Hello everyone, this is Pax, one-third of your co-hosts for Cult Film Club. With the appearance of our Young Guns double feature this month, Shawn and I have further outed ourselves as big Western fans (originally discussed in our first western, Django, back in episode 3). And for both of us, Young Guns is where our love of Westerns mostly began.
Now, there’s lots of things to like about westerns, but for me, my favorite is the larger than life character of the bad ass gunslinger. Very little gets my culty juices flowing like some good gun-slinging action. So, we thought we’d take a moment and talk about some of our favorite movie gunslingers. Not only are we going to run down our favorite list of cinematic gunfighters, but we’re going to have a double feature list, or dueling lists if you will…
There’s lots to choose from so I’m going to go first with my top five or six and then let Shawn list his. And there’s a restriction I’m going to place on myself. An actor can’t show up on the list twice. I’m calling this the “Clint Eastwood Rule”. It keeps the list a little more diverse plus it makes me dig a little deeper and be a bit more creative.
So, without further ado, here is my list of my favorite movie gunfighters in no particular order.
#5 Billy the Kid (Young Guns)
He’s the beginning of my list because in many ways he started my love of the things in this list. Shawn and I talked ad infinitum during the Young Guns podcasts about Emilio and our love of this character so I’ll not do it again here. Listen to the show for more in depth discussion on this guy.
#4 Josey Wales (The Outlaw Josey Wales)
This decision was really hard. I can only take one Clint Eastwood gunfighter. Which version do I want? Man With No Name? Will Munny? Jed Cooper? The Stranger? They are all equally awesome. But, for me, hands down, Josey Wales is my favorite. It’s my favorite Eastwood western, it’s my favorite Eastwood gunfighter.
#3 Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
I should be collectively getting a high five from everyone on the Internet for this entry. Kilmer crushed it in this movie, which was awesome even if you don’t include him in it.
#2 The Sundance Kid (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
Redford is great. And I love him and Newman in this movie. Redford is so cool as the Sundance Kid it’s hard not to love him. I lament that we never got a true sequel. However I also lament that we got a horribly shitty prequel to this movie.
#1 Herod (The Quick and the Dead)
This is a movie I love and that could possibly be done on Cult Film Club at some point. It’s tough to pick a favorite character from this movie. I was inclined to go with a very young Russell Crowe as Cort, but I think the way to go is to pick the unbelievably awesome villain of the movie, Herod. Played with wonderful subtlety by Gene Hackman. Hackman is having a ball chewing through every single set piece of this movie. It’s a joy to watch. You also get great appearances by Leonardo DiCaprio as Kid and Lance Henriken as Ace Hanlon. Chock full of great actors and lots of awesome gun-fighting action. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. So give this a shot if you haven’t already.
I know there’s a lack of “vintage” gunfighter flicks on this list but the newer stuff is really what cranks my gears. Don’t get me wrong I love guys like John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Gary Cooper and Lee Van Cleef. But the above guys are my personal favorites.
Now I’ll hand it over to Shawn to run down his list…
Hey Guys, Shawn here. Though I didn’t really get heavily into Westerns until I was almost in my 30s (well, with the exception of the Young Guns flicks), when I did fall for them, I fell hard. There’s something so pure about westerns that just really speaks to me. So here’s the list of Gunfighters that I’d cull together if I had to take on and army of desperadoes…
#5 Hannie Caulder (Hannie Caulder)
Though I could just as easily have picked Robert Culp, I love the purity of Raquel Welch’s vengeance in this film and how it’s a perfect example of the underdog training film, only for westerns…
#4 Pat Garrett (Young Guns II)
One of the Young Guns flicks was bound to make my list and even though I love the heroes, probably my favorite character from the sequel is William Petersen’s complex portrayal of Pat Garrett…
#3 Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop The Movie)
What the what? A cartoon? Anime? That doesn’t even look like a western? Well, trust me, Cowboy Bebop, though set in the future in space is as much of a western as say Firefly or Bravestarr. And as far as gunslingers go, well Spike is the tops.
#2 Vin Tanner (The Magnificent Seven)
Though the backbone of the film is Yul Brynner’s Chris Adams, the heart is Bronson’s Bernardo, and the soul Coburn’s Britt, the fun is all in Steve McQueen’s portrayal of Vin. Love him in this…
#1 Harmonica (Once Upon a Time in the West)
If you’d of asked me at 15 who one of my top five favorite actors was going to be when I turned 30 I never in a million years would have guessed Charles Bronson. But damn if he hasn’t won me over in the last decade. As I’ve been catching up with his flicks he keeps surprising me, and his turn as Harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West nearly broke my heart is was so good. Talk about the man with no name!
So, what are your top five gunfighters? Let us know in the comments!