Top 4 Recommended Westerns to Watch Before Seeing to 3:10 to Yuma
by Ken Evans
September 4, 2007
If you're anything like me I like to watch certain movies to get pumped up for an upcoming release. Before Matrix Revolutions I watched Matrix and Matrix Reloaded. But I don't just do this with sequels. With certain directors like Sam Raimi or the Coen Brothers, when they make a new movie I like to go back and watch some of their previous work. I like to see how their style has progressed over the years. I'll also do this with certain film genres. Before I went to see Sunshine I watched a few sci-fi films like Blade Runner and Minority Report just to get me in a science fiction kind of mood. In anticipation for the upcoming release of the new western, 3:10 to Yuma, I wanted to put together a guide of a few films that I would suggest watching.
Whether you're a western fanatic already, or if you have never seen one but you want to have a bit of experience before going to watch 3:10 to Yuma, this list is for you. Use this as a guide for you and a few friends to go rent a couple films and have a western night. Or pick one of these and see how you think James Mangold's modern remake of a western classic rates in comparison. So without further ado, I give you my Top 4 Recommended Westerns to Watch Before Seeing to 3:10 to Yuma (in no particular order):
#1 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Although long (running anywhere from 161 to 186 minutes depending on which cut you get your hands on) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a treat from start to finish. Hands down one of the most acclaimed and recognized westerns ever made. "The man with no name" (Clint Eastwood) is a cowboy out to make some money when he stumbles upon an outlaw. The two strike up a partnership where they go town to town swindling the authorities. Along the way they come across some information letting them know the location of a treasure buried in a cemetery. Little do they know that a professional hit man knows about the treasure as well and will do everything he can to find out where it is.
When I think of westerns this is the first film that I think of. Beautiful cinematography, perfect characters, and an amazing soundtrack make up this perfect western. This is a western in the truest sense of the word. There's no discussing feelings or emotions in this film. No one is saving a town from some evil band of horse thieves. All you have is three men who want to get paid and will shoot anyone who gets in their way. And that's really what it always comes down to, money and revenge. Believe me when I say that this film is full of both.
#2 - Unforgiven (1992)
I just watched this again the other night and had forgotten how much I really do love this film. Unforgiven is much different and not nearly as old as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In this film there is a lot of story and character development pertaining to William 'Bill' Munny (Clint Eastwood) and his buddy Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman). Munny had been known as a ruthless killer of not only men, but women and children as well. As always, the love of a woman had made him settle down, stop drinking whiskey, and become a farmer. Now many years later, and after the death of his wife, Munny was approached to take up a bounty on two brothers who had cut up the face of a prostitute. Munny and his old partner Logan decide to go after these two brothers to collect on the bounty. However, when they get close to where the brothers live they find a power hungry sheriff named 'Little Bill' (Gene Hackman) who doesn't take kindly to others usurping his law.
Again this movie is about money and revenge. Although this time the first half is about money and the second half is about revenge. They do such a great job of telling the story and developing the characters during the first half, that you don't even notice that there hasn't been any action yet. Don't worry though, it pays off at the end as we feel like we have gotten to know the characters and really care about what happens to them. The director has given us reason to love Munny and despise 'Little Bill'. I'm sure you'll be cheering for Munny to take a swig of whiskey and become the ruthless man he was when he was younger.
#3 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
This is a classic film for both men and women alike. Guys, unless your wives or girlfriends only watch movies like The Wedding Planner and Georgia Rule, then you can feel safe bringing this home as a film that you both will love. Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are the leaders of a gang that robs trains and banks. After robbing one train too many, a posse of the most famous lawmen from across the nation are assembled to bring them to justice. The chase ensues as Butch and Sundance make their way out of the country robbing banks along the way.
Newman and Redford are a classic team. If you haven't seen The Sting, which is the other movie they team up in, then I highly suggest it. As far as westerns go this was much different than the classic western. This has a much more comedic edge to it. It is very light hearted, which isn't something you find in too many westerns. This is definitely a must see! Watch this but give Unforgiven and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly a view to give yourself a better, more well-rounded view of westerns.
#4 - Tombstone (1993)
I would not be very surprised if this is the only western most people have seen. This isn't a bad thing as I enjoy Tombstone immensely. However, I hope people understand that although it is very entertaining, it is nothing like what classic western films were like. It was very modernized, from the way everyone looked to the way they talked. Even so, I loved it. Tombstone is about the Earp brothers moving to a town named Tombstone to settle down and make a living. Wyatt (Kurt Russell) is looking to leave his law protecting days in the past and open a saloon along with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton). A short time after arriving, a gang of trouble makers named 'The Cowboys' start causing problems in the town. With the current law in the town being a joke the Earp boys step up and take the law into their own hands joined alongside by Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer).
You really have to love this film for the characters and lines. Obviously Val Kilmer's character 'Doc Holliday' is the most memorable. Anyone who has seen it knows the line "I'm your Huckleberry…" Then there is Sam Elliott who might be one of coolest actors to ever play a cowboy. I mean seriously, when is he not a cowboy? His slow talking and squinty eyes and that mustache. The man is just plain cool. This is a good movie to introduce someone to who hasn't seen a western. Otherwise, if you have seen it, but its been awhile, watch it again. I just did and it was still a whole lot of fun.
Try and watch one or all of these before you see 3:10 to Yuma as they will get you pumped up and give you some background going into the theater. Will 3:10 to Yuma revive a forgotten western genre or keep it forgotten? How does it compare to the greats like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly? I'm very interested in what you have to think about these and 3:10 to Yuma so please leave a comment with your opinion after watching any of the films on the list. What would your list be? Would it include Once Upon a Time in the West, The Wild Bunch or The Searchers? Let me know what you think!