When we started off as kids, we were often asked what we would like to be. The oft quoted replies were Astronaut, Cowboy, Pilot, Explorer and the like. Of those, only the Cowboy is from a different generation. You can argue that Explorer also falls in that category. But not really, exploration still takes place. Sometimes in hand with exploitation, but never mind that. Have you asked yourself “Why does the Cowboy evoke such a response?” The answer lies in that image. The one of Blondie from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Steely-eyed and grim, monosyllabic and gruff with a heart of gold along with a keen sense of right and wrong. The stories of riding off into the sunset, tipping your hat at the ladies, using your six-shooters, lassoing a bad guy, and of course the quickdraw shootout. There are many movies out there that are epic westerns, here are a few of my favorites.
The Magnificent Seven: A story of an oppressed Mexican village and the seven gunfighters hired to protect it. Sounds familiar? That’s because it is. The movie pays homage to The Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa. Starring old school Hollywood heavy-weights like Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, this movie is an epic ride, no pun intended. We get to see seven hired guns battle forty bandits while trying to save a village. Each of the Seven have their reasons for signing up like gold, honour, glory and fame. The movie takes your mind and heart to a different time. A time of the code of the Cowboy.
Three Amigos: This one is different from the rest of the movies in this list. It’s a Comedy Western. What do you need for a comedy western you ask? Well you need to get Steve Martin, Martin Short and Chevy Chase in a room and put them in mexican Amigos costumes with names like “Lucky Day”, “Ned Nederlander” and “Dusty Bottom”. Then make them play actors who pretend to cowboys. Then take those actors and make them face-off a ruthless Mexican Bandito named El Guapo. What follows is a laugh riot of amazing proportions. A story which takes 3 actors who play cowboys and then realize that they have to be Cowboys.
Django: The original Django. Starring Franco Nero as the epynomous Django (the D is silent). One of most amazing spaghetti westerns out there. It starts off with a man walking into town, pulling a coffin. He then faces off with the KKK (if you don’t know who they are, look them up.) and Mexican Bandits (the name is description enough, you can stop googling.) and of course there is a gunfight! Django’s mystery and charisma ooze out of the screen. And you are left wondering what is that coffin. A film that I had watched which made me remember that the D is silent. Watch it and you will understand.
For A Few Dollars More: Interesting title, don’t you think? What would you do for a few more dollars? This movie stars two of the greatest cowboys out there- Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was made by Sergio Leone (no relation to the one you are thinking about) with a soundtrack you can whistle to. You might have seen them act together, in the movie mentioned above in the introduction. Go ahead, scroll up to read it again, if you have forgotten. And 10 points to anyone who did remember. This is a film about two bounty hunters out to get the same man. But are their intentions the same? Can they work together? Or will it all end in guns, bullets and blood?
These are just a few westerns I have enjoyed. There are many more out there. Blazing Saddles is one, I know. But that’s in a different article. Catch some of these films and remember there are many more out there. Watch this space for on that. In fact, why don’t you tell us what your favourite western is in the comment box below?