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 […]

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

Last chance: ‘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 […]

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 […]

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

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 […]

John Wayne is ‘Hondo’ in the classic Louis L’Amour western

The leathery frontier drama Hondo (1953) stars John Wayne as a Cavalry scout who comes across a lonely homestead where a toughened settler (Geraldine Page) and her son await the return of her brutish husband (Leo Gordon), refusing to leave even as tensions between the Apache nation and the Cavalry heat up into war. Wayne […]

Jackie Chan goes west in ‘Shanghai Noon’ on Amazon Prime

Jackie Chan became an international action star without the help of Hollywood when he brought blockbuster movie values to his brand of martial arts action and comedy in a series of Hong Kong hit action spectacles in the 1980s and 1990s. By the time Hollywood made a second attempt to launch him in American movies, […]

Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning ‘Unforgiven’ on HBO Max

“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 […]

Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster star in the modern outlaw western from director David Mackenzie

‘Hell or High Water’ – Outlaws of the new west on Hulu

Hell or High Water (2016) is as good an American drama as you’ll see this year. Jeff Bridges stars as a Texas Ranger on the trail of a pair of bank robbers and his playfully crusty performance as a laconic frontier lawman on the verge of retirement gives an easy, laid back quality to a […]

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

‘Day of the Outlaw’ – snowbound western noir on Amazon Prime

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 […]