10 Great Western Movies
Forget your lone-cowboy-riding-into-the sunset movies. This month we’re watching Westerns with outstanding ensemble casts.
The fabled gunfight at the OK Corral gets the all-star treatment, with Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Charlton Heston and Jason Priestley riding into town, each sporting the rootin’-est, tootin’-est moustache of their motion picture careers. Watch out for blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em cameos by Billy Zane, Billy Bob Thorton and Terry O’Quinn (the weird bald guy from Lost).
2. YOUNG GUNS
Emilio Estevez stars as Billy the Kid, but he almost gets lost in the crowd of law-breaking Brat Pack cowboys (Keifer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen and Dermoy Mulroney). The Jon Bon Jovi soundtrack rounds off the early-90s cheese factor.
3. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Inspired by the Japanese classic Seven Samurai, this classic sees Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and three other guys defending a Mexican village against Eli Wallach’s gang of bandits. In case you’re wondering why the impoverished villagers are always wearing such freshly-pressed shirts… clean clothes were a requirement of the Mexican censors.
With Kevin Kline, John Cleese, Danny Glover and Jeff Goldblum, you’d imagine it would be a comedy. You’d be half-right… but Scott Glenn, a bunch of horses and a pre-Dances With Wolves Kevin Costner secure its status as a modern Western classic. In case you’re wondering, yes, the church in this movie’s the same one they used in the Guns N Roses “November Rain” video.
5. THE WILD BUNCH
A band of aging cowboys – William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates – bring one last shot of ‘wild’ to the no-longer-wild west in Sam Peckinpah’s outrageously violent classic. According to Hollywood legend, more shots (900 000 – all blanks, hopefully) were fired in the making of this film than in the entire 1914 Mexican Revolution.
6. THE LONG RIDERS
Four sets of actual brothers (James and Stacy Keach, David, Keith and Robert Carradine, Dennis and Randy Quaid, and Nicholas and Christopher Guest) star as the four sets of brothers who made up the Jesse James gang. Tough, violent and uncompromising… and that’s just the Ry Cooder soundtrack.
7. PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID
Another jaw-droppingly violent Sam Peckinpah classic (this one starts with cowboys using live chickens for target practice), it retells the Old West tale of the titular friends-turned-enemies. James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson take the title roles, with the supporting cast featuring a raft of crusty old-timers, including Jason Robards, Slim Pickens and Harry Dean Stanton… and, strangely enough, Bob Dylan.
8. 3:10 TO YUMA
It’s one of the rarest treasures in the West: a remake that’s actually better than the original. The ensemble cast helps, with Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Foster, Dallas Roberts (from The L-Word and Gretchen Mol bringing Elmore Leonard’s story (of a decent man escorting an outlaw onto a prison train) roaring to life.
9. THE ALAMO
We’re talking about the 1960 John Wayne original, not the misfiring 2004 Billy Bob Thornton remake. Joining Wayne in his flag-waving epic are old-school stars Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey and Frankie Avalon… with the action taking place on a massive set that took two years to build.
10. THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
How’s this for an all-star cast? Russell Crowe, Gene Hackman, Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lance Henriksen, Gary Sinise… heck, even Tobin Bell (the guy who creeped out the world as Jigsaw in the Saw movies) gets his name into the closing credits in this gun-fighter hit.