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Top 4 Recommended Westerns to Watch Before Seeing to 3:10 to Yuma

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September 4, 2007

Top 4 Recommended Westerns

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.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

#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.

Unforgiven

#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.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

#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.

Tombstone

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!

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  • Derek
    I think that you should see The Wild Bunch before you watch any movie...ever.
  • Mark
    I'd put "High Noon" on the list--one sheriff vs. an entire gang. I'd recommend "The Searchers" for the John Wayne factor, but he wears an eye-patch in "True Grit", which is awesome. No Western list is complete without the Duke. For a modern western, maybe "Silverado" (Kevin Kostner's best role), or perhaps "The Quick and the Dead". All the movies Ken listed were awesome, except for "Tombstone", which is only awesome for the first half, and all the Doc Holliday scenes.
  • Heckle
    Magnificent Seven....
  • Tombstone is a fantastic film. The gunfight at the OK Corral is an astonishing scene and you are right "I'm your Huckleberry" is such a ludicrously cool line. I would have to second Heckle's shout for The Magnificent Seven. In my opinion it's the best western ever made. Stellar cast, simple story brilliantly told and one of the best film scores ever created. Stunning.
  • I'd really suggest adding Once Upon a Time in the West. I'll give you that Good, The Bad and The Ugly is a great movie but OUTW is an even better Sergio Leone western. I'd also have to say its definitely a better deeper movie than The Magnificient Seven (although thats another great western).
  • Ethan
    Unforgiven is one of my absolute very favorite movies.
  • Jedi
    I would have to agree that those are all great films. I'd also like to mention a few of my other favorites of the genre that haven't been mentioned yet. Pale Rider and Hang Em High are two other good Eastwood westerns, and while almost everyone has commented on Tombstone, no one has brought up The Gunfight At The OK Corral (1957) with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Compared to that movie, the gunfight scene in Tombstone is almost mentioned as taking place at the OK Corral as an afterthought.
  • Hey, Ken... I'd sooner put Pale Rider or even Silverado on the list before Tombstone. You really want to put that up next to those other films, and call it a "classic"?
  • John Donohue
    Incredible. Not one mention of the Western that trumps them all.... Open Range. I guess I am not suprised. There is a "pro-American goodness" and anti-postmodernism in Open Range that makes many people reject it. Sorry, but the REAL West is not primarily about "...money and revenge." The real West is about open spaces, freedom, honesty, individualism, honor, pride in property. I feel sorry for someone who thinks these are sissy values. The sanitized and smirky "Tombstone" was a cartoon and should not be considered a real Western. John Donohue
  • Ken Evans
    I'm loving the comments so far. Everyone has brought up some great films that are definitly worth consideration. I'll admit that I havn't seen some of the westerns in a long time, and I didn't want to put any on the list that I hadn't gone back and watched to refresh my memory. But, let me respond to a few of your comments anyway. Mark- I LOVE "The Searchers"! Too bad its been about 5-6 years since I have seen it. Tried to find a copy before making this list but couldn't. Wanted to refresh myself before adding it on here. As far as "The Quick and the Dead" goes. Well, as much as I love Sam Raimi this just wasn't that great of a film. Loved Gene Hackman, as always, and loved Russel Crowe. Other then that it just didn't do much for me. Payne by name- I really want to watch "The Magnificant Seven" again as I havn't seen it in a long time either. Just didn't have time. Thanks for the "Tombstone" support! John- "Once Upon a Time in the West" is one that I was able to watch before making the list. Honestly I enjoyed it (loved the opening sequence) but just never really cared about the characters. I liked the concept behind "Harmonica", his character was cool, but never as awesome as "Blondie" in "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". Great White Snark- Remember this isn't the "List of Top 4 Westerns of All Time". It is just the list of "Top 4 Recommended Westerns to Watch Before Seeing to 3:10 to Yuma". I love "Tombstone" for the enjoyment and entertainment value. It's on the list as more of a starter film for those that might not have seen a western before so they can ease into the whole genre. Although I agree with you that it isn't in the same class with some of the greatest westerns, it is still a great movie to watch. By the way, I never said it was a classic. Actually what I said was, "I hope people understand that although it is very entertaining, it is nothing like what classic western films were like." It's great revisiting a forgotten genre like this. Hopefully films like "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" will cause people to go back and watch these great westerns from the past. As well as get Hollywood to keep making some new ones. Keep on with the discussion! Loving hearing from you guys on this. Although I still have only seen film suggestions and no one has made their own list.
  • Gene Collins
    I think I may be older than most of you. My take on this would be considerably different. The Italian made westerns were entertaining at best. But for the best westerns you really need to go back furthur. #1 The Searchers #2 Red River #3 Shane #4 High Noon #5 Rio Grande #6 She wore a yellow Ribbon #7 3:10 to Yuma #8 Bend of the River #9 Unforgiven (1960 Burt Lancaster and Audie Murphy) #10 the gunfighter (1950 gregory peck) Modern Era: Tombstone Outlaw Josey Wales Unforgiven Siverado Jeremiah Johnson
  • Mark P
    Okay, I'll throw my personal "best-of" list (to show a variety of Westerns): #1 "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" #2 "The Searchers" #3 "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" #4 "Hombre" (probably nobody's seen it, but Paul Newman is awesome!) #5 "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"--John Wayne AND James Stewart! #6 "Shane" #7 "High Noon" #8 "Stagecoach"--a must-see for any western-lover #9 "Tumbleweeds" (This one goes back to the original cowboy, Mr. William S. Hart. If you can make it through this silent, B&W film, you'll be rewarded with some truly exciting sequences, and a glimpse of the real West before developers raped the land). #10 "Unforgiven (I consider this a bittersweet goodbye to the classic western--let's hope that 3:10 will be a warm welcome back).
  • bardego
    My personal favorite has always been High Plains Drifter
  • aposva
    No3 "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" No2 "Unforgiven" No1 "The Wild Bunch"
  • #1 - Anthony Mann's edgy and bittersweet "The Naked Spur." #2 - "The Searchers" #3 - "For A Few Dollars More" #4 - "The Gunfighter" #5 - "Tombstone" #6 - "High Noon" #7 - "Tumbleweed" - I have to agree that it is a terrific and unique film made by the grandpappy of them all, William S. Hart, a man dedicated to keeping his films and the detail as correct as he could. A man who had LIVED the Old West, and it showed in his work. #8 - "Unforgiven" #9 - "Silverado" Such good fun. #10 - "Shane"
  • Lynn
    Once Upon a Time In the West has to be the Best!!!
  • Spot
    The very first post by "Derek" is dead on, The Wild Bunch beats them all, hands down.
  • derek
    thanks, spot.
  • Bob
    "You brought two too many." Once Upon a Time in the West > The Wild Bunch
  • funnytunney
    my roomate in cali got me hooked on Hang 'Em High good movie if you like seeing nothing but clint shooting bad guys and screwing with their heads
  • dev
    hey hey..the list is good...but man u cannot the ultimate Western.. FOr A Few Dollars more..Clint Eastwood and Ivan Cliff man...its perfect wiz the perfect soundtrack as well...
  • Chris
    Wipe 'Tombstone' off that list please...and replace it with 'Open Range.' I love westerns but that movie is so clean and the wardrobe is so fresh it looks like it was shot on the back lot. As for one of my top westerns...'Young Guns.' Despite its allure to youngsters the history of who rode with Billy the Kid against the Murphy gang was great stuff.
  • scar
    tombstone, young guns????really? ehh most of clint's westerns and Once upon a time in the west .....WHOA!!! GREAT STUFF!!! Got to see 310 to Yuma last night....it was great...just made me feel like a kid again. Reminded me lot of Clint's stuff.... WOULD YOU GUYS CONSIDER the new jesse james movie to be a western, if you do or if you don't, the movie got best picture nomination written all over....so is 310 yuma, lust caution, ....hmm we'll see what's out there...
  • Jerome B Adams
    You all seem to be full of information on Westerns. I am trying to find the name of a movie that I saw as a child. I don't know if it is a classic or not, but I am desperate to find the name of this film. The only information that I can provide for any type of help is one line. "Whiskey Man I think he got us both". This was said by a drunken gun fighter after he is shot dead. This gunfighter had been talking to his imaginary friend throughout the movie. I thought it was the movie Catch a red Wagon. I was told that that was wrong by my older brother. Can anyone help me?

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