, 1976). I said "Pah!"

*If I was a true cineaste, Leone's majestical Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) would be here instead. As John Boorman noted at the time, 'It is the greatest and the last western.' I've never been a huge fan of it, finding it too self-conscious and post-modern. When watching it, Wim Wenders said he 'felt like a tourist in a Western.' I enjoy The Good, the Bad and the Ugly far more. I love the teaming up of Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Clef. Eli Wallach, in particular, is a revelation. And there's some great set pieces.

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