CLASSIC WESTERNS

Happy Labor Day all!  

 It’s a great day to sit back and watch classic westerns.   I personally plan to climb into my classic western library and watch “3:10 to Yuma” as I eagerly await the opening of its remake September 9th.

A sister blogger mentioned this film as well as two other new westerns being released this year, signaling, we all fervently hope, a renewed interest in western novels. 

I’m no longer a frequent theater goer. In truth, it’s been more than two years since I’ve been in a theater which indicates my opinion of most of today’s movie offerings. One reason for this long abstinence is I have no time. I have a mother in a nursing home, deadlines and far too much involvement in various organizations.  Time is a precious commodity not to be wasted, and I see a dearth of good character-driven stories in theaters today.But “3:10 to Yuma” will draw me back.   The movie is a remake of my second all-time favorite western by the same name.  That film, starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, is featured regularly on Starz’s Western Channel.    If you’ve never watched it and you’re a western fan, you’ve missed a treat.  Like “High Noon,” it’s in black and white. A lone guitar is its music backdrop. Tension is palpable.But unlike “High Noon,” it’s not entirely good against evil. Too many nuances. The hero isn’t embarking on a quest for noble reasons. He’s doing it for money. And the villain, well, you’ll have to watch.It IS a duel between two men. A good man, a farmer, who is desperate for cash in drought-strickened Bisbee Arizona (I confess to some bias here; my dad grew up there), agrees to put an outlaw on the 3:10 train to Yuma. Problem is the outlaw’s gang is determine to free him, no matter how many lives they must take. Glenn Ford, as the outlaw, is great. Although he’s a ruthless murderer, he has charm in abundance. At every turn, he is testing his captor. One reason I like the film so much is the starkness of the landscape, of the story itself.   The end comes as a complete surprise.

In the new version, Russell Crowe has Glenn Ford’s part. I can’t see how he could possibly be better than Glenn Ford in the role, but then he IS Russell Crowe. And the last film I saw in the theater was “Master and Commander.” I think that tells you something about how much I like him.

I’ve seen some of the trailers for “3:10.”   In the original film, Van Heflin’s sons were young and remained on the farm. Apparently in this version, the farmer’s son is older and follows him as he takes the outlaw to justice.  Looks like terrific action. Terrific cinematic effects.   I’m not so sure I like that. The power of the original movie was its simplicity.

But I do like the fact that it is a major motion picture, and that two other major productions are coming out this year.  I’m praying it’ll spur new interest in our western heritage.

Having said all that, I thought I would list my top ten favorite western classics. My all time favorite is “The Big Country” with Charlton Heston, Jean Simmons and Gregory Peck. Unlike “3:10,” it’s a big sprawling epic of a western. The last scenes are classic.

My third favorite is, of course, “High Noon,” followed by “Red River,” “Duel In the Sun,” “The Magnicent Seven,” “Shane,” “The Unforgiven,” “Lonely Are The Brave, “The Last Wagon,” “How the West Was Won,” and “Hondo.”

What are your favorite all time classics?   How do you rank them?   And why?

Website | + posts

14 thoughts on “CLASSIC WESTERNS”

  1. Hi Pat, you listed some great classics and some are my favorites too. But, I’m kinda partial to Clint Eastwood. Loved his “Pale Rider” and “Fistful of Dollars.” And, I could watch John Wayne’s “Rooster Cogburn,” “True Grit,” and “The Cowboys” until the cows come home. Like my comment on listing favorite Country/Western songs, my basket isn’t big enough to hold all the eggs! Great post today. Brought back a lot of warm memories. And hey, I’m a fan of Master and Commander too! I bought it. A good story and good acting. Can’t wait for 3:10 to Yuma. Have a wonderful Labor Day without the laboring part. 🙂

  2. Hi, we just DVR’d the original 3:10 and can’t wait to make time to watch it. Glenn Ford’s family wrote in yesterday’s LA Times Calendar section that 3:10 was in their opinion one of his greatest roles….I also super-enjoy Liberty Valance, and all the Sacketts. (Master and commander was incredible; I had the movie poster hanging in my writing room until we repainted….)

  3. That’s a great list of westerns! And Yes! to new ones (remakes) coming out! That has to mean a turn around in western books too.
    Some of my favorites are The Cowboys, The Long Riders, Rooster Cogburn, and The Wild Bunch.

    I’m going to be haying here in another hour. Our labor days always have labor in them- because of the time of year.

  4. My father is a big John Wayne fan – so needless to say I know most of his westerns. I’m partial to Rio Bravo (*dreamy sigh* Ricky Nelson!) and The Searchers. I also like the movies with Maureen O’Hara – McLintock! being a good one.

    More modern westerns I’m partial too – Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman) and Open Range (Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner). I also enjoyed Tombstone, but I’ll be honest – mostly for Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc Holliday. Although Dennis Quaid also did a good Doc in Wyatt Earp (although dang, what a long movie!)

  5. How far back does it need to go to be considered a classic? My favorite is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

    But I enjoyed all the ones listed so far.

    I’m with you, Pat. We seldom go to a movie these days unless it’s something that we think will be enhanced by the big screen–special effect movies.

    Otherwise, we watch it at home where we know no one will be talking.

  6. Hi Pat, The Outlaw Josey Wales and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are two movies I can watch over and over.

    I haven’t been to the movies in more than twenty years, so don’t feel bad! LOL

  7. Hi Pat – I loved High Noon. Gary Cooper was the epitomy of a hero. Loved it. Loved it. That has to be my all time favorite, but I also liked Shane and what was the one called with Robert Mitchem and Marilyn Monroe? I think Rory Calhoun played a villian of sorts? It had a classic ending.

  8. The picture on Linda’s blog post reminded me a little of Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under. I loved that western. One we watch over and over.
    And for bad guys Alan Rickman is so great. He’s a bad guy in Quigley, Robin Hood with Kevin Cosner, the original Die Hard and now Snape on the Harry Potter movies (thought I think he’s wasted there)
    And I loved The Man from Snowy River.

  9. For me it was those horses, charging over that cliff at full speed and the hero…The Man from Snowy River, just riding right off after them on his mountain horse, the breed of horse that can run straight down that steep mountain…that music. the way it changes when they run onto the snow. Yikes, so beautiful.
    And in Quigley, Tom Selleck saying, “I said I don’t like a six-gun. I didn’t say I didn’t know how to use one.”
    Great, great line. (Not sure what gun it was, but you know)

Comments are closed.