I love Westerns more than I used to because I’m getting older and I’m a guy. Westerns often have to do with a man having to Do What’s Right even though it may not be easy. As I’ve aged, everything in my own life just becomes fuzzier and more ambiguous and it’s not always easy to tell what’s right apart from what’s easy or what’s simply what I’ve always done. So I like the clarity of a cowboy movie. And in real life I almost never get shot so I like the clarity of that as well.
My list has way more modern movies than most lists have. Because I watch more modern movies than older movies. I just do. Call me dumb, call me closed minded. Wait, don’t call me those things, that’s very rude.
No particular order:
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) – Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne. Moral ambiguity. Lee Marvin as the baddy. Watch this one. Never listen to James Taylor’s song about it.
Unforgiven (1992) – Clint Eastwood deals with death and violence and gets all grim in that delicious Clint way. Efforts to make this into a musical comedy (“Totally Forgiven!”) never really panned out.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – That song!
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) – I do believe they gave this movie a really long name to prepare you for the 160 minute running time of the film. This one stars Brad “Go Ahead And Tack On 20 More Minutes” Pitt and Casey Affleck. It’s Affleck who owns the picture, gnawing on some scenery but delivering an interesting take on a hero worshipping bandit with a crush on James/Pitt.
Blazing Saddles (1974) – I’ve always been more a Tim Conway man but Harvey Korman delivers.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – Who among us hasn’t faced down the entire Bolivian army?
High Noon (1952) – I include this because I love the black and white, I love the bleakness of the town, I love the continuous time, I love Grace Kelly. I don’t love Gary Cooper in it. I don’t think he’s all that great. Sorry. Shoot me. Dramatically.
Lone Star (1996) – Because Chris Cooper is why.
3:10 to Yuma (2007) – Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. While hanging out on the set during breaks couldn’t have been all that much fun, this one’s pretty great and underrated. I never saw the 1957 original (oh the old movies are better, blah blah blah) because I’m younger and I see newer movies. THAT’S THE WAY IT IS.
The Magnificent Seven (1960) – A remake of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. This one stars Yul Brynner (also pretty great as a robot cowboy in Westworld) as a guy named Chris. Chris!
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