A favourite genre in the 1950s and 60s, westerns have been making a comeback in recent years. But all these new westerns just make many of us nostalgic for the classics. Luckily, on Netflix you can see both new modern westerns and the classics that inspired them.

Start with Clint Eastwood in his first starring role, and an early feminist western from the 1950s, and then indulge in an over-the-top violent Quentin Tarantino western and a graphic novel based western sci-fi. Cap it all off with a documentary mini-series that explores what life was really like in the west. There is a western for everyone.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

IMDB Score 7.3/10

This anthology film written and directed by the Cohen Brothers features six western themed vignettes that take place on the American frontier. They feature some pretty bug names including Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson and James Franco. A combination of dark drama and black humour, the stand along stories tie together in a satisfying way.

Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

IMDB Score 6/10

For something a little bit different check out this science fiction western directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, we meet an amnesiac outlaw, a wealthy cattleman and a mysterious traveller who are thrown together to save local townspeople who are abducted by aliens. Better than it sounds!

The Duel (2016)

IMDB Score 5.8/10

Directed Kieran Darcy-Smith and written by Matt Cook, it stars Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth. A Texas Ranger is sent to an isolated town to investigate a series of murders and disappearances of Mexican citizens. When he arrives there, he discovers that the town preacher, who also killed his father in a famous duel, is reigning over the town with fear and violence.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

IMDB Score 8/10

A classic Clint Eastwood Spaghetti western, in this outing he plays a stranger that arrives in the town of San Miguel and decides to play two warring families off against each other for his own benefit. This is Eastwood’s first starring role, and the first in what is known as the Dollars Trilogy. It has been compared to the James Bond of the west, except that our protagonist has no name.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

IMDB Score 8.9/10

The third in the Eastwood Dollars Trilogy, it revolved around three gun slingers competing to find a buried cache of Confederate gold during the chaos of the American Civil War. This film is best known for its elaborate and over the top violence, for the time. Though of course it has nothing on a Tarantino film (check out The Hateful Eight below).

Hang ‘em High (1968)

IMDB Score 7/10

Another Clint Eastwood western, he stars as Jed Cooper, an innocent man that survives a lynching and the gets himself hired as a U.S. Marshall in order to seek his revenge against the gang that lynched him. This is the first film produced by Clintwood’s Malpaso Company. Clintwood learnt from his experience on Spaghetti westerns when making this James Bond in the west, and its opening revenue managed to exceed that of all James Bond films at the time.

The Hateful Eight (2015)

IMDB Score 7.8/10

A Quentin Tarantino western, you know it is going to be dark and violent. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, it features eight strangers that seek refuge in the same cabin during a blizzard shortly after the American Civil War. If you like Tarantino films, this is one of his best, with masterfully executed twists, captivating dialogue, entertaining narrative, and just lots of gore.

Hickok (2017)

IMBD Score 4.7/10

The second Luke Hemsworth western in this list, he stars as ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok, the famous lawman and gunslinger tasked with taming one of the wildest towns in the west. This film is a well-made throwback, so while you won’t find anything new here, if you like westerns, it is enjoyable.

In a Valley of Violence (2016)

IMDB Score 6/10

Written and directed by Ti West, it stars Ethan Hawke and John Travolta as gunslingers on opposite sides. As often happens, Hawke’s stranger finds himself in a town being terrorized by hard men and finds himself in the middle of a battle to free their town from their grip. Better executed than most.

Johnny Guitar (1954)

IMDB Score 7.7/10

A classic western in which women take centre stage. Joan Crawford stars as saloon owner Vienna who finds herself in a fight against the locals due to her support of the railroad coming through, and of some questionable characters in the community. This classic film is very modern in terms of the ambiguities and subtexts that it dared to broach in the 50s.

The Killer (2017)

IMDB Score 6/10

This Brazilian western stars Diogo Morgado as the historical figure Shaggy (Cabeleira), a feared killer in the early 20th century. Raised by a local bandit names Seven Ears who found him when he was abandoned as a baby, he grows up in the wilderness, isolated from civilisation. As an adult he ventures into society to look for Seven Ears, who has disappeared, and finds a town being terrorized by a French strongman, which he must save.

Posse (1993)

IMDB Score 5.5/10

This film tells a revisionist history of a posse of African-American soldiers, and one ostracised white soldier, who find themselves outlaws when they are betrayed by a corrupt colonel. They must both escape the powers out to bring them to justice, and find their own revenge. Starring Mario Can Peebles, it may be a little overdone and relentless, but it tells its story.

The Ridiculous 6 (2015)

IMDB Score 4.8/10

Looking for something a little less serious, this Adam Sandler film takes a tongue in cheek look at the gang western. The group are unexpectedly thrown together but realise that they share the same bank robbing rather (played by Nick Nolte), and they set out to find him. If you like Adam Sandler films, this will be an enjoyable watch.

Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story (2015)

IMDB Score 4.4/10

Starring Trace Adkins, Kim Coates and Judd Nelson, it is based on the life story of the Outlaw Nathaniel Reed who was hunted by a vengeful U.S. Marshall. Reed starts the film as a reformed criminal trying to go straight, but when the actions of the Marshall lead to tragedy, he must return to his former ways to seek revenge and redemption.

The West (1996)

IMDB Score 8.5/10

After watching all these films, you may be wondering if they really represent what the west was like. Watch this documentary mini series from Ken Burns about the real American west to find out. It is detailed and accurate, while managing to be entertaining and enjoyable.

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