Saturday, May 17, 2008

Countdown to AFI's 10 Top 10: Western

"The Old West is not a certain place in a certain time;
it's a state of mind."
-- Tom Mix

We are halfway through our countdown to the American Film Institute's salute to their 10 Top 10, which brings us to that purely American creation (that is, until Sergio Leone got hold of it): the western. A genre filled with iconic imagery, from the lone cowboy perched atop his horse to the climatic gunfight in the middle of a dusty town, a classic oater depicts "the spirit, the struggle and the demise of the new frontier".

Topping the list of westerns previously honored by the AFI in their annual lists is High Noon. The thinly veiled allegorical look at Hollywood's reaction to McCarthyism has been included on six prior lists, followed closely (with five mentions each) by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Shane. However, a strong contender for the top spot here is The Searchers, which may only have two previous listings, but it made an impressive leap from #96 to #12 on last year's 10th anniversary revisit to the top 100 movies.

The Wild Bunch, which redefined onscreen violence as well as the western genre itself, placed three times previously, and should place high this time around as well. Other possibilities from past lists include Best Picture Oscar winners Dances With Wolves and Unforgiven (both with two listings) and single-placers ranging from comedies (Blazing Saddles, Cat Ballou) to John Wayne headliners (Stagecoach, True Grit) to some questionable "westerns" (Giant, The Last Picture Show), plus The Magnificent Seven, a remake of a Far Eastern "western", The Seven Samurai.

Ranging from 1924 (The Iron Horse) to 1996 (Lone Star), other contenders among the fifty nominees (see the comments section below for the full list) include more John Ford epics (My Darling Clementine, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), Clint Eastwood non-spaghetti westerns (High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales) and other favorites such as How the West Was Won, The Ox-Bow Incident, Red River and even Joan Crawford's lone contribution to the genre, Johnny Guitar.

The final top ten will be revealed in a CBS three-hour television event on June 17.

3 comments:

  1. BEND OF THE RIVER 1952
    THE BIG COUNTRY 1958
    BLAZING SADDLES 1974
    BROKEN ARROW 1950
    BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969
    CAT BALLOU 1965
    CHEYENNE AUTUMN 1964
    DANCES WITH WOLVES 1990
    DESTRY RIDES AGAIN 1939
    DUEL IN THE SUN 1946
    FORT APACHE 1948
    GIANT 1956
    THE GUNFIGHTER 1950
    HIGH NOON 1952
    HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER 1973
    HOW THE WEST WAS WON 1962
    THE IRON HORSE 1924
    JEREMIAH JOHNSON 1972
    JOHNNY GUITAR 1954
    THE LAST PICTURE SHOW 1971
    LITTLE BIG MAN 1970
    LONELY ARE THE BRAVE 1962
    LONE STAR 1996
    THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN 1960
    MAJOR DUNDEE 1965
    THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE 1962
    McCABE AND MRS. MILLER 1971
    MY DARLING CLEMENTINE 1946
    THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES 1976
    THE OX-BOW INCIDENT 1943
    PALE RIDER 1985
    THE PLAINSMAN 1936
    RED RIVER 1948
    RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY 1962
    RIO BRAVO 1959
    RIO GRANDE 1950
    THE SEARCHERS 1956
    SHANE 1953
    SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON 1948
    THE SHOOTIST 1976
    SILVERADO 1985
    STAGECOACH 1939
    THE TALL T 1957
    TRUE GRIT 1969
    TUMBLEWEEDS 1925
    UNFORGIVEN 1992
    UNION PACIFIC 1939
    THE WESTERNER 1940
    THE WILD BUNCH 1969
    WILL PENNY 1968

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm really pulling for Unforgiven and The Wild Bunch. I hope The Searchers doesn't place too high, as it doesn't do much for me.

    I have a soft spot for High Plains Drifter, but it's ostensibly just a glorified Twilight Zone episode, so I doubt that will make the list.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Searchers is the greatest western ever made and it will place number 1.

    High Noon, Shane, Stagecoach, Unforgiven, The Wild Bunch, Red River, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Rio Bravo and My Darling Clementine deserve to make it.

    ReplyDelete

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