the wild bunch
the magnificent seven
the 'dollars' trilogy
once upon a time in the west
butch cassidy and the sundance kid
the ox-bow incident
the treasure of sierra madre
to name a few..
the genre is almost extinct if you think about it, the last I saw was Appaloosa and it was average at best. Kevin Costner needs to step up to the plate and churn out another Western epic.
Extinct? There has been a resurgence of the western over the past few years ("The Assassination of Jesse James...", the remake of "3:10 to Yuma", "The Proposition ", the highly underrated "Seraphim Falls", HBO's "Deadwood", Joss Whedon's "Serenity"/"Firefly" and many many others) after the mostly devoid mid and late nineties.
Westerns will never be the top box office draw again for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact the western mythos has spread to other settings and genres. "Star Wars" is a western in space, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" is a contemporary western, "No Country for Old Men" is a western-noir, "Sukiyki Western Django" and "The Good, the Bad and the Weird" are asian tributes, the "Mad Max" films postapocalyptic westerns, etc. The classic western will never again fuel an entire studio's slate but I don't think it has gone extinct and never will.
I thought the idea of Star Wars being a Western in space was quite funny when I first encountered it in film class, but I guess it's true if you start looking for generic elements. (That's why I hesitated to list it here on favourite westerns!)
Han Solo isn't just a wild west outlaw, he dresses like one (boots, vest). Tattooine is a lawless town not unlike tombstone and even has a cantina, barroom brawls, etc. Darth Vader is the ultimate blackhat. Lightsaber duels instead of gun duels. The empire/bankers/city folks are terrorizing the rebel alliance/townsfolks who need a gunslinger/jedi/man with no name to intercede on their behalf. Perilous journeys on spaceships and speeders instead of horses, trains and stagecoaches. A culminating siege where the hopelessly outnumbered yet now properly prepared townsfolk/allience are attacked full force by the bankers/empire.
George Lucas was a HUGE fan of westerns. Hell, even his inspiration for the film, Kurosawa's "The Hidden Fortress", was a Japanese western. "Star Wars" may not exactly be "Stagecoach" in outer space but the western influences are anything but generic.
I don't think "Star Wars" is an orthodox western, but an argument could be made. As I said, the western hasn't disappeared, it has simpy been assimilated. Cowboys, on the other hand, have almost disappeared but they will never ever entirely go away.
I have been avoiding Westerns for a while b/c I had an unfounded bias against them. I recently watched "Magnificent Seven" and really liked it, so I think that I probably would enjoy other westerns as well.
"The Misfits" (one of my faves) is sometimes referred to as a "modern Western", though it doesn't really feel like a Western to me. I've also seen "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" sometimes referred to as a Western and I love that movie too, but to me, it seems to fit more into the Adventure genre than Western. But then again, what do I know? I've already expressed my ignorance when it comes to Westerns.
I know there are so many great films that happen to be Westerns & I definitely don't want to miss out on those. Anyone have any recommendations for someone who wants to get into Westerns but remains a little unsure about them?
Thanks so much AAflixter. I will keep that one in mind. It's actually the one I was thinking that I should probably start with. I've heard such great things about it. I was also considering Stagecoach (1939) as well since it was an early John Ford/John Wayne effort and it helped to revive the genre at the time and led to all the western classics to follow (or so I've heard). I was just unsure if I'd like it or not, but I guess there's only one way to find out :)
No probs greenfruit. Stagecoach is supposed to be a classic too, and I saw clips of it in film class but never got around to watching it. The teacher was always raving about The Searchers so I eventually watched it. There's also High Noon, of course - superb exercise in suspense; and I've always found Grace Kelly very watchable :)
Thanks again for the recommendations. The next time TCM shows High Noon, I will DVR it. I wish they would show The Searchers too but they hardly ever seem to play it, if it all. They probably don't currently have the rights to it or something. But I'm sure it's on Netflix though :) And if anyone has any more recommendations for must-see Westerns (especially for someone who is new to the genre), I'd love to hear them.
i've not been a big fan of westerns in the past either but someone talked me into the good, the bad and the ugly and i'm so glad they did; it's fun, fun, fun :) and the man who shot liberty valance i've loved since a kid. i never get tired of it
I think that the Western is just now coming back into favor, but after the 30s, 40s, and 50s and 5 westerns a week, not to mention TV, you can see where we got a little burnt out with Westerns. I don't have a huge DVD collection of Westerns, but here's what I've got so far.
My Darling Clementine
The Tall Men
The Wild Bunch
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
For a Few Dollars More
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
The Cisco Kid TV series