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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.