I caught the last half-hour of The Magnificent Seven on TV last night, and it got me wondering -- what's the coolest western film of all time?
Part of me is inclined to stop right where I began and award the title to the Magnificent Seven. I mean, Charles Bronson is in the film, and he's probably the fifth coolest actor in it, behind Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Yul Brenner, and Robert Vaughn. Hell, he might even be sixth if you count perennial badass Eli Wallach. John Sturges does a nice job with the direction, and the action scenes are solid, if not mind-blowing. All true. But the plot is a watered-down rehashing of the excellent Kurasawa classic, The Seven Samurai, and the rest of the acting is poor. (Apparently, in the '60s, all Mexicans thought, spoke and acted like Speedy Gonzales.)
All things considered, I'd probably have to go with an Eastwood film, a qualifier that narrows my choice down to merely half of all westerns ever made. Despite the great work he did in the '70s and the brilliant reinvention of the genre he made with Unforgiven, I think I've got to go with an easy answer: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. An incredible trio of actors -- Eastwood, Wallach, and the evil-mustachioed Lee Van Cleef -- in a beautifully-filmed story. The third part of the Sergio Leone trilogy, this flick runs long enough to be a trilogy of its own, with massive set-pieces (the Civil War battle, the P.O.W. camp) and really intimate stand-offs. Plus, Ennio Morricone adds one of the greatest film scores of all time. (Suck it, John Williams!) So, yeah, that's my choice.
What about the rest of you? What's your favorite western?