Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Kerry Washington, and Leonardo DiCaprio star in Quentin Tarantino's western

Jamie Foxx is ‘Django Unchained’ on Netflix

In Django Unchained (2012), Quentin Tarantino takes on one of his favorite genres: the spaghetti western, with all its extreme violence, operatic drama, eccentric characters, and brutal portrait of frontier existence. But Tarantino being Tarantino, he doesn’t just make a big, violent, sprawling western filled gunfights and clever talk and driven by revenge and Old […]

‘Drums Along the Mohawk’ – John Ford’s Colonial America on Criterion Channel

John Ford made his Technicolor debut with Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), a stunning pre-western about young settlers in the rich forest lands of the Mohawk Valley during the Colonial era. Claudette Colbert takes top billing as the cultured wife and Henry Fonda is her salt-of-the-Earth husband who takes her out of the city and […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1964) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in the 1948 western classic by Howard Hawks

‘Red River’ – the great cattle drive epic on Amazon Prime

Howard Hawks reworks Mutiny on the Bounty as a frontier epic in Red River (1948), the sweeping tale of a journey that can’t be made and the story of a son forced to battle the father he loves and adores. Montgomery Clift made his film debut opposite grand old icon John Wayne, playing Matthew Garth, […]

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

Last chance: Warren Beatty and Julie Christie are ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’ on Criterion Channel

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 […]

‘Tears of the Black Tiger’ – Wild Thailand western on Amazon Prime

Tears of the Black Tiger (Thailand, 2000), Wisit Sasanatieng’s madcap new wave western, both a spoof and a celebration of the crazy conventions of movie melodramas and genre cinema from decades back. Imagine the Cisco Kid dropped into a Bollywood version of a Sergio Leone western, as re-imagined by Douglas Sirk with costumes out of […]

Charles Bronson in Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on Hulu

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) puts the opera into “horse opera.” Leave it to the Italians to put genuine operatic dimension into the great American saga of western expansion. Sergio Leone’s loving tribute to the myth of the American West leaves the cool, cruel mercenary world of the Clint Eastwood Dollar films […]

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 Criterion Channel

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 […]

James Garner and Jack Elam star in Burt Kennedy's comedy western

‘Support Your’ James Garner comedy westerns on Amazon Prime

James Garner established himself as a natural for the comic western with the TV series Maverick, playing the reluctant hero who avoided conflict and gunplay with charm, wit, and a con-man’s knack for keeping his opponents off balance. The brought that sensibility to the big screen with Support Your Local Sheriff (1969), playing a drifter […]

Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper in the 1954 western by Robert Aldrich

‘Vera Cruz’ – The proto-spaghetti western on Amazon Prime

“You’re the first friend I ever had,” grins flamboyant mercenary Burt Lancaster to lean, laconic Gary Cooper in with a smile that suggests that he may be the last. They’re a pair of Americans abroad looking to cash in the Mexican revolution by selling their services to the highest bidder in Vera Cruz (1954), Robert […]