The results for our best Western were more chaotic than our contest to pick the best award for political dissembling; that was the Distinguished Lying Cross as you may recall. So, in my role as ultimate arbiter of taste and culture, I will now take a dally around the pommel, lean back in the saddle, and settle this here argument.
Best Western: Unforgiven
In a league by itself.
Almost Best: The Searchers
Done in by historical inaccuracies, but a masterpiece nonetheless.
Honorable Mention: High Noon
Brought down by silly gunfight, but has best song. Grace Kelly is the best-looking newlywed ever to shoot a bad guy through a pane of glass.
Honorable Mention: Shane
Raised high by the unforgettable Jack Palance, marred by Alan Ladd’s spotless buckskin outfit.
Honorable Mention: The Gunfighter
Great Gregory Peck, and way ahead of its time.
Honorable Mention: Tombstone
What Jack Palance did for Shane, Val Kilmer does for this one. The gunfighting has a fair amount of b.s. in it, but is saved by “You’re a daisy if you do.”
Honorable Mention: Ulzana’s Raid
Bert Lancaster at his best. Great script, and some very disturbing questions raised.
Worst Movie from a Great Book: The Shootist
John Wayne deserved better for his last picture. The book, by Glendon Swarthout, is possibly the best Western novel ever written. Read it, then see the movie, and you’ll see what I mean.
Western that Ruins All Other Westerns: Blazing Saddles
Mel Brooks couldn’t make it today.