Clint Eastwood, Clint Eastwood ... & Johnny Depp? My Favorite WesternsApr 8, 2006 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in MoviesThe Bottom Line Clint Eastwood is my favorite Western actor, this list probably reflects that!
My dad's always been a John Wayne man. Myself, I prefer Clint Eastwood. I will also point out that I have not seen many of the Westerns that were made in the 30s through the 60s, so if your favorite Western isn't here, it could be because I didn't see it. (thanks to Stephen Murray who pointed out a few classics that need to go on my Netflix Queue!) So keeping in mind my slant towards movies released within the last twenty years here is my list for my favorite westerns by year of release:
1. High Noon (1952 starring Gary Cooper) Probably not many Western fans are also Pink Floyd fans, but Roger Waters is a western fan. In the lyrics to Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, Waters sings do you remember Shane? I do. Gary Cooper is Shane in this tale of what courage is in a small Western town.
2. Fistful of Dollars Per un pugno di dollari (1965 written and directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood) The first of the three spaghetti westerns that have come to be known as the Man with No Name Trilogy is a great film. Clint's first role as the anti-hero, in stark contrast to the good guy heroes portrayed by John Wayne. Here he is a lone gunslinger who hires himself out to two warring families in a small western town and profits from both.
3. For a Few Dollars More Per qualche dollaro in piu (1966 written and directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Klaus Kinski) Yes, I enjoyed all three of the Spaghetti westerns, and count all three in my list of favorite westerns. The man with no name returns in this sequel, which actually isn't a sequel at all. Nevertheless, the archtype that Eastwood perfected returns, although again with no name (yet he is credited as Monco).
4. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966 written and directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood) People stare at me on the subway when my cell phone rings. Its not some hip hop tune or a silly sound, it's the unforgettable theme from The good the bad and the ugly oooh wooah waah woo ooo wah wah wah The trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns by Italian director Sergio Leone made Eastwood a household name. This film is the finale, and in my opinion, the best. Lee Van Cleef plays the Bad. Eastwood is the Good, and has no name, although he is referred to as Blondie.
5. High Plains Drifter (1973 directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Clint Eastwood) A tale of revenge. Years ago, a man was tortured and left for dead by a small town of small minded people. That man came back one day and the town hires him to protect them from a gang of bandits. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Eastwood literally paints the town red in this classic western.
6. Unforgiven (1992 directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman) It's a hell of a thing, taking a man's life. You take away everything he has, and everything he ever would have I have never seen a more ruthless cold blooded mean son of a gun than Munny in Unforgiven. The look on Eastwoods face in the final showdown with Gene Hackman is unforgettable in my mind. Eastwoods look of malice and contempt in that one scene seems to channel every Western movie Eastwood ever made and focuses them all in one scene of fury.
7. El Mariachi (1992, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez) Before Sin City, before Spy Kids and before Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Rodriguez directed a very low budget film about a simple guitar player in Mexico who was mistaken for a notorious gunslinger who carried a guitar case full of weapons. You've probably seen the big budget version with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek (also directed by Rodriguez) but you owe it to yourself to see the original, which has much more of an independent western feel to it than the big budget Desparado. It is shot all on location with unknown Mexican actors, and its also one of Roberto Rogriguezes very first films.
8. Tombstone (1993, starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton and Charlton Heston) You can't have a list of favorite Westerns without at least ONE that tells the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the shootout at the O.K. Corral. I'm not a Kevin Costner fan, and I like the newer Westerns more than the older, so this fine retelling of the classic fable told first in the 1883 song My Darling Clementine and then in the 1946 film My Darling Clementine is my favorite. I won't bother retelling the plot here, we all know what happened at the O.K. Corral.
9. Dead Man (1995 directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Johnny Depp) This surrealistic western was shot in black and white and every frame looks like it could be an Ansel Adams photograph. It has an outstanding soundtrack by Neil Young, who scored it by watching it and playing his electric guitar. Depp is William Blake who thinks he has a job at an accounting firm, but when he gets there, the firm's boss John Dickinson (Robert Mitchum) tells him the position is filled and chases Blake from his office with a shotgun. After a drunk night in a bar, Blake meets a woman with tragic consequences. After a shootout, the woman (who turns out to be Dickinson's daughter) is dead, her fiance is dead, and Depp is wanted for double homicide and has a bullet lodged in his heart. He meets an indian named Nobody (Gary Farmer), and deals with bounty hunters and his impending fate. The film features cameos by Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Gabriel Byrne, Iggy Pop, Billy Bob Thorton, Alfred Molina, and Lance Henriksen. Favorite line, Nobody to William Blake mistaking him for the OTHER William Blake It is strange that you do not remember any of your poetry William Blake.
10. The Quick and the Dead (1995 directed by Sam Raimi, starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio) Did you know the Spiderman, Evil Dead director did a Western? He did, in classic Raimi style, and even though his friend Bruce Campbell's cameo ended up on the cutting room floor this is a Western that is fun to watch just for Raimi's sheer style. The story is a simple one, Hackman owns the town and each year he has a gunslinging contest.
I also enjoyed Clint's films, Hang 'em High, Pale Rider, The Outlaw Jose Wales and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. Also on the list should have been The Magnificent Seven, which is also one of my favorite Clash songs.
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