When I watch a movie, I want entertainment plain and simple; no irritating characters, no dull repetition, and no goofy special effects. My picks for the best westerns of all time were selected for the entertainment value the first time I saw the movie and for all of them being movies I still enjoy viewing on occasions. By the way, is there any plot that hasn’t been made into a Western?
Duel at Diablo (1966) features James Garner and Sidney Poitier who, as an army scout and former army sergeant, while accompanying an army wagon train in the Southwest find themselves taking charge when Apaches attack. It’s perhaps my favorite of favorites.
The Searchers (1956) is John Wayne’s classic film about a former Civil War soldier who spends a good part of a decade searching for his niece who, as a little girl, was taken by “Indians.”
Big Jake (1971) features John Wayne and Richard Boone in this story of an aged rancher and gunfighter who comes out of retirement and with the help of two other sons sets out to avenge the shooting of a third son and to rescue his grandson from kidnappers.
Open Range (2003) Robert Duvall and Kevin Costner are two “free grazers” who after one of their friends is killed proceed to exact vengeance on a local land baron and his hired guns.
True Grit (1969) stars John Wayne in his original Rooster Cogburn role for which he won his lone Academy Award; he deserved it. When a young woman hires Cogburn to track down the killers of her father, Cogburn didn’t count on her coming along.
Unforgiven (1992) stars Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as aged gunmen who journey to Wyoming to kill a man and claim the bounty on his head. Gene Hackman stars as the sheriff who intends to stop them.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) features Robert Redford in the title role as a former soldier who after tiring of living with the mass of humanity journeys into the Rocky Mountains to become mountain man. He ends up becoming a legend.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford in their famous movie duet based on the story of the famed outlaws.
How the West was Won (1962) features about every big name in that era; Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Debbie Reynolds, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda in this epic of the conquest of the American continent as it follows four generations of an American family from 1840 (or thereabout) through the Civil War and into the late 1880s as America continually spreads West. Great music, epic sequences, and good entertainment are found in this flick.
The Cowboys (1972) stars John Wayne and Roscoe Lee Browne as a cattle rancher and his cook. When his cattle hands run off with gold fever, Wayne hires boys to drive his cattle to market. Along the trail, the boys became men. This was perhaps Wayne’s last great movie.
Well, that’s it. “Whata you say to that, Pilgrim?”