James Woods and his wild bunch of vampire hunters in 'John Carpenter's Vampires'

‘John Carpenter’s Vampires’ on Amazon Prime

John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) is not just the first and only vampire film from the great American horror director, it’s the closest he’s gotten to directing an actual western. It’s not simply the dusty, dusky New Mexico setting or the Ry Cooder-esque electric country blues score. He and screenwriter Don Jakoby transform John Steakley’s novel […]

Kurt Russell in 'Bone Tomahawk,' a western directed by S. Craig Zahler

‘Bone Tomahawk’ with Kurt Russell on Amazon Prime

Bone Tomahawk (2015), the other 2015 western starring Kurt Russell, is no knock-off created to cash in on Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. The feature debut by writer / director S. Craig Zahler is a sturdy frontier western about strong but decidedly mortal settlers who take the responsibilities of community seriously, and its odyssey takes them […]

Christian Bale and Russell Crowe star in James Mangold's fine remake of the classic western

‘3:10 to Yuma’ – a superb western remake on Peacock

3:10 to Yuma (2007) – Delmer Dave’s original 1957 3:10 to Yuma, based on the short story by Elmore Leonard, is a superior western: understated, smart, visually modest and dramatically surprising. James Mangold’s remake is a fine film its own right. It is respectful of the story and the situation and then it goes its […]

Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning ‘Unforgiven’ on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

“I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.” “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western Unforgiven earned the director his first Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Director. In a way, it finally made official what critics and fans had slowly come to realize over the last […]

Gary Cooper, Julie London, and Lee J. Cobb star in the 1958 western directed by Anthony Mann

Gary Cooper is a ‘Man of the West’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

The great western director Anthony Mann and aging western icon Gary Cooper teamed up for the first and only time in Man of the West (1958), a stark frontier drama of a trio of train passengers stranded in the desert after a railway holdup. Taking responsibility for his helpless compatriots (Julia London as a sad-eyed […]

Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden, and Ernest Borgnine star in Sam Peckinpah's western masterpiece 'The Wild Bunch.'

‘The Wild Bunch’ – Sam Peckinpah’s frontier apocalypse on HBO Max

The film that branded Sam Peckinpah with the nickname “Bloody Sam,” The Wild Bunch (1969) blazed onto theater screens in the era of Bonnie and Clyde, when genre conventions were being blasted away and directors pushed the boundaries of what was once considered “acceptable.” Peckinpah, ever the irascible maverick, rode roughshod over every unspoken rule […]

Burl Ives and Robert Ryan star in the western noir by Andre de Toth

‘Day of the Outlaw’ – snowbound western noir on Criterion Channel

Day of the Outlaw (1959), a western set in a snowbound mountain town on the high frontier, is one of the toughest, most tension-filled pictures from Andre de Toth, a studio filmmaker who could be counted on to bring a savage edge to his assignments. The town is already coiled like a spring thanks to […]

John Wayne , Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, Donald Meek, Louise Platt, directed by John Ford

John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’ on HBO Max

Stagecoach (1939) – John Ford’s classic western is a landmark of the genre for so many reasons: mature, classically constructed and superbly directed, it made a star of John Wayne, revitalized the western genre, and introduced Ford to the breathtaking landscape of Monument Valley, which would become the mythic backdrop of his west. It was […]

Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder in the classic Mel Brooks comedy

‘Blazing Saddles’ on HBO Max

When singer Frankie Laine was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air many years ago, he confessed that when he was engaged to record the theme song to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974), he was not told that the film (and the song) was a spoof. He simply thought it was a bad song […]

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in the 1971 western by Robert Altman

Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ on HBO Max

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Robert Altman’s third film since staking out his claim on 1970s cinema with M*A*S*H (1970), turns the western myth into a metaphor for the fantasy of the American Dream colliding with the power of big business. Warren Beatty is John McCabe, a drifting gambler who rides into the mining camp […]