Critics often said that the Americans should learn from their Italian counterparts on how to make entertaining Western films.
However, many American Westerns, though long on story and short on entertainment, have survived the test of time.
Here are some American Westerns which will catch your attention, anytime.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Cast: Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Katherine Ross, Strother Martin, Jeff Corey
Director: George Roy Hill
A couple of bank robbers go on the rampage, stealing banks before a posse begins to chase them.
Butch Cassidy (Newman) and Sundance Kid (Redford) decide that the US is getting too dangerous for them and decide to flee to Bolivia along with Butch’s girlfriend. Butch claims Bolivia is a haven for bank robbers but they are shocked by the local condition of the people when they land there.
After a robbery, a boy recognises the mules with which the duo was escaping with. He alerts the police and a final showdown occurs.
Newman and Redford gel well and make the film memorable. The film also has the iconic song Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris
Director: Clint Eastwood
A retired gunfighter and killer is forced to go back back to that role to teach a sheriff a lesson. The sheriff of the little town in Wyoming does not allow guns or criminals in the town.
A young man wants the gunfighter to kill the sheriff and his gang. Reluctantly he agrees and takes help of another old gunfighter to complete the mission.
However, when his friend is killed by the sheriff the gunfighter swears revenge and turns into his old self and ruthlessly kills the villain.
Eastwood returns to the genre which brought him fame. However, he did want to go back to it and said this was his last Western at that time.
How the West Was Won (1961)
Cast: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Caroll Baker, Richard Widmark
Directors: John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall
Four generations of a family is chronicled as they move from New York to the West in this all-star cast epic directed by three top Western directors.
It is narrated by Spencer Tracy. The film has many sections as the family begins their quest. The story is set from 1839 to 1889. The film takes the family through the civil war, the railroad and outlaws among other historical happenings.
A tad long, the film is engrossing as the history of the West unfolds through the characters. It is rated among the best American Western films ever.
True Grit (1969)
Cast: John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Jeff Corey, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper
Director: Henry Hathaway
A young girl Mattie hires an ageing US Marshall Rooster J. Cogburn (John Wayne) to avenge the death of her father by his hired hand. He is helped in this task by a Texas Ranger (Glen Campbell, who also sang the title track).
They set out to find the hired hand who is now working for an outlaw. Mattie also joins them despite protests. Mattie gets captured by the outlaws but Cogburn rescues despite the taunts by the girl.
This film won Wayne his first Oscar. His eye-patch became a trademark and the film was a great hit. It reaffirmed the fact that there was no-one like Wayne when it comes to Westerns.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Cast: John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef
Director: John Ford
A US Senator returns to a frontier town for the funeral of a gunfighter who had saved him from an outlaw called Liberty Valance. The story then goes back 25 years when the Senator, then a budding lawyer, was brutally attacked by Valance and left for dead.
He recovers and starts helping the town, which has been traumatised by Valance. The outlaw taunts the lawyer, who now learns to fire a gun.
Valance is shot dead, but who actually kills him? See this classic Western from the Ford stable for the answer.