Top 10 Westerns to watch before you dive into 'The Sisters Brothers'

It's easy to think Westerns are formulaic, but these 10 films will prove that as genre, nobody does it better than cowboys


                            Top 10 Westerns to watch before you dive into 'The Sisters Brothers'

There is something extraordinarily intriguing about Westerns. As much as they are entertaining, they're also stylish, violent, raw, and unfettered by current norms. Jacques Audiard's new movie, The Sisters Brothers, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and John C Reilly, is bringing back that old Western passion in the dark Western comedy that hit cinemas on September 21. 

But if you're new to the genre, then take a mosey down these 10 films, and you'll get an understanding of Westerns that will prove they're more than just tumbleweed, cheap whisky, six-shooters, and unwashed men on horses.

John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix in The Sisters Brothers (2018). (IMDb)
John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix in The Sisters Brothers (2018). (IMDb)

Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford

Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell

Plot: A plethora of colorful characters come together on the Overland stagecoach bound for Lordsburg, New Mexico. Things take an interesting turn as the odd group finds themselves contending against the escaped outlaw, Ringo Kid, amid an impending Apache attack.

John Wayne and Claire Trevor in Stagecoach (1939). (IMDb)
John Wayne and Claire Trevor in Stagecoach (1939). (IMDb)

Shane (1953)

Director: George Stevens

Cast: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance

Plot: Although Shane wants to have a life beyond gunslinging, unfortunate events pull him out of his quite farming existence when a battle between the townsfolk and ruthless cattle baron, Rufus Ryker, is sparked.

Alan Ladd and Brandon De Wilde in Shane (1953). (IMDb)
Alan Ladd and Brandon De Wilde in Shane (1953). (IMDb)

The Searchers (1956)

Director: John Ford

Cast: John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Jeffrey Hunter

Plot: After returning home to Texas from the Civil War, Ethan Edwards vows to track down the Comanches who killed his family. However, when he finds out that his niece, Debbie, is still alive, he travels in a search of family and justice.

Jeffrey Hunter, Olive Carey, and Vera Miles in The Searchers (1956). (IMDb)
Jeffrey Hunter, Olive Carey, and Vera Miles in The Searchers (1956). (IMDb)

The Unforgiven (1960)

Director: John Huston

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Audie Murphy, John Saxon

Plot: After Delilah Fitzgerald is heavily disfigured by a pair of cowboys, sheriff Little Bill Daggett is completely disgusted by the vigilantism that follows. However, he finds himself caught between two groups of gunslingers who arrive to claim the reward on the men who brutalized Fitzgerald.

Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, and Lillian Gish in The Unforgiven (1960). (IMDb)
Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, and Lillian Gish in The Unforgiven (1960). (IMDb)

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Director: Sergio Leone

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Rada Rassimov

Plot: When a mysterious stranger, Joe, forms an unusual alliance with the Mexican outlaw, Tuco, during the Civil War, betrayal is inevitable. However, while trying to rescue Tuco whom he had handed over to bandits for money, Joe finds himself on the receiving end of Tuco’s revenge for the betrayal.

Eli Wallach in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966). (IMDb)
Eli Wallach in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966). (IMDb)

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Director: Sergio Leone

Cast: Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson

Plot: Rail baron Morton will go to any extent to take over the single piece of land around Flagstone. He hires henchman, Frank, who kills the land’s owner, McBain, and puts the blame on the infamous bandit, Cheyenne. However, things begin to unravel when a mysterious gunslinger and McBain’s new wife, Jill, arrive in town.

Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). (IMDb)
Charles Bronson in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). (IMDb)

True Grit (1969)

Director:  Henry Hathaway

Cast: John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby

Plot: 14-year-old Mattie Ross hires a man of “true grit”, U.S. Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn, in order the avenge the death of her father who was murdered at the hands of Tom Chaney. Ross and Cogburn are soon joined by Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, who seeks to capture Chaney.

John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby in True Grit (1969). (IMDb)
John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby in True Grit (1969). (IMDb)

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Cast: William Holden, Ben Jonson, Robert Ryan

Plot: Right before retirement, Pike Bishop is joined by his gang for one last robbery when he discovers that it was all nothing but a set-up masterminded by his old partner, Deke Thornton.

Strother Martin, Paul Harper, Bill Hart, L.Q. Jones, and Robert Ryan in The Wild Bunch (1969). (IMDb)
Strother Martin, Paul Harper, Bill Hart, L.Q. Jones, and Robert Ryan in The Wild Bunch (1969). (IMDb)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Director: George Roy Hill

Cast: Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Katherine Ross

Plot: A remarkable story about an unusual friendship between a notorious outlaw, Butch, and his close associate the Sundance Kid. It delivers everything Western on a plate, including train- and bank-robberies, wild horse chases, and a lot of gunfire.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). (IMDb)
Paul Newman and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). (IMDb)

The Magnificent 7 (1960)

Director: John Sturges

Cast: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson

Plot: An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes. These 'Magnificent 7' are a motley bunch of journeymen, lethal killers, and layabouts, but led by the steely Brynner, they're not ready to go gently.

Caption
A movie still from The Magnificent Seven features the seven principal characters on horseback. The actors and their characters are (from left to right): Steve McQueen as Vin; James Coburn as Britt; Horst Buchholz as Chico; Yul Brynner as Chris Adams; Brad Dexter as Harry Luck; Robert Vaughn as Lee; Charles Bronson as Bernardo O'Reilly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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