25 best Western movies ever
Not your typical Western gunslinger, Rango is the story of the eponymous chameleon’s journey from family pet to accidental hero. Its cast of crazy creatures (voiced by Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Ray Winstone and Bill Nighy, among others) makes for an animated treat that’s a cut above your bog standard sub-Pixar effort. And the visuals – created with the help of Skyfall cinematographer Roger Deakins – conjure up a uniquely skewed take on the look of the Old West.
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)
For the musically-minded, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is notable for its cast, which includes Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan among its leading lights. A feuding director (Sam Peckinpah) and production company (MGM) led to a poor release cut, but catch the 1988 re-release of Peckinpah’s original vision and you’ll see why PGABTK is rightly regarded as a classic of the Western genre.
McCabe & Mrs Miller (1971)
Robert Altman was never going to make a straight-up, old-fashioned Western, and McCabe & Mrs Miller subverts many of the genre conventions: Warren Beatty’s McCabe is not a virtuous, salt-of-the-earth hero but a scheming gambler, while Julie Christie’s Mrs Miller is an opium-addicted prostitute – and one without a heart of gold. America's foremost film critic Roger Ebert considers McCabe & Mrs Miller to be Altman’s best movie.
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Mel Brooks lends his comedic touch to the Western genre in this satirical comedy starring Cleavon Little as the first African-American Sheriff in the West and Gene Wilder as sozzled gunslinger Jim. Breaking the fourth wall in the most blatant way imaginable, the fight scene which spills out into the Warner Brothers lot and across other film sets – culminating just outside the premiere of the film itself – is the highlight of Brooks' masterpiece.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Netting four Academy Awards, this classic western paired up Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the outlaw duo trying to outrun the law before their past catches up with them. An epic musical score and top shelf performances from the two acting greats earns it its well-deserved place in the United States National Film Registry.