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Go back to revisit classic Westerns

7:04 PM, Jul. 12, 2013  |  Comments
Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven''
Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven''
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Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer have tried - without much success - to ride to the rescue of a genre that was once a staple of American cinema but has since fallen on hard times: the Western.

Jeffrey Richardson of the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles shares his top five Western films:

"Unforgiven" (1992): This film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, follows retired gunslinger William Munny (Eastwood) as he takes one last job after a prostitute is disfigured by cowboys. A darker Western, "it really shows the moral and social complexity of the Western genre.''


"High Noon" (1952):
"It's the most screened movie by the White House," says Richardson. It doesn't conform to the typical action-packed Western scenario. "Really, it is quite slow and very methodical. The build-up and pacing to the climactic action is confined to the ending minutes."


"The Wild Bunch" (1969):
The most violent of the group, this Sam Peckinpah film traces a pack of outlaws on the Texas border who look for one last robbery, as the West is becoming more gentrified all around them. "It showed the excitement of the West, but in somewhat of a more unrelenting style that really showed the consequences of violence."


"The Searchers" (1956):
"I would probably lose my job if I didn't mention at least one John Wayne-John Ford collaboration. Probably no other actor has starred in more Westerns than Wayne, who was known for his rugged, masculine look that made him the perfect cowboy.


"Blazing Saddles" (1974):
This satire stars Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder and is directed by Mel Brooks, who also appears in multiple supporting roles. "It has that heart of absurdity that really skewers the genre in ways that are fun and informative."

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