Ever since I was a kid I watched westerns on TV38 in Boston. It was a local channel that had movies on Saturday mornings. One week it would be gangster movies and another week it would be monster movies. On holidays such as Halloween or Christmas they would have Halloween movies or Christmas movies. Every couple of month though they would go back to the western genre. Going back to when I was a kid the big western star of the time was Clint Eastwood. Sure he had the occasional comedy or action movie but, it was the western that reminded me what a great actor he was. Films such as Pale Rider, High Plains Drifter and the Outlaw Josey Wales were the staples of the genre and made me wanna watch a lot more westerns. Clint was senonimus with the spaghetti western in the 60’s and early 70’s. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Trilogy was the most popular of these kinds of films. Clint acted in 15 westerns in his career. Of those were also Two Mules for Sister Sarah, A Fistful of Dollars, For a few Dollars More, Joe Kid and Hang’Em High. My favorite though is his last and latest western Unforgiven, Unforgiven won for Oscars including one for Best Picture, Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman and Editing. Unforgiven is everything I have ever wanted in a great western. A flip in the iconic roles was a great pleasant surprise. The idea Clint would use a western with quite the amount of violence as a means to teach about gun violence and violence in general was very rewarding to me as a viewer.
Western were one of the biggest influences in me being a film pundit and huge film fan. Once I started watching the Clint Eastwood westerns I wanted to find other to watch. Films such as High Noon with Gary Cooper, How the West was Won and Once Upon A Time in the West and The Magnificent Seven with there great cast of actors like Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart and Yul Brynner were great films. True Grit,The Cowboys ,The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance were staples for John Wayne during the 50’s and 60’s. Another great western star was Kevin Costner. Silverado, Dances with Wolves and Wyatt Earp were a couple of his early films. Later he would go back to the western with Open Range and the TV mini-series The Hattfields & McCoy’s. Paul Newman and Robert Redford would star in a classic in the 70’s called Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.
Over the years we would see a western here or there but, there hasn’t been that many out the last few decades. Films like Tombstone, the new 3:10 To Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford were the last of the great westerns. They had great performances by Val Kilmerand Kurt Russell, Russell Crowe and Christain Bale and Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. The next year we have four new westerns out. The Homesman, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Jane Got a Gun and The Magnificent Death by Shattered Hand are the westerns that hope to revive the lost genre of film. I hope they do because I love watching this bygone genre of film.
Dan Skip Allen