MONSTROUS QUESTION: Favorite WESTERNS
(Monstrous Question created by Michael Arruda)
Tonight’s question from L.L. SOARES:
What are our favorite westerns?
Our panel responds:
I have a lot of favorite westerns, but here are a few of them:
I discovered John Wayne later in life, but I have to say, I REALLY enjoy his movies. He truly dominates the movies he’s in. To do that on a consistent basis takes talent, and Wayne, though he won only one Oscar for TRUE GRIT (1969), had a lot of it. The westerns Wayne starred in belong in a category all their own.
I think the best John Wayne western I’ve seen, and the one that includes Wayne’s best performance, would be THE SEARCHERS (1956), directed by John Ford. This is a dark, meaty role for the Duke, one in which he gets to show a grim, dangerous side.
You also can’t beat the plot, as Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a man who along with his nephew (Jeffrey Hunter) spends years searching for his niece, who had been abducted by Indians when she was a child. Her parents, Ethan’s brother and wife, were murdered by these same Indians, and it’s hinted at early on in the film that Ethan and his brother’s wife share more than just a casual connection. Also, Wayne’s dark side in this movie comes into play because he hates Indians, and the longer his niece is with them, the more it becomes apparent that rather than rescue her, he’d like to kill her.
It’s a great movie.
But my favorite John Wayne western, in terms of how much fun it is to watch, would be RIO BRAVO (1959), with Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. I love the story and I also like Dino’s drunk deputy character, Dude, and Angie Dickinson makes a very sexy leading leady. I also like EL DORADO (1966) which pairs Wayne with Robert Mitchum and James Caan. Sure, it tells almost the same story as RIO BRAVO, but it’s still great fun. These two were both directed by the great Howard Hawks.
Moving on from John Wayne, any western that Clint Eastwood has starred in is more than worth your time. I love the trilogy by Sergio Leone, FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965), my favorite of the three, and THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966). I also like Eastwood in UNFORGIVEN (1992) a lot, and a host of others. Like I said, you can’t go wrong with Eastwood.
And just to have a western without Wayne or Eastwood, I enjoyed the recent 3:10 TO YUMA (2007) starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, and would list that as a modern favorite.
© Copyright 2011 by Michael Arruda