Bill Paxton, Brian Dennehy, Dana Delany, Dances With Wolves, Danny Glover, Graham Greene, John Ford, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Kurt Russell, Mary McDonnell, Maureen O'Hara, Rio Grande, Rodney A. Grant, Sam Elliott, Scott Glenn, Silverado, Stagecoach, Tombstone, Val Kilmer
I’ll admit freely that this isn’t an original idea from me. I saw yesterday on Facebook a posting from a magazine or newspaper. With the recent release of “The Hateful Eight”, the author was listing what he considered the 10 best western movies of all time.
I thought I would take a crack at it as well. But I will keep it to five and I will label them as my all-time favorites.
1. “Silverado” (1985) — If there are buddy cop movies, this is a buddy cowboy film. Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn and Danny Glover become fast friends as they take on the corrupt sheriff of Silverado, Brian Dennehy, whose character of Cobb is one of the best bad guys ever in a western. Linda Hunt, currently of “NCIS: Los Angeles” fame plays the owner of the town’s saloon. This film was the most fun I have ever had watching a western.
2. “Stagecoach” (1939) — This was John Wayne’s breakout film after spending a few years cranking out ‘B’ westerns that practically had him riding a wooden horse. Wayne, Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell and Andy Devine lead a cast of unique and colorful characters as they ride a stagecoach from Arizona to New Mexico. Wayne’s character faces a big showdown when the stagecoach reaches its destination. The film was directed by John Ford and he and Wayne would do even better movies in the years to come.
3. “Rio Grande” (1950) — Co-written and directed by Ford, this has Wayne in command of an army post on the Texas frontier where he and his men are trying to deal with attacks from the Apaches. If that wasn’t enough, his son, who he hasn’t seen in 15 years and flunked out of West Point, is now under his command. Add to that Maureen O’Hara who comes to the post to try and get her boy out of the army. This could have been a bad soap opera. But it was far from it. Wayne and O’Hara have amazing chemistry in this movie and in the other films they did and the movie ends on a satisfying note.
4. “Dances With Wolves” (1990) — This definitely was a fantasy western, but is one of the best films of its decade. Kevin Costner played Lt. Dunbar. He is wounded during the Civil War and for his heroism his request to be assigned to a military post on the untamed prairie is granted. He learns to live among the Lakota Indians and then he is accepted as one of them. It’s a spectacular work, beautifully filmed and each performance of the cast is heartfelt and sincere including those from Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene and Rodney A. Grant. The movie earned a best picture Oscar and Costner was awarded best director.
5. “Tombstone” (1993) — Kurt Russell, as Wyatt Earp, and his brothers, Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton, are kicking a** and taking names as they try to rein in the lawlessness of Tombstone, Arizona. The violence in this movie is a little more in your face and the film is a little more serious in nature, but it’s an excellent good guys versus bad guys tale. Val Kilmer gave the best performance of his career as Doc Holliday and deserved at least an Oscar nomination. But it was a crowded field that year. Dana Delany gave a good performance as an actress with a touring theatre troupe that comes to Tombstone.
UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .