The 11 Best Westerns in Movie History


The western is as old as the cinema, the figure of the American romantic hero, the one who acted where civilization fought against nature to conquer the territory, found in the old and wild west the ideal setting for the creation of a mythology typical of the United States. Thus, the genre grew, became popular, fell and was revitalized on several occasions throughout the 20th century, bequeathing cinematographic works to remember, which continually returned to common places with the intention of reinventing codes, by subverting expectations. of the public at all times.

In a personal capacity, and I suppose that like many of the readers who have seen fit to stop by here, I got closer to the genre thanks to my grandfather, who was always attentive to shoot first and put the western that was on on the television in the living room. broadcasting on Spanish Television. Therefore, in reality, part of what I present here today I owe it to him, since what we are going to do is nothing more than review the prolific history of western cinema through 11 of its best exponents (just like we already did with the best World War I movies) .

You already know how this goes, they are not all who are, nor are all who are, and the lists, by definition, are an exercise in exclusion. Now, what they should never be is something categorical, rather the opposite. And for this reason I encourage you to make your contributions in the comments, which Talking about cinema is something you always want. We begin (goes for you, its).

  • The diligence
  • The Sierra Madre Treasure
  • alone in the face of danger
  • The Man Who Killed Liberty Valance
  • For a bunch of dollars
  • The dead had a price
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Until his time came
  • wild group
  • no pardon
  • django unchained

Stagecoach (1939)

We start with a great among the greats, John Fordwho in 1939 signed this masterpiece of the genre starring John Wayne, who was accompanied by Claire Trevor Thomas Mitchell and John Carradine, among others. They all bring to life a cast of characters that includes an outlaw, a prostitute, a gambler, a doctor, a sheriff, and a pregnant soldier’s wife. The group must undertake a long and hard stagecoach journey while facing an attack by a party of Apache Indians. A movie that served revitalize the western in the late 1930sgiving the starting signal to one of the most prolific eras of the genre.

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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

The trip, the journey through the ruthless and wild west, due to its immobile and lethal nature, has always been one of the main resources of the genre, a perfect plot trigger. Especially if it is seasoned with relationships between characters who look out, above all, for their own interests. John Huston gave us this treasure hunt starring Humphrey Bogart, along with Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Bruce Bennett. A film that uses the gold rush to explore the miseries of the human being; greed, envy and ambition go hand in hand in a tape that has one of those endings that stays etched in your memory.

Alone in Danger (1952)

We continue with another mythical director, Fred Zinneman (Jackal, A Man for eternity). Alone in the face of danger tells us the story of Sheriff Kane, who after getting married intends to move to the city and establish his own business there. However, everything falls apart when he finds out that a former criminal, whom he imprisoned years ago, will arrive in the city that same day to end his life as revenge. Zinneman achieves an unappealable exercise in tension and suspense, an agony that he captures on screen through the interpretation of a great Gary Cooper that, next to Grace Kellystars in one of those films that can be classified as a movie lesson.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

We return to the duo Ford y Wayne, which this time tells us the story of Tom Doniphon, the man who killed Liberty Valance. A film full of nuances that glimpses the decline of the Wild West, portraying that time in which the redacted law began to prevail over the law of the strongest. Hence, the character of Steward (Ransom Stoddard) refuses to carry a revolver, an approach that gives clues about the path of a film that, at the time, sought to transgress the codes of the genre, something that it undoubtedly achieved. A wonderful movie about the most romantic vision of honor among cowboys.

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For a Fistful of Dollars (1964)

We enter the field of spaghetti western by the hand of the greatest, Sergio Leonethat next to Clint Eastwood signed a cinephile triptych to remember. His first story is set in the border town of San Miguel, where Joe (Eastwood) witnesses an exchange of weapons and gold between Mexicans and Union soldiers. This premise helps the Italian director to build a film that looks directly at the Jojimbo by Akira Kurosawa. Despite his limited means, Leone manages to deliver a revitalizing and groundbreaking film, which revealed all the talent that the Roman genius still had.

Death Had a Price (1965)

The second time these two giants of the west came together (Leone y Eastwood), they did it to narrate the adventures of two other fortune seekers, two bounty hunters who were looking for the same man, but for diametrically opposite reasons. Understood as a natural continuation of For a bunch of dollars, death has a price once again bases its strength on its powerful aesthetics and its narrative pulse. An exercise in polished, careful and pampered entertainment, which dignifies the gender to which it belongs and that once again has an unleashed Morricone.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

The third and last time Sergio Leone y Clint Eastwood their paths crossed, they bequeathed to us an authentic film classic that has written its name in the history of the medium in letters of gold. A great maneuver that extols the value of simple approaches, but well executed. Ambition and shots, from there is articulated a film exalted by the success of its direction, by the photography of Tonino Delli Colli, by the performances of Eastwood, Wallach and Van Cleef, and by the evocative music of Ennio Morricone. He epitome of the spaghetti western.

Until His Time Came (1968)

We stayed in Italy because barely two years later Leone returned to movie theaters with Henry Fonda y Charles Bronson brand new Until his time came3 hours of film that praised, a little more, the figure of the Italian director. A revenge classic cooked over a slow fire, in which time management is a fundamental tool of a calm speech. The harmonica predicts tense duels of glances and shooting salads in which the breeze and the visual iconography of each shot are capital. Leone in its purest form and, of course, Morricone too.

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Wild Bunch (1969)

Sam Peckinpah signed, with Grupo Salvaje, one of the first twilight westerns of history. With a script co-written by Peckinpah and Wallon Green, the film tells the story of a group of veteran bank robbers operating on the US-Mexico border. A hymn to the ethical and moral charge of the anti-hero, of those characters governed by strong codes of honor that, contrary to what happens with the law, set the limits of their actions. The film is an example of Peckinpah’s maturity, and an example of cinematographic coherence in which everything fits. Essential.

No Forgiveness (1992)

We continue with Eastwood, although this time as a director and leading actor. He is accompanied by Gene Heckman, Morgan Freeman, Jaimz Woolvett and Richard Harris to form a luxury cast in this film that has ended up being known as one of the greatest exponents of the twilight western. In it, Willian Munny, a widowed family man and retired gunman, is forced to do one last job in order to support his children. A cold, gloomy, bitter and strong film that does not hide its simplicity. On the contrary, it becomes strong in it, exposing the elements of the western as something to be claimed, as a way of making movies to which the medium can return as long as there is something interesting to tell, or there is something to tell in an interesting way.

Django Unchained (2012)

and we end with Tarantino and his particular homage to the western, a film of overwhelming visual power, and as excessive and unchained as its protagonist. Django is a hymn to the hero of the west, the born gunslinger, the cowboy who only controls his revolver and who, together with him, pursues his revenge. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington y un espectacular Samuel L. Jackson forms the cast of a film that permanently lives in excess, combining memorable dialogues with visual compositions as epic as they are colorful. Fun in its purest form which works as the perfect exaltation of a genre as wonderful as it is crazy.