Top Western Movies, Part 3

Rio Bravo (1959) / Director: Howard Hawks / Stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson
John Wayne is a small-town sheriff who enlists a motley crew against seemingly impossible odds to keep a bad guy’s brother locked up. Influential for its long opening with no dialogue, score, and lack of close-ups. Some feel this is Howard Hawks’s best film.


The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) / Director: Clint Eastwood / Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George, Bill McKinney
In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Union soldiers who murdered the family of the Confederate Josey Wales now are after him. Too bad — for them, for this man is a killing machine, even as he reveals his humanity in the new associations he makes along the way.

My Darling Clementine (1946) / Director: John Ford / Stars: Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan
The gunfight at the O.K. Corral was more than okay as a source for Hollywood adventures. It was a downright muse. John Ford’s lovely film is the best treatment, as U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp (Fonda) makes an unlikely alliance with outlaw Doc Holliday (Mature) in the town of Tombstone to figure out who murdered Wyatt’s brother James. The men have chemistry, and something else in common; Earp’s love interest, Clementine Carter (Darnell), is Holliday’s ex. Here’s the kind of dialogue they share:

Holliday: “I know all about you and your reason for being here.”

Earp: “Heard a lot about you too, Doc. You left your mark around in Deadwood, Denver and places. In fact, a man could almost follow your trail goin’ from graveyard to graveyard.”

Holliday: There’s one herem too, biggest graveyard west of the Rockies. Marshalls and I usually get along much better when we understand that right away.”

Other O.K. takes on the tale:

  • Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) / Director: John Sturges / Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming, Jo Van Fleet
    Lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Doc Holliday form an unlikely alliance that culminates in their participation in the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
  • Tombstone (1985) / Directors: George Costmatos, Kevin Jarre, / Stars: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe
    In this fun and loose interpretation, Val Kilmer steals the show as Doc Holliday, who joins the Earp brothers (led by Wyatt, played by Russell) in their feud with the Clanton clan.


The Professionals (1966) / Director: Richard Brooks / Stars: Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance
A group of mercenaries working for a wealthy rancher finds out that their perilous mission is not what it seems and must look within themselves to find out what they are truly fighting for. And thus a common theme of the Western adventure: in a chaotic time a man can be what he makes himself out to be. Fabulous cast, music (Maurice Jarre) and, of course, scenery.


3:10 to Yuma (2010) / Director: James Mangold / Stars: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe / Writers: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt
Sharing the same set-up as its predecessor film from 1957 (starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin), this remake focuses on a cash-strapped, crippled Civil War vet (Christian Bale) who is compelled to help a posse bring outlaw (Russell Crowe) to the train station in time for the 3:10 train to Yuma, Arizona, so he can make it to his date with execution. A rescue is afoot, but shootouts make strange bedfellows.

{ 0 comments… add one now }