Western

Andrew V. McLaglen – Chisum (1970)

Synopsis:
John Wayne toplines this biography of the cattle owner John Simpson Chisum, a controversial figure who was the most powerful man in New Mexico during the Wild West era. A founder and prominent citizen in the town of Lincoln, Chisum is slow to act when ruthless land baron Lawrence Murphy (Forrest Tucker) moves in on several local businesses and takes them over. By the time Chisum and his ally, fellow rancher Henry Tunstall (Patrick Knowles), decide to go to the law, Murphy’s already bought and paid for influence there, as well. The only recourse left to the cattlemen is to take Murphy on in all-out range war that embroils everyone in the county, including Tunstall’s hand Billy the Kid Bonney (Geoffrey Deuel) and his comrade Pat Garrett (Glenn Corbett). Screenwriter and producer Andrew J. Fenady based the script for Chisum (1970) on his own short story, a very loosely fact-based account of Chisum, Billy the Kid and their involvement in the Lincoln County wars. Read More »

André De Toth – Day of the Outlaw (1959)

Eastman Museum writes:
According to Quentin Tarantino, his eighth and latest film not only pays homage to that peculiar brand of the western set not in dust but in snow, but also an even more peculiar genre of the so-called parlor room mystery. André De Toth’s criminally underrated Day of the Outlaw happened to mine a similar territory in 1959: Set in an isolated, snow-covered town in the far West, the story has a renegade army officer named Jack Bruhn (Burl Ives) and his henchmen riding into the town threatening their worst to the men and women there. Blaise Starrett (Robert Ryan) decides to agree to Bruhn’s demands for someone knowledgeable to lead them away from the law and the town, to safety. Mortally wounded himself, Bruhn opts to take Starrett up on his offer in one last act of generosity toward the townspeople, sparing them the mayhem threatened by his men. Read More »

Ted Kotcheff – Billy Two Hats (1974)

Synopsis:
When someone gets killed during a bank robbery by Deans, half-breed Billy Two Hats and their partner, the robbers flee. Sheriff Gifford tracks the robbers, killing one of them and capturing Billy. Deans escapes, but during a successful plot to free Billy from the Sheriff, Deans is shot, leaving him unable to walk or ride a horse. Billy, not wanting to abandon his friend, builds an Indian cot to drag Deans behind the horse. With the Sheriff hot on their trail, Deans and Billy try to stay one step ahead of the many obstacles which threaten their lives and freedom Read More »

Martin Ritt – The Outrage (1964)

Brooklyn Academy of Music writes:
Kurosawa’s Rashomon is transposed to the American Wild West as four participants in a rape and murder—including a Mexican bandit (Newman), the dead man (Harvey), and his wife (Bloom)—give differing accounts of what occurred. Featuring a dynamite supporting cast that includes Edward G. Robinson and William Shatner, The Outrage is lent a haunted, nightmarish atmosphere thanks to James Wong Howe’s psychologically charged camerawork. Read More »

Richard Brooks – The Professionals (1966)

Synopsis:
Four soldiers of fortune are hired by a wealthy rancher to rescue his beautiful young wife who has been kidnapped by a villainous Mexican bandit. When they finally find her, after fighting their way across deserts and mountains, they discover she is not being held against her will. This causes friction within the band as to whether they should honor their agreement. Read More »

Duccio Tessari – Una pistola per Ringo AKA A Pistol for Ringo (1965)

Synopsis:
An ‘angel-faced’ gunfighter is tasked with infiltrating a ranch overrun by Mexican bandits and saving their hostages, including the fiancée of the local sheriff. Read More »

Sam Peckinpah – Major Dundee [Extended Version] (1965)

Synopsis:
Sitting out the war as the jailer of a Union prison stockade in Eastern New Mexico, Amos Charles Dundee (Charlton Heston) seizes upon a local Apache massacre to ignore his assignment and launch a search-and-destroy mission into Mexico. Having already lost many troopers to the the Indian chief Sierra Charriba (Michael Pate), Dundee is forced to augment his command with local thieves and drunks, promote his black cavalrymen to active status and make a deal with the leader of his Confederate prisoners, the cavalier Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris). It’s an all-or-nothing gambit; Dundee will either find his Apache quarry and come home a national hero, or return empty-handed and face the wrath of military superiors who already see him as an untrustworthy glory hound. Either way, he’d be wise to avoid the thousands of French troops that are also in Northern Mexico, harshly suppressing the revolution of Benito Juarez. Read More »