The MoFo Top 100 Westerns: Countdown

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Movie Forums: There's Just No Accounting For Taste
Haven't seen and not going to watch:
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The other two I can understand, but why this one?
I've tried to watch this slanted, preachy, pile of crap several times, not attempting it again.

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Rio Bravo is a film which elicits great love from its fans. I think more of it now than I once did - I'll even watch it every time it's on if there isn't something else I haven't seen. But I still don't see why so many people find it so cool or something to "hang out" with (other than my having it on in the background ), and I grew up with it. I guess I don't belong to the cult of Hawks, even if I think he's a very good director and the auteur theory makes watching his films more interesting and significant.

It's amazing how basically nothing happens in Rio Bravo, but it's still watchable. On the other hand, I'll admit that there's nothing really wrong with what happens in Rio Bravo which wouldn't make a decent little 90-minute action western, but the problem is that Hawks made the film 141 minutes. What's even more telling about Hawks at this latter end of his career is that he basically retooled this movie three times later: El Dorado and Rio Lobo as actual westerns and Hatari! with Wayne making a modern western set in Africa and running 157 minutes! All four movies have basically the same sets of characters going through similar situations to try to survive and make things right.

It didn't make my list, bur one that did (at #9) is Barbarosa.

Barbarosa (Fred Schepisi, 1982)

I've always loved this quirky western ever since I first watched it in the theatre. It's gorgeously photographed and Willie Nelson and Gary Busey make such a great team that it's a shame that they didn't make more films together. What sets this western apart from most is that it evolves from a revenge flick into a sly fairy tale about families and the lengths a man will go to try to protect his and perhaps reinvent himself to find true happiness. Willie Nelson is great as Barbarosa, a bandit who married into a Mexican family but was immediately cast out and has been hunted by that family for about 20 years. Gary Busey is a "farm boy" who accidentally killed an in-law and is on the run from the dead man's father and brothers. Busey comes across Barbarosa, becomes his partner and learns the ropes from the wise veteran, but even more important, he learns about family life and the unfortunate truth it can sometimes present as well as the beautiful rewards it can lead to depending on one's outlook on life. Just in case it sounds like I'm painting this film as too dark, I have to mention that the quirkiness extends to its sense of humor which is also quite generous and gives Willie Nelson an all-time great line when he first meets up with "Angel Morales". Gilbert Roland also delivers a strong performance as the stern patrician of the Mexican family who is actually Barbarosa's father-in-law. The film's climax is also just about perfect.

My List

1. Little Big Man
3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
4. The Outlaw Josey Wales
7. One-Eyed Jacks
8. The Professionals
9. Barbarosa
10. Red River
11. Oklahoma!
12. Hud
13. The Big Country
14. Giant
17. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
19. The Ox-Bow Incident
20. The Ballad of Cable Hogue
22. Support Your Local Sheriff!
23. The Revenant
24. There Will Be Blood
LOOOVE Barbarosa!!! Completely agree with everything you've said.
Been a couple of decades since I've seen it and kept wanting to rectify it while preparing for this Countdown. I even seriously considered throwing in as a nomination for the Westerns III HoF as a lesser-known gem. Going with The Grey Fox instead.
They say: that after people make love there's a kind of melancholia, the petite mort, the little death. Well, I'm here to tell you, after a romantic night with yourself there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide. ~Dylan Moran

Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Rio Bravo made my List at #16

Rio Bravo

Pat Wheeler: A game-legged old man and a drunk. That's all you got?
John T. Chance: That's WHAT I got.

Since it's nearly impossible not to discuss a film that is or has a remake without comparison, we'll get that outta the way, right out of the gate.
I've watched the remake, El Dorado quite a number of times throughout my life. Enjoying James Caan as the youngster who can't actually shoot so John Wayne's character gets him a shot-off shotgun; to Robert Mitchum playing the Sheriff at the bottom of a bottle and [email protected] reluctant to get back out of it.
I had scarcely remembered Rio Bravo since I have not seen it since my early teens and while it HAS been almost a decade since last since seeing El Dorado, to make a true comparison, Rio Bravo may, very possibly, be the grittier of the two.
In particularly with specific characters. Dean Martin's deputy is a far more tragic/humanistic character. Delving deeper into the realities of a drunkard trying to climb his way out of a bottle with all the fears embodied in it. And Martin really brings his best to this role. It's not a caricature, not the funny drunk, but a broken man searching for the courage he fully believes has left him.
And, like Martin, little teen idol Ricky Nelson does the quiet, wise, youngster that is not only good with his guns but has a head on his shoulders, is far better than is expected.
The movie has a number of solid shoot-out scenes supporting this where the upper hand is won by out-thinking an opponent instead of simply having the quicker hand.

Now, add Walter Brennan and John Wayne doing what they do best, this could very well be Howard Hawks' best rendition before continually going back to remake it.

Movies Watched 65 out of 91 (71.43%)

John Wayne Films: Four
Clint Eastwood Films: One


1. Will Make it
2. Open Range (#36)
3. SHOULD Make it
4. Will Make it
5. Will Make it
6. Ride The High Country (#63)
7. The Proposition (#46)
8. SHOULD Make it
9. Won't Make it
10. The Cowboys (#50)
11. The Grey Fox (#66)
12. The Great Silence (#34)
13. The Gunfighter (#40)
14. 3:10 To Yuma '07 (#29)
15. Oxbow Incident (#19)
16. Rio Bravo (#10)
17. True Grit '10 (#22)
18. Will Make it
19. The Quick & The Dead (#42)
20. High Plains Drifter (#31)
21. Might Not Make it
22. The Big Country (#27)
23. Stagecoach (#23)
24. Red River (#56)
25. Dirty Little Billy (#108)

Rectification List (for my own old decrepit noodle)
1. Warlock (#94)
2. Naked Spur (#86)
3. The Great Train Robbery (#60)
4. Winchester '73 (#53)
5. 3:10 To Yuma ['57] (#48)
6. Jeremiah Johnson (#37)

We've gone on holiday by mistake
Just watch Assault On Precinct 13 instead. The proper 70's one, that is.
BIt random but I discovered "Carpenter Brut" on You Tube, a synth artist who named his stage name after John Carpenter. He's got some great songs, a proper treat for any Carpenter fan. Especially his songs "Le Perv" and "Turbo Killer".

For a Few Dollars More was my #2. My (slightly altered) write-up from the 60's Countdown:
For a Few Dollars More seems to get overlooked sometimes for being the middle child, but I think it's the best of the trilogy. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is a staggering achievement, but I think it suffers from pacing issues. Lee Van Cleef might be "The Bad," but the true villain in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is greed, which is interesting and all, but it lacks the emotional gravitas of familial vengeance that makes For a Few Dollars More so much more engaging. Plus I simply think it's more fun watching Van Cleef and Eastwood as unlikely allies than enemies. The scene where they first test each others' mettle -- essentially a dick-measuring contest, spaghetti western style -- making their hats dance in the air with bullets, is one of my all-time favorite moments. The climactic duel involving the pocket watch is another. One of the coolest, most entertaining, bad-ass westerns ever made.

Rio Bravo was my #3. Tarantino has gone on record numerous times to express his adoration for Hawks's optimistic counterpoint to High Noon, and it's easy to see the influence that the two-and-a-half hour western has played on Tarantino's career. In fact, I'd say that Rio Bravo has likely shaped QT's approach to cinema more than any other film. Rio Bravo has plot and action and romance, but like most QT films, the movie's much more focused on the downtime in between. Just prop your feet up and hang out with the characters. Maybe string a nearby guitar or play a few hands of poker. No need to get in a hurry; we've got all afternoon. In lesser hands, such an approach would likely be boring and feel like bloat, but there's magic in Rio Bravo. Just my rifle, my pony and me, hanging out with a Sheriff, his drunk deputy and a handsome young crooner.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was my #7. It's surprising to see how many of you don't view it as a western. I saw it featured highly on several "best westerns" lists when I was first getting into the genre and looking for recommendations, so maybe that's why I've never thought of it as anything else. (Yet I didn't vote for There Will Be Blood despite the many similarities, even though it's a five-star film, so I'm not at all consistent with these genre designations.) Sierra Madre served as my introduction to Bogart. He's since become one of my absolute favorite actors, and I've grown to appreciate his performance as the greedy prospector much more after realizing how against type it was for him. Even when playing gangsters and heavies in his early roles, Bogart exuded class and coolness, so it's striking to see him so dirty and unkempt, playing a character who reeks of pathetic desperation. Countless films have dealt with greed and moral corruption, but very few of them have mined those themes as well as this one.

The Outlaw Josey Wales was my #17. As others have mentioned, the humor and supporting cast -- Chief Dan George, in particular -- help to transform this already great western into something special. The movie features many of the usual ingredients that draw me to the genre -- the rebelliousness, the violence, the machismo, the hard living, etc. -- but there's also a genuine softness here that is absent in the other westerns Eastwood directed. Anti-war, pro-family. Also features some of the most iconic lines in movie history ("Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy."), in addition to some sweet tobacco spitting. I've watched this numerous times, but it's been several years since my last viewing, which likely cost it a few spots on my ballot.

Django Unchained was my #22. Even though only a few points separated them, I'm still a little surprised this placed lower than The Hateful Eight, as Django Unchained has always seemed more popular among the two. I re-watched Hateful Eight earlier this year for the first time since seeing it in the theater. It was better than I'd remembered, but the confined setting and unpleasant characters make it the least re-watchable Tarantino for me personally. Django Unchained, on the other hand, is just immensely entertaining. A little bit of Corbucci, a little bit of blaxploitation, a whole lot of Tarantino being his messy, overindulgent self in grand, violent, quotable, hilarious fashion. I still have a few issues with it -- I've never been a fan of Jamie Foxx, and I think his performance is dwarfed by all the larger-than-life characters around him; and the section involving QT and his mangled Australian accent has always struck me as the weakest part of the movie at the worst possible time; but those are nitpicks that don't detract much from the overall experience.

My List:
#2) For a Few Dollars More (1965)
#3) Rio Bravo (1959)
#4) The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
#5) Johnny Guitar (1954)
#7) The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
#9) The Gunfighter (1950)
#10) Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
#11) 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
#12) High Plains Drifter (1973)
#13) The Great Silence (1968)
#16) The Big Country (1958)
#17) The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
#21) Winchester ‘73 (1950)
#22) Django Unchained (2012)
#23) Stagecoach (1939)
#25) True Grit (1969)

Rio Bravo was my #17. It's often mentioned when there's any discussion anywhere (internet, TV, etc.) about great Westerns. I saw it a long time ago and didn't remember much (by a long time ago, I mean my childhood) but revisited it a few years back and loved it, then again about a year ago and still loved it, so it's held up for me very well. I don't know what Wayne was talking about when he said High Noon was a "Communist Western" but the IMDB says this:

John Wayne set up and ran an "anti-Communist" organization for the film industry. He strongly disliked this movie because he knew it was an allegory for blacklisting, which he and his friend Ward Bond had strongly and actively supported. Twenty years later he was still criticizing it, in his controversial May 1971 interview with "Playboy" Magazine, during which he claimed that Gary Cooper had thrown his marshal's badge to the ground and stepped on it. He also stated he would never regret having driven blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman out of Hollywood. The fact is that while Kane threw his badge to the ground, he did not step on it.

I had never heard about Wayne setting up and running an "anti-Communist" organization. I know that IMDB is basically run by fans who contribute "facts" that may or may not be true. Since they didn't give a link to where they got that info, I don't know. They separated that tidbit from the Playboy magazine interview. Who knows? I do know that Wayne was strongly anti-Communist, but the mention from IMDB that Wayne knew the movie was an "allegory for blacklisting." Other than at IMDB, I never thought the movie was that, I just thought it was a straight-up good guy against the bad guys movie.

I guess I can get the blacklisting angle but I've also heard that Wayne didn't like it that one man faced the bad guys alone, so his answer was Rio Bravo with a group of good guys against the bad guys. But Wayne, as someone said earlier, often early in his career faced the bad guys alone. Eh, whatta ya gonna do? Both are great movies, no matter what the "allegory" is.

My list so far:
Hombre Me: 13 The list proper: 88
The Naked Spur Me: 25 The list proper: 86
Ride the High Country Me: 10 The list proper: 63
Winchester '73 Me: 20 The list proper: 53
El Dorado Me: 2 The list proper: 47
The Professionals Me: 23 The list proper: 45
Shane Me: 12 The list proper: 43
True Grit Me: 4 The list proper: 38
Open Range Me: 19 The list proper: 36
Tombstone Me: 15 The list proper: 28
The Big Country Me: 9 The list proper: 27
The Magnificent Seven Me: 5 The list proper: 24
For a Few Dollars More Me: 6 The list proper: 18
A Fistful of Dollars Me: 7 The list proper: 16
The Outlaw Josey Wales Me: 1 The list proper: 13
Rio Bravo Me: 17 The list proper: 10
"Miss Jean Louise, Mr. Arthur Radley."

A system of cells interlinked
Trying to recall where I head more scuttlebutt on High Noon and its alleged communist allegory, but I have definitely run across that before, as well. I think it was in a YouTube presentation that talked about the blacklisting movement itself, and perhaps mentioned High Noon in a list of other films that were allegedly communist. A quick scan of some web pages just now didn't reveal much, aside from an odd penchant for these pages to conflate Hollywood blacklisting with McCarthyism, often pointing out films that attacked McCarthyism as a Hollywood response to blacklisting. McCarthy (a senator), wasn't involved in any House proceedings, which were instead led by the likes of McCormack and Dies. Anyway, I have seen it mentioned from time to time, but as with much allegory that was of a time, it doesn't play the same these days, and I (a guy that is fairly annoyed by communist stuff in general) didn't notice anything of the kind while watching High Noon. Sorry, Mr. Wayne!
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

I had never heard about Wayne setting up and running an "anti-Communist" organization. I know that IMDB is basically run by fans who contribute "facts" that may or may not be true.
Yes, Wayne was so anti-Communist that he was proudly pro-McCarthyism. He was one of its biggest and most visible proponents in Hollywood.

Check out a crappy movie called Big Jim McLain (1952). It was released the same year as High Noon, and was the first movie Wayne produced. He plays an ass-kickin' member of HUAC, rooting out the Jews in the unions to find Commies in the new State of Hawaii. It is just awful pablum, not even entertaining in a so-bad-it's-good MST3K kinda way, but very revealing about Wayne's state of mind and politics. It's offensively inept if you can manage to stay awake though it.

"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

... IMDB says this:

John Wayne set up and ran an "anti-Communist" organization for the film industry. He strongly disliked this movie because he knew it was an allegory for blacklisting, which he and his friend Ward Bond had strongly and actively supported. Twenty years later he was still criticizing it, in his controversial May 1971 interview with "Playboy" Magazine, during which he claimed that Gary Cooper had thrown his marshal's badge to the ground and stepped on it. He also stated he would never regret having driven blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman out of Hollywood. The fact is that while Kane threw his badge to the ground, he did not step on it.

I had never heard about Wayne setting up and running an "anti-Communist" organization. I know that IMDB is basically run by fans who contribute "facts" that may or may not be true. Since they didn't give a link to where they got that info, I don't know.
IMDB has lots of misinformation in it's trivia section for movies. As far as I know John Wayne didn't 'run an anti-Communist organization'. My guess is whoever wrote that was lazy and just mentally filled that in from memory. What I suspect they meant was that Wayne was a staunch supporter of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was a U.S. Congressional committee that investigated the threat of Communist infiltration and influence in America, especially in Hollywood. Most of the Hollywood community were vehemently opposed to the committee. Especially as actors & screen writers, were often subpoenaed and hauled in front of this powerful committee. Once there they were asked to name the names of people they knew who might be involved in Communism and it often meant their careers were over due to black listing. Their friends dared not speak up on their behalf or hire them in Hollywood ,or they too would be hauled in front of the committee. Which is a lot like the plot of High Noon, where Cooper's friends are all too scared of the consequences to help him.

Very surprised to see those Tarantino films anywhere near as high as they are tbh

Just watched The Proposition. It’s definitely not a movie that I think I could ever truly love, but it’s pretty damn impressive. Shame I didn’t know about it before the deadline. It definitely would’ve made it somewhere on my ballot if I had seen it in time.

Since Rio Bravo and El Dorado are basically the same movie, I wanted to choose only one of the two movies for my list, even though I like both movies, and I could easily see both movies making my list. Even though I had already rewatched both of these movies within the first few weeks of preparing for this countdown, I decided to rewatch both movies again in the last week to decide which movie should make my list.

My final decision was that I couldn't decide between them because I liked them both too much to cut either movie from my list, so in the end, both movies ended up on my list, with Rio Bravo landing a few spots higher at #18.

My list so far:
1) Oklahoma! (1955)
3) No Name on the Bullet (1959)
6) Support Your Local Sheriff (1969)
7) The Frisco Kid (1979)
8) The Gunfighter (1950)
9) Maverick (1994)
12) North to Alaska (1960)
13) The Bravados (1958)
16) City Slickers (1991)
17) The Hanging Tree (1959)
18) Rio Bravo (1959)
19) Winchester '73 (1950)
20) The Quick and The Dead (1995)
22) The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)
23) El Dorado (1967)
25) Incredible Rocky Mountain Race (TV Movie - 1977)
If I answer a game thread correctly, just skip my turn and continue with the game.

"Let’s go."

Sam Peckinpah’s bloody masterpiece The Wild Bunch sits in the ninth position. That leaves him with four entries joining The Ballad of Cable Hogue (#83), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (#74), and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (#67) from the bottom half of the list. William Holden, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, and Warren Oates top the cast that also showcases Edmond O’Brien, Jaime Sánchez, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Emilio Fernández, Bo Hopkins, and Alfonso Arau. A small band of outlaws in the early 20th Century seem to have outlived their guns, looking for one last big score before they retire. They target a railroad office but the railroad, who has been hit by them before, has organized their own gang of bounty hunters, reluctantly led by a former friend. After a shoot out in the middle of town the robbers escape but get no money and are forced to ride into Mexico where they agree to take a job for a Mexican General who needs weapons to fight the uprising of Pancho Villa. It is a devil’s bargain that ends bloodier than any Western had, up to that time (though a kiddie movie compared to Tarantino). For generations of Hollywood Westerns on the big and small screen you couldn’t even show a gun firing and its human target in the same frame, and what little blood there was never looked anything close to realistic. The Spaghetti Westerns broke all of those kinds of rules but Hollywood was slower to join the revolution. And then there was The Wild Bunch. While the slow-motion, balletic carnage is what Peckinpah is most famous for, The Wild Bunch is not viewed as a masterpiece for that rule breaking alone. It’s about codes and honor among thieves and men turning old, and that along with the action sequences and gallons of blood is what makes it such a cinematic beacon.

The Wild Bunch was on twenty-nine ballots. Somehow it received no first or second place votes but did have four third place, two fourth, three sixth, a seventh, three eighth, two ninth, and a tenth that all added up to ten more points than Rio Bravo.

The Wild Bunch was, no surprise, high on my list. With a handle like Holden Pike (William Holden plays Pike Bishop) if it wasn’t near the top you’d have to wonder what the heck was up. I had it at number three, twenty-three of my points going towards its 426 total. You can read more of my thoughts on the flick HERE but suffice to say this is one of those movies that is deeply ingrained in my cinematic DNA. I have been lucky to see it several times on the big screen where the elemental storytelling and cinematography by Lucien Ballard nearly reduce me to tears.

3. The Wild Bunch (#9)
4. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (#17)
5. Little Big Man (#38)
6. The Ox-Bow Incident (#19)
7. The Ballad of Cable Hogue (#83)
9. Dead Man (#26)
10. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (#52)
11. Lonely Are the Brave (#104)
12. The Great Silence (#34)
13. My Name is Nobody (#79)
14. The Grey Fox (#66)
16. Hombre (#88)
17. The Big Country (#27)
18. Pursued (#73)
19. Jeremiah Johnson (#37)
20. The Outlaw Josey Wales (#13)
21. One-Eyed Jacks (#32)
23. The Professionals (#45)
24. The Revenant (#25)
25. Support Your Local Sheriff! (#89)

Have I seen The Wild Bunch? Quite possibly as it's Peckinpah but if I have it was ages ago and I remember absolutely diddly about it. Needless to say it wasn't on my ballot.

Seen: 57/92
My list:  

Faildictions (yee-haw version 1.12):
8. The Tall T
Pre-1930 Countdown

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