I am currently working on a month long series of video reviews/essays on the history of the western on film. This was inspired by James Rolfe Monster Madness series, which sparked my interest in horror films. I’ve come up with a list of 31 titles to discuss, one for each day of the month. I would appreciate any input you all might have. It should be noted that I’ve selected films for their impact on the genre and on pop culture, as opposed to any artistic or technical merits (though many of these films are among the best the genre has to offer). My object here is to present viewers with a basic understanding of the genre and it’s history, not to supply an exhaustive list of recommendations.
This is what I’ve come up with so far (in chronological order):
- Hell’s Hinges (1918)
- Sky High (1922)
- The Covered Wagon (1923)
- Hopalong Cassidy (1935)
- Tumbling Tumbleweeds (1935)
- Jesse James (1939)
- Stagecoach (1939)
- King of the Cowboys (1943)
- The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
- John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy (1948-1950)
- Winchester 73’ (1950)
- Broken Arrow (1950)
- High Noon (1952)
- Shane (1953)
- Seven Men from Now (1956)
- The Searchers (1956)
- Rio Bravo (1959)
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
- The Dollars Trilogy (1964-1966)
- Django (1966)
- A Bullet for the General (1966)
- Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
- The Wild Bunch (1969)
- They Call Me Trinity (1970)
- Blazing Saddles (1973)
- The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
- The Shootist (1976)
- Dances with Wolves (1990)
- Unforgiven (1992)
- Tombstone (1993)
- True Grit (2010)
I was also considering:
The Virginian (1929) because it’s the first sound western.
Under Western Stars (1938) as it’s the first Roy Rogers feature, I think King of the Cowboys is probably more representative of a typical Roger’s outing.
My Darling Clementine (1946) and Red River (1948) for obvious reasons. I couldn’t find room for them in the end, and both directors are represented with other films.
The Magnificent Seven (1960) mainly because it spawned so many imitators, again I couldn’t find room for it.
Cat Ballou (1965) as many cite this as a significant western though I’m unclear why.
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) as a representative of the art-house westerns of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Couldn’t find room for it.
Django Unchained (2012) as it’s probably the most successful western of the past ten years. I opted not to include it because, for one, it’s hard to say at this point how much influence it will continue to have and, secondly, I’m not a huge fan.