Anthony F. Hughes begins a new series where he looks at his favourite western films. Some are old, some are very old! Enjoy reading his thoughts and seeing if you agree with his choice of the best ‘cowboy films’ ever made.
About five years back while attending a wedding reception I left the banqueting hall and made my way into the hotel’s public lounge. I got in with a small group of mostly youngish men who, while they were also guests at the wedding, were all strangers to me.
At one stage the chat swung around to the subject of movies, or rather our preferences for certain types of same. At one stage I said, “It’s hard to beat a good western.”
A lad of about 40 retorted, “Ah… John Wayne.”
In one way his comment was to be expected for Wayne’s name is synonymous with what I in my younger days referred to as ‘the cowboy films’.
Like a lot of other people nowadays I have a satellite dish and multiple viewing channels as a result.
When I feel like watching or recording a western, I scan the listings on certain specific stations that are into showing ‘Old West’ movies. If I’m to be honest (my subscription package is a very basic one) most of the films that are screened are ones that I’ve already seen.
That scenario doesn’t deter me, however, for there’s always the possibility that I’ll find a gem that I never knew existed and…that sometimes happens!
One such nugget turned up recently: it’s called No Name on the Bullet (1959) and has Audie Murphy featuring in the lead role.
Unfortunately, the sort of gems that I’m looking for don’t come my way often enough. I have a couple of back-up plans when I’m really stuck, however, and one of those plans entails watching re-runs of certain classic ‘western series’ that crop up on ‘the box’ from time to time….like Bonanza for instance or…Rawhide with Clint Eastwood in the saddle.
Mention Eastwood’s name in company and in double quick time you’ll hear the words Dirty Harry. Long before that particular movie hit the cinemas, Clint had made a name for himself as The Man with No Name in the Dollars Trilogy, a trio of movies that spawned the term ‘spaghetti western’.
I’ve seen every western that Eastwood starred in. In my opinion the best of them all was the one called Pale Rider, a production whose plot lines were very, very similar to those pertaining to a film made back in 1953. That movie was none other than Shane; it is reckoned to be one of the greatest cowboy films ever.