Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

What Ever Happened To The Western Movie?

by  |  July 27th, 2011  |  Blog

A scene from a Western movie starring Clint Eastwood

As I have mentioned before, in the past decade, I have come to discover the brilliance of the Western movie…

Which in my opinion is a real crying shame for me (I know that, that may sound odd, but it is true!) I mean the Western movies produced over the decades have been true masterpieces of cinematic brilliance! With such films as, Blue Steel (1934) starring: John Wayne (Rio Bravo), Yellow Sky (1948) with Gregory Peck (The Omen), Springfield Rifle (1952) with Gary Cooper and even The Magnificent Seven (1960)… (Don’t worry folks, with the execption of The Magnificent Seven, which I have already recommended, the rest of the movies that I have just mentioned, those recommendations are coming!)

With that said, I thought that I would talk about the modern Western film and head back in to the prestigious past of the Western movie…

Now fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view).  The last few years has seen a kind of beginning of a resurgence in the Western movie genre after having more or less disappeared in to relative obscurity!

One of these movies being the movie, Appaloosa (2008) with Ed Harris (Apollo 13), Viggo Mortensen (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy) and Renee Zellweger (Nurse Betty).

Now for more information on Appaloosa, please enjoy this trailer for the movie:

Another movie that I thought is worth mentioning is that recently the movie True Grit (1969), which also starred John Wayne, was remade in 2010 with Jeff Bridges (Tron) taking over in the title role!

For more information on this movie, please enjoy the trailers for both True Grit (1969):

And True Grit (2010):

With that said there have been a few other Western films that have come out in the last few years, I just thought that I would mention those as those are probably in my opinion some of the best Western movies to have come out in the last decade or more!

And speaking of the 1990s, in my opinion the 1990s was the last decade for truly great western films, having produced such truly epically fun films as, Dances With Wolves (1990), with Kevin Costner (Waterworld), Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) and Graham Greene (Thunderheart).

For more information on Dance With Wolves, please enjoy the trailer for the movie:

Another great classic Western film that I truly do feel deserves mentioning is the movie Tombstone (1993) with Kurt Russell (Escape From New York), Val Kilmer (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Sam Elliot (The Big Lebowski)

For more information on Tombstone please enjoy this trailer for the movie:

This is just a few of the Westerns that have come out in the last 20 years or so, to have made a major impact on the Western movie genre!

The next era of the Western movie that I wanted to talk about are the Western movies between the 1960s through the 1970s. (I mean there were some good ones in the 80s I am sure, but my main focus, when it comes to Western movies has been those decades and so I thought that I would talk about that.)

With that said, there was a sub-genre of films that sprang up in the mid 60s called, Spaghetti Westerns…

These Spaghetti Westerns were usually films that had an Italian director, such as Sergio Leone (A Fist Full Of Dollars) or Sergio Corbucci (The Mercenary), along with many other classic Italian directors. These movies would also have some great foreign or American actors in them as well!  A great example of these Spaghetti Western movie actors are people like Clint Eastwood (For A Few Dollars More) who starred in quite a few Spaghetti Westerns, such as The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly (1966) along with others!

One great example of a Spaghetti Western is the movie, The Mercenary (1968) with Jack Palance (Tango & Cash), Franco Nero (Die Hard 2) and Tony Musante (Devil’s Hill)

For more information on this movie, please check out the trailer for, The Mercenary (1968):

With that said, that is the only true Spaghetti Western I have seen to date (That is a situation that I am intent on rectifying, trust me.)

Some other truly great Western movies from the 60s and 70s that I thought that I would mention here are films such as, More Dead Than Alive (1969), starring Vincent Price (The Tomb Of Ligeia), Anne Francis (Vendetta) and Clint Walker (Cheyenne).

Now part of the reason that I mention this is the fact that Vincent Price starred in this movie… For me I had always labeled Vincent Price as more geared toward the Horror and Science Fiction genres…

With that said, ABM recently did a 100th posthumous birthday tribute for Mr. Price and I got to thinking that I would like to do something a little more obscure for the actor then just the usual Horror or Science Fiction fanfare… And I definitely found this when I came to discover this movie!

Now with all of this in mind, I also came to discover that you should never judge a book by its cover when it comes to Mr. Price, as he starred in such other great Westerns as The Baron Of Arizona (1950) with Ellen Drew (Outlaw’s Son) also Curtain Call At Cactus Creek (1950) with Donald O’Connor (Anything Goes).

But for more information on this movie, please enjoy the trailer for the movie, More Dead Than Alive (1969):

Besides the actual movies themselves, there are truly a ton of truly great Western movie actors, such as those mentioned above, but also, Gene Autry (Last Of The Pony Riders), Tex Ritter (The Old Chisholm Trail). A few that I I thought I should also mention here that believe it or not are more well known for other films, from other genres yet are truly great Western actors never the less is, Steve McQueen (Junior Bonner) and Paul Newman (Hud)…

With that said, there has been countless dozens of truly great Western movies made over the years, admittedly to some degree the Western genre has pettered out little in movies (fortunately that is not entirely the case with TV,) I just hope that if my theory is true, that we see a stronger resurgence of the Western movie genre, and many great movies to come!

Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.

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