BEST WESTERN...Not about motels

What was the best Western movie you ever saw? And what was the biggest disappointment?

My favorite of the genre was actually filmed as a TV miniseries, Lonesome Dove, with Robert Duval, Tommy Lee Jones and Danny Glover among many others. Red River, with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift is my favorite theatrical Western movie. It was black and white, but the cinematography was so good it felt like color.

My biggest disappointment was Unforgiven, which wasn’t a bad film, but it couldn’t live up to its pre-release hype as “the best Western of all time.” I still haven’t gotten through Heaven’s Gate (and according to some Dopers in the Pit I never will :smiley: ).

Of course, I’m talking about “A” movies, here. I still enjoy the corny old “B” oaters I grew up with, starring such lights as Hopalong Cassidy, Bob Steele, Crash Corrigan and Col. Tim McCoy. But they were so similar that their plots all seem to blend into one huge, unending cliche.

I never cared much for those singing cowboys (Rogers and Autrey), but that’s just me.

Shane really impressed me when I first saw it. Some of the scenes (the fistfight in the corral, the killing of Elisha Cook Jr) are beautifully done. I read some criticism of it the other day; the writer said that Ladd’s outfit was too pretty, and that Ladd was physically too small for the role. Those things are true, I guess, but I still like it.

But a few weeks ago I saw Ride The High Country, which really impressed me, so currently that’s my favorite Western. Mrs. R, who normally doesn’t like Westerns very much, was impressed, too, especially by the nightmarish wedding scene.

And I really love Sayles’ Lone Star, which is just fascinating and should have, if there were any justice in the world, resulted in an Oscar for my favorite homely actor, Chris Cooper.

Oh, and how could I forget Rio Grande? Wayne and O’Hara and McLaughlin, oh yes! I only wish it were in color.

More (should contemplate more before hitting the Submit Reply button):

The Little R Girls really love The Paleface and Son of Paleface. Bob Hope is always fun, and Jane Russell is so great as hard-boiled Calamity Jane.

Speaking of Russell, she is sexy as all get-out in The Outlaw, which is actually not too bad a movie…

Speaking of Shane, that critic’s objections were addressed in Pale Rider, which is basically a remake of Shane. Clint Eastwood is both much bigger and much less pretty than Alan Ladd :smiley:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I love Clint like few things in life, and I really like the other two “Man with No Name” movies, but the last one’s definately the best of them. It’s more complex, more cynical, ineffably cool. It’s a treat.

Although I do confess a certain fondness for Paint Your Wagon.

John Wayne and John Ford were an unbeatable combination:


Fort Apache – very underrated. Most people quote from Liberty Valence (“When the legend becomes fact . . .”), but this had Ford showing the same thing.

The Searchers (not my favorite, but many consider it so)

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Have you ever seen Greaser’s Palace ?
Alan Arbus(probably best known as the shrink in the TV series M.A.S.H.) as Jesus in a zoot suit in the old west. Religious allegory-a-go-go. Robert
Downey Jr.'s 1st(uncredited) film role(For you young whippersnappers who always wondered who the heck Robert Downey Sr. is-his daddy was the director).

In the more traditional vein, I also like the corny oldies,but agree that they all blend together.
The TV series I still like are : Have Gun Will Travel &The Rebel. I could probably get horsewhipped for this,but I prefer John Hart to Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger.

How about The Magnificent Seven? Tough to top that one even if it is a samaurai flick in disguise.

I like John Wayne’s later westerns, like The Cowboys. (The movie for which John Wayne should have won an Oscar.)

The Shootist is also classic. Great Jimmy Stewart cameo. (“You’ve got a cancer!”)

True Grit completes my late-career John Wayne triple feature.

Outstanding, but I’d have to go for * the Wild Bunch*

In no special order…

“The Outlaw Josey Wales”


“Once Upon a Time in the West” (Sergio Leone was one of the only directors to grasp what a great villain Henry Fonda could be)

“High Plains Drifter”

“The Ox-Bow Incident”

“Fort Apache”

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, I feel the best western ever made was Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Tim Holt, Walter Brennen and Victor Mature in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine.

The cast is excellent, the direction is wonderful, the plot is excellent and so forth and so on. Everything comes together in this film. There are some people that criticize it because it was filmed in black and white. My contention, however, is that it works better because it was filmed in black and white. The mythic good vs. evil of the western “formula” almost demands the contrast of black and white. At least in this film it does.

It works on so many different levels. If you ever get the chance to see this film on the big screen, you will realize what I am saying.

I also agree that the aforementioned Red River, Ride the High Country (which in my mind conveys his ideas much better than the later Wild Bunch) and Magnificant Seven all should be in the western hall of fame.

Let me throw out one other minor film that doesn’t get mentioned much. It is called Cowboy and it starred Glen Ford, Jack Lemmon and Anthony Quinn. Not the greatest but worth mentioning.

Biggest let down? Russlers’ Rapsody with Tom Berringer. It was billed as an homage to the westerns of old and it did little more than make fun of them. Blazing Saddles did that in a much more classy (and entertaining) way.

My Top 10 (in chronological order):

The Wind (Sjostrom)
Pursued (Walsh)
The Man from Laramie (Mann)
The Searchers (Ford)
Decision at Sundown (Boetticher)
Rio Bravo (Hawks)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Leone)
The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Altman)
Dead Man (Jarmusch)

Special mention must go to the films of Anthony Mann and Budd Boetticher, both of whom I’d take over Ford any day. All their films from the 50s–not only the two listed above but The Naked Spur, Man of the West, Winchester '73, Seven Men from Now, Buchanan Rides Alone, Comanche Station, Bend of the River, The Far Country, The Tall T and Ride Lonesome–are absolutely essential films for any true western lover.

Link to the other thread.

My favorite western was Silverado. I can’t get into much of those older westerns.

** The Good, The Bad & The Ugly**. Hands down. I actually rented the wide-screen DVD last year. My son was home, sick and I realized I’d not seen it in about 25 years.

The LAST time I’d seen it , was projected on a Cinemascope lens system. Thank god for DVD’s. We were mesmerized. Time flew, it’s a LONG movie and is brilliantly shot, paced, acted and cut.

I love it. He did too. I want to own all three. Boy, but it’s really well shot !!!


I used to have “Exactly six miles north of Skagg Mountain in the Valley of Pain, there lives an evil devil-monster. His name is: Bingo gas station motel cheeseburger with a side of aircraft noise and you’ll be Gary, Indiana. And he loves to hurt people. The last time I saw Bingo gas station motel cheeseburger with a side of aircraft noise and you’ll be Gary, Indiana, he told me what he wants to do. He wants to come down here and kill each and every one of you.” in my sig, but the mods made me delete it.

Several fine mentions, but you gotta include High Noon.

Wild Bunch is also quite good.

I, too, would chime in with another vote for The good, the bad and the ugly
I also liked John Wayne in Rio Lobo

He actually did have a name, but I can’t remember which one it was mentioned in. I think it was “Fist Full of Dollars”

His name was “Manko,” which was really funny for me when I watched it with Japanese subtitles. It was pronounced Man, like “hey man”, and ko. But if it’s translated into Japanese that way, well, “manko” is a slang term for, well (why am I getting all embarrrassed about this), it means “pussy.”

I’m laughing right now just remembering it. They changed it to “Monko.”

Lee Van Cleef was great in those, too.

Another one I watched for the firsttime in 15 years or so is Once Upon a Time in the West starring Charles Bronson, Jason Robards and Henry Fonda (who was an odd casting, since he seemed so nice, but deep down he was a nasty prick)

I’ve watched Tombstone–own the video–probably dozens of times, but mostly I fast-forward past the parts that don’t have Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in them!
IMHO that’s the best thing Kilmer ever did.

The Outlaw Josey Wales is always good for a re-watch.

Anything with Tommy Lee Jones is great. I could listen to his Texas accent, and dry-humor delivery, anytime.
That’s what made Lonesome Dove, for me.

OK, here’s my list:

The Wild Bunch
The Magnificent Seven
Dead Man (thanks, ArchiveGuy; I just saw this a few weeks ago, but I loved it! Thanks for reminding me.)
And my favorite, Silverado.

Now, you must keep in mind that I’ve never seen a Clint Eastwood western all the way through (I’m working on my movie repertoire; I realize that this is a failing in me), and I don’t like John Wayne films. Way too macho-heroic for my taste.

I realize all my favorites have been listed before, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.