I am a sucker for a good western. Whether I've seen it on the big screen or the boob tube, I consider some of my best wasted hours were glued to a cowboy tale. What I've included here are some of my favorites in order from my all time favorite to my 18th. That said, even the 18th I would watch again in a heartbeat. So hang onto your ten-gallon hats, here we go:
1. Lonesome Dove - Oaters don't get any better than this mini-series. I have seen it at least eight times. The characters of Gus McCrae (Robert Duvall) and Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) are some of the best drawn in the lore. From the moment we are introduced to the pair of legendary Texas Rangers, they mesmerize. Their monumental cattle drive to Montana and the adventures they experience along the way are enough to fill four stories. The secondary characters - Blue Duck, Pea Eye, Newt, Jake Spoon, July Johnson, Lorena, and Clara, Deets, Roscoe, Po Campo - are so well drawn that they could be heroes in their own right.
2. The Magnificent Seven - Taken from the classic Japanese tale The Seven Samurai, this story of a group of gunslingers who come to the aid of a small Mexican town is fun and eye-popping from beginning to end. Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, JamesColburn. Nice.
3.The Outlaw Josie Wales - There's going to be a number of Clint Eastwood flics on this list and this is my favorite. A very well drawn character just trying to live his life. Of course he's also a bad ass.
4. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - John Wayne is another name you're going to see a lot. This one also had Jimmy Stewart and is told as a flash back by a senator on the way to the funeral of a friend. Good Stuff.
5. The Wild Bunch - Sam Peckipaw in his hay day. Another collective group movie of some very violent men who don't take lightly being messed with.
6. Tombstone - "I'll be your Huckleberry." When Val Kilmer (Doc Holiday) pronounces this statement, he's not offering to eat pie. Everything about this one forced me to go out and purchase it. Oh yeah, the Earps are good too.
7. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Clint Eastwood again in what arguably may be his most famous role, "The Man with No Name.' Lee Van Cleef became famous with this one as well. The final gunfight between the three main characters is classic.
8. High Noon - Academy award winner here with Gary Cooper as a peaceful man doing 'what a man's got to do' even if the town he's sworn to protect turns it's back on him.
9. Open Range - Another Robert Duvall winner. This time he is joined by Kevin Cosner as one very dangerous man. Ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and becoming heroes.
10. True Grit - This is the only movie that is on the list twice. This is the one with Jeff Bridges. Academy award nominee. Tale of a man hired by a young girl to avenge the murder of her parents. Bridges is a delight to watch.
11. Fist Full of Dollars - The first of the 'Spaghetti' westerns. I went to see this one with my dad. Clint Eastwood was great as 'The Man With No Name'. This movie proves that if you mean to kill someone, you need to finish the job.
12. For a Few Dollars More - Sequel to Fistful, this one introduced Lee Van Cleef to the world. Fabulous shoot-em-up.
13. Blazing Saddles - How could I not include this terrific comedy in the list? The fart scene alone makes the movie worth seeing.
14. True Grit - This one has John Wayne as the Rooster Cogburn main. He is given wonderful lines to speak and is a larger than life character. I love this movie.
15. The Shootist - John Wayne's last movie. The main character is a dying gunfighter which mirrored Wayne's circumstance as well. Terrific finale.
16. Shane - Another gunfighter trying-to-outrun-his-past movie but this one was the first. Alan Ladd is outstanding as Shane a man who just wants peace but cannot turn his back on injustice. Nice.
17. Sons of Katy Elder - One of a dozen John Wayne vehicles that seem as if they crafted just for him. When their mother dies, the Elder boys (including Dean Martin) come home to find that bad men have done their parents wrong. A big mistake for the bad guys. Wayne is terrific.
18. Unforgiven - Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Academy award. Best pair of lines. "You shot an unarmed man!" "Well, he should have armed himself."
Once Upon a Time in the West - love the opening three minutes
Cat Ballou - Lee Marvin in a double role
The Mini-series Centennial
3:10 From Yuma - Both versions