The MoFo Top 100 Westerns: Countdown

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I've got a busy couple days of work coming up, so while I have a minute here are Wednesday and Thursday's reveals.I'll be back on Friday with #60 and #59.



The next Spaghetti Western to make the cut is Sergio Corbucci’s infamous Django. As with Leone’s breakthrough this one is also a sort of riff on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest. Franco Nero stars as the title character, a square-jawed ex-Union soldier dragging around a coffin who becomes embroiled in a territorial war between a former Confederate Officer and a Mexican General who use one muddy little town as the (mostly) neutral ground of their hate-filled power grab. Django was notorious at the time for its violence and carnage. Made on a shoestring budget it was the full unleashing of Corbucci and it made him a bit of a star on the international stage, if forever in the shadow of Leone. Django’s success spawned a couple dozen copycat knockoffs all using the Django name, but none of them are related to Corbucci’s film. Franco Nero finally reprised his most famous character in 1987’s Django Strikes Again directed by Nello Rossati, and superfan Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained features a cameo from Nero as well as the original theme song making it at least a spiritual successor. Bloody Django and his machine gun were on only four ballots, but three of those were top tens with a fourth, a fifth, and an eighth place vote.



Sam Peckinpah’s fourth film on the countdown was his second feature film after five years of writing and directing Westerns for the small screen including ”Gunsmoke”, “Have Gun – Will Travel”, “The Rifleman”, and creating the short-lived series ”The Westerner”. Ride the High Country would examine some of the same themes he would revisit for his masterpiece The Wild Bunch, including old timers outliving their guns, lost honor, and the old West beginning to make way for the changes of the 20th century. This one stars Joel McRae, probably best remembered for his two comedies with Preston Sturges The Palm Beach Story and Sullivan’s Travels, and screen legend Randolph Scott in his final film role, having starred in over sixty Westerns going back to 1929’s The Virginian. McRae and Scott play two aging former lawmen who are hired to guard and transport gold from a California mining camp into town. Miners have been getting ambushed and murdered along the trail so they pool their resources and hire these trustworthy gunmen to handle the job. Along the way they meet a religious zealot and his daughter (R.G. Armstrong & Mariette Hartley in her debut) as well as the scuzzy Hammond Brothers including L.Q. Jones and Warren Oates. Double crosses and shootouts fill the brisk 92-minutes, though minus the slow-motion carnage Peckinpah would become famous for by the end of the decade. The relationship between Scott and McRae and the lament of wanting “to enter my house justified” are among the elements that lead to this often being identified as Sam’s first great movie. Ride the High Country was on six ballots with three top ten votes in a fourth, a sixth, and a tenth.



City Slickers was a huge hit, a comedy smash about three Baby Boomers (Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, and Daniel Stern) who try and head their midlife crises off at the pass by living out the dream of playing cowboys, signing up for a real cattle drive that takes on amateurs for vacations. The trail boss is played by grizzled Western legend Jack Palance in the role that won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Friendships are strengthened and life lessons learned with plenty of character-based humor and a gooey newly born calf. It was popular enough to spawn a sequel, but the charm of the original didn’t quite transfer (and Bruno Kirby passed on returning for the second round up). City Slickers finished with the same number of points as Ride the High Country but was on one more ballot. It took in seven votes including a sixth place nod.

The second version of the Billy the Kid legend to make the countdown is less Peckinpah and more St. Elmo's Fire but it does at least cast somebody closer to the age of the infamous killer in Emilio Estevez. Young Guns also casts Jack Palance – though without any awards attention – as well as Terence Stamp, Brian Keith, and Patrick Wayne. But not one of those veterans was the selling point. Joining Estevez as the titular underage weapons in this version of the Lincoln County War are his real-life brother Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Dermot Mulroney, and Casey Siemaszko. The good-looking headliners led to the flick being branded a Brat Pack Western. While perhaps not entirely fair this was clearly marketed at the teens and pre-teens of the late 1980s. It did finish in the top twenty for domestic box office take that year (at #19 between Colors and Biloxi Blues) which was enough to justify a Bon Jovi-fueled sequel two years later, so if it was a calculated effort the calculations were close enough. Here at MoFo Young Guns appeared on five ballots including as somebody’s tippy top pick.

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Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
I was speaking to Rodent.. Didn't vote for any of them.
Django is a pretty good spaghetti western. Even though all the "plot twists" are readily apparent, it's quite enjoyable, plus it's amazing how the film presaged many other better westerns, including The Professionals and The Wild Bunch. It's also got the coffin gimmick, a rope bridge, quicksand, redneck racists, irrational Mexicans (at the end), a faux Elvis Presley theme song, and Django doesn't even need to recuperate from broken hands like Brando did in One-Eyed Jacks. I guess that means Django IS the man!

Ride the High Country may not be the classic it's made out to be by some semi-modern critics, but it's easily a film which is well-worth seeing repeatedly and one which shows how the entire genre evolved and inched that much closer to the concept of revisionism. This is basically a mainstream western, and one which was only thought of as semi-important, even though it contained Randolph Scott's last performance and Joel McCrea's last significant one. Peckinpah teamed up with DP Lucien Ballard for the first time (he used him four more times in the future, beginning with The Wild Bunch). This was Warren Oates' first Peckinpah film, and he's rather important in introducing Peck's theme that women are mostly abused by males, especially the most-immature, but sometimes the females can turn the tables on the men. The problem is that when "immature" boys get into a group, their first thought seems to be to retaliate by killing and then by raping. Within the studio system in a lower-mid-level production, there seems to be a great deal of artistic freedom, and it almost seems like Peckinpah was being groomed for stardom. However, his metier seemed to be realistic deaths in ugly surroundings and violent showdown finales, hopefully with something involving camraderie among cowboy friends and chivalry among aging cowboys. If you have never seen a western in your life or have never seen this particular western. make sure you give it a shot. I haven't even mentioned R.G. Armstrong, L.Q. Jones, James Drury, John Anderson, Edgar Buchanan and, in a surprisingly affective performance, young Ron Starr, who never actually made another movie again, even if he conceived a child with Meg Foster.

City Slickers is a fun cattle drive with a great cast, highlighted by the awesome Jack Palance.


Young Guns is sonehow better than it should be.



Finally something I have seen!

City Slickers is a fine comedy that I’ve always enjoyed. I vaguely recall liking the sequel as well. It didn’t get my vote though.

I attempted to watch Young Guns but quickly became bored and didn’t finish it.



The Grey Fox is a good movie, but it didn't make my list, probably because it was a bit too slow.

City Slickers is one of the movies that was immediately placed on my list when this countdown was announced. I wasn't sure if it would still be on my list after watching a bunch of other westerns, but I rewatched it, and it stood the test of time. It placed at #16 on my list.

Young Guns is another movie that I thought would probably make my list, and it stood the test of time when I rewatched it, but it just got pushed down by a bunch of other movies, and ended up missing my final list. I'm glad to see that it made the countdown anyway, without my help.


My list so far:
1) Oklahoma! (1955)
6) Support Your Local Sheriff (1969)
7) The Frisco Kid (1979)
9) Maverick (1994)
12) North to Alaska (1960)
13) The Bravados (1958)
16) City Slickers (1991)
17) The Hanging Tree (1959)
25) Incredible Rocky Mountain Race (TV Movie - 1977)
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Never seen City Slickers, just never really appealed to me (not much of a Billy Crystal fan outside of Soap). I probably saw Young Guns back in the day but I've no real memory of it and so it won't be being tallied as 'seen'. Ride The High Country was on my extremely long list to watch for this but was sadly another of those I never managed to get round to.

Which leaves Django as the sole one of these four I've watched in recent years and whilst it's an enjoyable enough watch it just didn't do enough to blaze a way onto my ballot.

Seen: 18/40 (*dbl sigh*)
My list:  

Faildictions (yee-haw version 1.01):
60. Dead Man
59. Bend Of The River

Edit:
Watched The Grey Fox this morn as that seen percentage needed a bit of a boost, no complaints with it making the countdown from me even if it wouldn't have made my personal ballot.
Seen: 19/40
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Almost famous for having nailed Madonna once



Man... I have seen El Topo and and i completely forgot about it and didn't add it to my list. All that Whiskey!
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Django and City Slickers are my favorites of the 4 but they didn't make my ballot. I thought Ride the High Country was average in 2014 and I probably should have watched it again. Only saw Young Guns for the 1st time for this and I didn't think it was very good.



Leben findet einen weg...
Hehehehehhheheheheee!


City Slickers is another I almost voted for.
Nice as well to see Django get some love. It tends to get forgotten after Tarantino's recent outing made such a splash.


But...



Yeah, Young Guns is my #1... and my 5th to make it.


61st place? Happy with that.
Coulda been a lot worse but I guess over the years it's become something of a MoFo staple to occasionally rip into me over it, and made it part of MoFo's popular mind


I've explained Young Guns before, but it made me a historian so-to-speak.
Watched it when I was about 10 years old, and got hooked on studying the Lincoln War... and watched Young Guns about 2500 times (not joking, genuinely).
Studied so much of it, those unconfirmed pictures that Sexy Celebrity posted with two people playing croquet and some others on horseback, I immediately named everyone in the pictures without even needing reference pictures


The Lincoln County War was a huge part of my childhood studies, so I'm super happy to have the most accurate movie based on it, make MoFo's list
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1. Young Guns - 61st
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11. The Sons Of Katie Elder - 100th

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18. Westworld - 69th

19. Pat Garret And Billy The Kid - 67th

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I'm so glad the best film with Django on its name made the countdown even if it will appear below other Django(s). It's a hell of a film. Grittier and darker than any Leone's western and it has an almost supernatural atmosphere which I adore!

It was my #5.

Seen: 7/40

My list:

25. Lucky Luke: la Ballade des Daltons (1 pointer)
14. Duck, You Sucker!
9. The Big Gundown
7. The Mercenary
5. Django



I've not seen: Django & City Slickers.

Ride the High Country...

Ride the High Country (Sam Peckinpah 1962)

Ride the High Country...they did a lot of that alright, though that journey in the high country wasn't all that interesting. The movie picked up it's pace once they arrived at the miner's camp where the young runaway woman (Mariette Hartley) gets a surprise wedding to Clevis and his brothers: lil' Clevis, Clevis jr. and big un' Clevis, all to her dismay.

Not much is made of the dangerous gold transportation mission taken on by an aging ex-lawman (Joel McCrea) and his unreliable friend (Randolph Scott) until the last scenes. The last scene is decent, but mostly this film never seemed to bring the characters or the plot to life.


Young Guns
Young Guns

OK, I think we all know the alternative title for this film But I liked it! Sure it's not deep or well done, but it's fun, it's entertaining...and there's nothing wrong with a movie being a fun watch. The best thing about Young Guns was Emilio Estevez. He's quite lively on the screen and made one heckuva Billy the Kid. I wish screen writers would at least plug up some of the plot holes in movies like this. It would make them more enjoyable. Still an entertaining film, though one I would not choose to watch again.
So out of the last bunch I prefer Young Guns



Films from my list so far:

17. The Furies (1950)

20. The Shooting (1966)

25. The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)



I was supposed to rewatch Django for this, but like with so many others, it never proceeded beyond a plan. I remember it having some good stuff in it, but I'm not a fan of the plot in general (whether it's done by Kurosawa, Leone or Corbucci). Hopefully, when I finally end up rewatching it, I don't find it worth my ballot

I did watch Ride the High Country for this and thought it was quite OK. I actually forgot the film when making the actual list and I sort of feel like it could have made the bottom section of my ballot.

I haven't seen Young Guns since I was a kid. I didn't like it much back then and I've never felt the need to re-evaluate. City Slickers is sort of a familiar name, but I don't think I've seen it.

Seen 14(+2)/40

My List  
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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
25. Westworld

I watched this AFTER watching the show, just to see where the story started. It was a fun movie with some good performances. Nothing too special, but interesting ideas poking through the surface, enough to warrant a last place vote from me.

19. City Slickers

This movie is a fun 90's film, with plenty of laughs to be had and a memorable performance from Jack Palance. The chemistry of the cast is fun as well.

9. Maverick

But if you want to talk about fun Westerns, this one has to take the cake. Everyone just seems to be having fun here and there is a few winks to the audience. It's a movie that you can sit back, relax and just 'enjoy' whenever.
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Seen 0/4

Seen: 5/40
- Slow West (#95)
- The Big Gundown (#85)
- The Furies (#84)
- The Shooting (#71)
- The Grey Fox (#66)

My ballot:
None
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Young Guns made my list. Absolutely loved that film through my teen years. Pretty sure I nominated it for the Western HOF. Didn't blow me away as much that watch but I still think it's a very solid Western and definitely good enough for my 25.
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9. Maverick

But if you want to talk about fun Westerns, this one has to take the cake. Everyone just seems to be having fun here and there is a few winks to the audience. It's a movie that you can sit back, relax and just 'enjoy' whenever.
Agree 100%. What a fun movie. "He's a real Jackass but hee-aw, hee-awright." One of those lines that's just always stuck with me. Had it at 24.


YG - Didn't make my list but "Did you see the size of that chicken?"




Have not seen Django but definitely intend to...one day.

Ride the High Country definitely made my list as I'm one of the few so far that regard it as the classic it is! You cannot go wrong with Peckinpah directing and Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott riding high. I'm really surprised that it didn't rate better on the list but I'm still pleased to see it here. I'm the one who placed it at #10.

City Slickers is a classic comedy that I can watch over and over. But I said the magic word, "comedy," which I only think of CS as.

Young Guns is a fun movie, with Emilio Estevez and Jack Palance chewing up the scenery, and a great cameo by the late, great Brian Keith. I even liked the sequel but the first is the best.

That said, only one made my list:

Hombre Me: 13 List proper: 88
The Naked Spur Me: 25 List proper: 86
Ride the High Country Me: 10 List proper: 63
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Richard Farsnworth is an interesting character. When only a teenager he began his Hollywood career as a stunt man. He worked on about six dozen movies starting with the Marx Brothers A Day at the Races (1937) and including Gunga Din (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Ten Commandments (1956), and Spartacus (1960). Being good with horses he was in a whole lot of Westerns from The Outlaw and Duel in the Sun to Red River and Fort Apache, from The Lusty Men and The Tin Star to Cat Ballou and Support Your Local Gunfighter, from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean to Blazing Saddles and High Plains Drifter. His last credit in the stunt department came in Claude Lelouch’s Another Man, Another Chance in 1977 when Farnsworth was fifty-seven. His face had appeared on screen many times in those decades, usually credited as Dick Farnsworth, but he didn’t get a significant speaking part until Alan J. Pakula’s Neo Western Comes a Horseman (1978) with Jane Fonda, James Caan, and Jason Robards. He was nominated for Oscar’s Best Supporting Actor, the year Christopher Walken won for The Deer Hunter. Thus began his second career as a bonafide actor. While he had many memorable supporting turns he only really starred in two films over the next twenty years. One was his last film, David Lynch’s The Straight Story, which saw him nominated as Best Actor. The other is The Grey Fox.

The Grey Fox is the true story of Bill Miner who had gotten a 33-year prison sentence in San Quentin for robbing a stagecoach. That was one of the few times he got caught, and his pleasant demeanor got him nicknames like The Gentleman Bandit and The Grey Fox. When he was released in 1901 he was sixty years old and he made his way into Canada, which is when the movie finds him. After being inspired by Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery Miner pulled what is believed to be the first train robbery in Canada. I’m not sure who has the greater life story, Farnsworth or Miner, but both come together perfectly in The Grey Fox which won seven of the thirteen Genie Awards it was nominated for including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor for Farnsworth. The Grey Fox was on six MoFo ballots including a third place nod on way to 71 points.
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Nice write-up on "Fox" and Farnsworth both. This was one of my favorite films of all time, not just in the western mode. I have ranked it all the way up at #3 in this poll.

There simply were no weaknesses in this picture: writing, directing, actors, story, cinematography, settings, and especially its phenomenal music-- mostly by The Chieftans, the Irish traditional music group. If one can't get excited by that music, then excitement is probably not possible for that individual.

When I saw this movie in the theater I felt its allure in a deep and ancestral way. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and was profoundly impressed at its conclusion. It was the role of a lifetime for Richard Farnsworth, and no one could have played it anywhere close to his depth. Such class, style, finesse, and nuance!

I'd heard that it won the Oscar for best foreign film that year, but they didn't have that category then. It did win multiple awards internationally.