Picking the 5 Best Westerns was very difficult, but here was my criteria. First, no star could have more than one film. Second, no director could have more than one film. And third, it could not be contemporary western (i.e. No Country for Old Men or Brokeback Mountain). So here goes:
#5: The Searchers
One of the Duke’s best performances in one of John Ford’s best films. Due to the casting of caucasians in red make-up as Native-Americans, the film feels a little dated. But the great story makes up for it.
#4: High Plains Drifter
John Wayne once asked Clint Eastwood if he could make one normal Western. The answer is no. This movie proves why. Among other things, the ending is Surreal.
#3: True Grit (2010)
The dialogue in this film is brilliant, and thanks must be given to the author of the book – Charles Portis. What also must be said is the John Wayne version is equally loyal to the book but is only beaten out by the Coen Brothers update because of the supporting cast and, more importantly, Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross.
#2: The Wild Bunch
In it’s time considered one of the most violent movies ever made. It still holds-up today, especially the small moments of cruelty–a group of children using a magnifying glass to burn ants, for example. A great film about men facing their own oblivion, both from life and their way of life.
#1: Once Upon a Time in the West
Even if you take away the great vistas, performances, and musical score, thanks to one icon shattering moment this film would still be #1 on this list. The best Western ever made was directed by an Italian (Sergio Leone), filmed in Spain, and starred Americans. Though the story can be difficult to follow, this movie is proof positive that a film does not have to be perfect to be great. Watch it and you will see what I mean.
What are your picks?