It’s that time of year again, folks, and I am so excited! Rachel, Heidi, and Olivia are once again hosting the Legends of Western Cinema Week, complete with all sorts of fun festivities as we celebrate our favorite Western films and characters. I’ve got a blog post about Hour of the Gun (1967) planned for later this week, but right now I’ll be answering the tag questions created by our hosts.
1) Favorite western focused on a lone hero?
I love Shane (1953). A quiet stranger defends the lives, freedoms, and peace of a small group of farmers, then leaves as suddenly as he arrived. Shane is the quintessential Western loner—he represents everything I like and admire about the character type.
2) Favorite western focused on a group of compadres?
The Magnificent Seven (1960) is the obvious answer, and it’s certainly my favorite. But Rio Bravo (1959) is worth a mention as well. Four very different guys band together to ensure a murderer is brought to justice. My favorite of those guys is Dude (Dean Martin), but they all have their good points.
3) Favorite western with a female main character?
True Grit (2010)! Mattie is brave, resourceful, and stubborn—one of my favorite female characters in general. The fact that she’s only fourteen makes her daring deeds all the more impressive. A close second on my favorites list would be Cat Ballou (1965). Jane Fonda’s plays Cat, another young woman who hires a grubby gunfighter to avenge her father’s death. Almost a comedy version of True Grit, if you think about it!
4) Favorite western with a POC main character?
You know, I don’t think I’ve ever watched one. Sigh. I’ve started one: The Magnificent Seven (2016), which I should really give another chance. (It bored me, so I gave up. I think I’d like it better now though.) Any other recs for POC-led Westerns?
5) Favorite western with kids in it?
Does Old Yeller (1957) count as a Western? I think so! Anyway, that’s my pick. If I can manage to type through my tears, that is… 😉
6) Favorite western set somewhere other than the United States?
You know, I thought that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) might have been set in Mexico—but nope. It takes place in New Mexico. So I’m going with Hidalgo (2004), because sometimes The Vibes are more important than The Decade In Which the Film Is Set.
7) Favorite “western” that doesn’t fit the genre’s dictionary definition?
THE MANDALORIAN. Impeccable Old West energy. Din sounds like a young Clint Eastwood and it’s delightful. He also protects the weak, has a fast draw, and tames a blurrg. What more do you want in a cowboy???
(If you’d like a more in-depth look at The–Mandalorian-as-a-Western, check out ‘The Mandalorian: Cowboys in Outer Space‘, an article written by our very own host Rachel!)
8) Favorite funny western?
Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) because I LOVE JAMES GARNER.
(I just rewatched Hour of the Gun last night, so I’m a bit hyper when it comes to JG. Apologies extended. XD)
Seriously though, Support Your Local Sheriff is an absolutely hilarious Western. Jason McCullough (James Garner) arrives in the town of Calendar, CO and is almost immediately elected sheriff of the brawling town. Jason cleans up the town, falls in love with the mayor’s daughter, and faces off against the dastardly Danby family. Such a fun film—I can’t recommend it highly enough for fans of Westerns!
9) Favorite tragic/sad western?
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) is steeped in sadness from its very first scene.
Like…the cactus rose. CAN YOU NOT, JOHN FORD?
10) Favorite western TV show?
Wanted: Dead or Alive, starring Steve McQueen, has been my favorite for several years now. Each episode is short (less than a half hour), but many of them pack a narrative punch unmatched by some longer and more well-known shows. I also love F Troop and I think I’d love Maverick if I watched more of it. Oh, and there’s Bonanza and Rawhide of course! But Wanted remains my favorite. ❤
What are some of your favorite Westerns? Let me know in the comments!