Western #11: For a Few Dollars More (1965)

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I think this might be my favorite of the trilogy. Lee Van Cleef is pure awesome as ‘The Man in Black’ , it has the most compelling story, and El Indio is a fantastic villain. It’s funny how The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly gets all of the notoriety, it’s still one of the greatest westerns ever — but it For a Few Dollars More is the only film that comes close to the level of Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s an operatic, awesome, beautiful film and it’s definitely a must see.

Grade: A+

Western #9: A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

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As far as Spaghetti Western remakes of Yojimbo, I think I slightly prefer Sergio Corbucci’s Django over this film. It’s just got that little bit of ridiculousness that pushes it into “oh my god this is awesome” territory. Fistful of Dollars is still pretty great, even though it is the lesser of the trilogy. What’s funny is most of what I knew about this film before I saw it came from Back to the Future III, so I can’t help but think of Marty McFly during certain scenes — or the whole thing. Regardless, it’s still a fun time. Clint Eastwood is badass.

Western #3: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is not just one of my favorite Westerns — I think it’s one of the coolest films ever made. It’s sexy, witty, it has a great score, and it’s just plain fun. George Roy Hill is an underrated filmmaker who made a handful of really good-to-great films starring two of my favorite actors. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the first pairing of Robert Redford and Paul Newman and boy is it lovely to watch…Katherine Ross was a lucky girl.

It’s a film that’s more ’60s than it is Western and it borrows heavily from the French New Wave filmmakers like Truffaut and Godard. With its frivolous montages and anachronistic score I’m sure it grates on the more traditional Western fans, but I just love everything about it. As liberal as it is stylistically, it’s still a damn fine Western.

Grade: A

Western #2: The Comancheros (1961)

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When I think ‘ stereotypical Hollywood Western’ a couple of films come to mind: The Big Country and this 1961 film from Michael Curtiz. John Wayne stars as a Texas Ranger who forms an unlikely team with an outlaw gambler to take on a group of ‘Comancheros’ (white smugglers working with the Comanche Indians). Wayne just does what he does best and swaggers his way through the occasionally silly storyline.

The film is essentially just a cardboard cutout of just about every Western stereotype you can think of; from the grand, sweeping score to the ride off into the sunset at the end. Admittedly it’s a little disappointing that this is from the director of films like The Adventures of Robin Hood and Casablanca, but if you’re a fan of the genre you should still find this a mildly enjoyable ‘Cowboys and Indians’ tale that works mostly thanks to nostalgia.

Grade: C+