Last month we shared a handful of our favorite Westerns. A bunch of you were kind enough to write back with some favorites of your own, which we thought we’d pass along. The bold ones on the left were mentioned the most, so you might want to start with one of those if you plan on kickin’ back and watchin’ a movie sometime.
There’s no better way to get in the mood for a Kay El Bar Guest Ranch vacation than by kickin’ off your boots and watching a western. There are countless great movies to choose from. Here are some of our favorites.
#1 The Searchers
Greatest Western ever made
While “greatest” is a matter of opinion, The Searchers (1956) is Kay El Bar owner Joe Beattie’s top pick, and also scored the #1 spot for the American Film Institute list of Top 10 Western films. The Rotten Tomatoes Critics ranked The Searchers #4 of the 75 best western movies and wrote “If John Ford is the greatest Western director, The Searchers is arguable his greatest film. Shot in Arizona, The Searchers is an epic John Wayne Western that introduces dark ambivalence to the genre that remains fashionable today.”
#2 High Noon
You must have seen this classic with Gary Cooper in his Oscar-winning performance. Ranked #2 on both the American Film Institute Top Western list and the Rotten Tomatoes 75 Best Westerns, High Noon broke many of the traditions of prior westerns as a conflicted U.S. Marshal (Cooper) has one last showdown while his bride, played by Grace Kelly, gives him an ultimatum: She is leaving on the noon train, with or without him.
#3 True Grit
(Original in 1969 with John Wayne in an Oscar-winning performance as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Remade in 2010 starring Jeff Bridges.)
“Feisty 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross hires Cogburn, a boozy, trigger-happy lawman after an outlaw murders her father. The bickering duo are accompanied on their quest by a Texas Ranger. As they embark on a dangerous adventure, each character has his or her grit tested in different ways.” (Wikipedia). Kay El Bar owner Joe Beattie prefers the original (of course) but some of us like the remake even better. Watch both and decide which version you prefer.
#4 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Many consider this Clint Eastwood classic the greatest western ever made. Directed by spaghetti western maestro Sergio Leone, you’ll instantly recognize the memorable musical score.
#5 – Lonesome Dove
(1989) 4-part television miniseries.
Ok, this is not a movie, but Lonesome Dove is a personal choice of Kay El Bar staff. At the time this series was filmed, the western genre was considered dead. However, by the show's end, it had a huge viewership and went on to earn many industry awards. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat. And for you readers, the 1985 book by Larry McMurtry on which the TV series was based won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and is a terrific read.