Thursday, 24 November 2016

Thursday Movie Picks #123: Westerns

 An easy week this week as there are hundreds of superb films to choose from. Please visit for more information on Thursday Movie Picks.

There’s not many of these about, but this horror-westerns is like The Searchers meets The Hills Have Eyes. It is a slow burner, but it suddenly explodes and becomes a quite graphic and bloody horror film. The landscapes are sparse and match many of the Western landscapes perfectly captured in the films of John Ford and the tension is built masterfully as whatever kidnapped the victims haunts the empty, chilly nights.

There’s not many of these about either, but there has been a few released recently. The Homesman is a female centered Western (Jane Got a Gun is also a female led western but The Homesman is better) led by Hilary Swank. Hilary Swank is a lonely, single women who agrees to transport three mentally insane women across the American Frontier. Directed by Tommy Lee Jones, Swank is terrific in her well developed and engaging role.

There really are some amazing Western movies out there, so trying to pick the very best one is difficult. I’m going to go for Once upon a Time in the West. Utterly brilliant western that has one of Henry Fonda’s finest performance, even though it was completely against type.


  1. I also went with Bone Tomahawk. It's probably my favorite Western.

  2. I've heard of all of them, but I haven't seen them.

  3. I haven't seen Bone Tomahawk but I have seen the other 2 . homespun is different and one that I do enjoy but Once Upon a Time In the West is brilliant! Love the casting of Fonda as the ruthless head trying to take over a piece of the land and Bronsonas harmonica who knows how to deal with him. The music...brilliant. I have a record of the music.

  4. Once Upon a Time in the West is a genius pick! Such a good movie and a classic of the genre. It's been a while since I've seen it I'll have to revisit it soon.

    Homesman was extremely well acted but equally grim and downbeat. I'm glad I watched it but wouldn't do so again.

    Haven't seen Bone Tomahawk, probably won't-the horror angle just isn't for me.

    I'm a big fan of the genre so it was tougher narrowing down than choices than coming up with them and I still ended up with an extra.

    Hannie Caulder (1971)-After she’s been raped, her home burned and her husband murdered before her eyes by three brothers Hannie Caulder (Raquel Welch) is hell bent on revenge. She tracks down bounty hunter Thomas Price (Robert Culp) and pressures him into training her to be a deadly shot then starts her hunt for justice. Tough, violent western with Welch hard as nails in the lead.

    River of No Return (1954)-Vigorous tale set in the 19th century Pacific Northwest of widowed farmer Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum), recently released from jail for an honor killing, his young son Mark, the beautiful showgirl Kay (Marilyn Monroe) and her ruthless gambler fiancé Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun) who cross their path and a perilous raft journey down The River of No Return in a quest for gold and redemption. Big stars, standard story and beautiful location filming in the Canadian Rockies make this worth seeing. Marilyn sings several good era appropriate songs well including the title song though Mitchum sings it over the credits.
    Side note: Mitchum & Monroe (when she was still Norma Jean Dougherty) knew each other well pre-fame, he worked with her first husband, which adds a bit of background dimension to their interaction in this film.

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)-When Senator Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) arrives in the small western town of Shinbone for old friend Tom Doniphon’s (John Wayne) funeral a curious reporter pursues him and tries to find out why he would travel so far for a man no one knows anything about. Stoddard shares a story of arriving in Shinbone a greenhorn young lawyer years before and how he rose to his current position by being the infamous Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), a notoriously evil outlaw, and what part Doniphon played. A study of myth building and busting is director John Ford’s last great film.

    Bonus: Silverado (1985)-Reformed thief Paden (Kevin Kline), left for dead in the desert is rescued by Emmett (Scott Glenn) who’s passing by on his way to meet his rakish quick draw brother Jake (Kevin Costner) so they can visit their sister in Silverado before heading out to California. Along the way they befriend Mal (Danny Glover) who’s heading the same way. Once there Paden finds the town is run by his old gang led by Cobb (Brian Dennehy) now the sheriff as well as the owner of the saloon operated by the wise Stella (Linda Hunt). There’s a range war brewing and the boys are pulled in leading to a showdown. Solid western directed well by Lawrence Kasdan.

  5. My knowledge of Westerns is quite limited. I know the names but not seen them.

  6. Once Upon a Time in the West is the first western I've ever seen! And it was so good. I really need to rewatch it.

  7. I've only seen Once Upon a Time in the West, which is sad. However, it is my favorite Western of all-time, so there's that.

  8. I've heard of The Homesman before but never really knew what it was about - sounds interesting. I do want to see Jane Got a Gun as well.