Damsel A low-key, eccentric approach to the western genre, about a damsel, not in distress
Damsel is set in the West, anno 1870, and can therefore be called a western, but there are no gunslingers and no shootouts in dusty town streets; there's a damsel, but she's not in distress, and there's even an Indian - sorry: a Native American - but he's different from any other red man you may have met in cinema thus far.
Like a few other 'different'western movies in recent memory (The Homesman, Meek's Cutoff, The Sisters Brothers), Damsel is a movie about a journey. It is undertaken by a young man called Samuel Alabaster (wonderfully played by Robert Pattinson), who ventures West in the company of a mini-horse called Butterscotch and a parson. The horse is a wedding gift for a young girl who's supposed to be waiting for him out there at the frontier, and he picked up the parson in a frontier town because he needs a man of the cloth to officiate the marriage.
The …


Along with Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider, Lawrence Kasdan’s Silverado was supposed to breathe new life into the western genre in the mid-eighties. It failed to do so. Reviews were positive, the film was even nominated for two (minor) Academy Awards, but moviegoers where underwhelmed. It did a lot better when released on videocasette and was one of those movies that drew Hollywood's attention to the new market.

The film’s story is classic western stuff: A cowboy named Emmett saves a man called Paden, who was left behind in the desert by bandits who had stolen all his possessions, including his horse and (worst of all) his hat. Emmett and Paden head for the town of Silverado, were Emmett was born. En route they pick up Emmett’s younger brother Jake, a womanizer and gunslinger, who invariably gets into trouble by courting the ladies and shooting their lovers (in self-defense, of course). They are joined by a fourth man, Mal, a former slave turned farmer, who is looking for the murderers…

Texas Across the River (1966)

When relatively unknown American actors went to Europe in the mid-Sixties to appear in cheaply made spaghetti westerns (and in some cases became superstars), major European actors took the plane in the opposite direction to appear in lush Hollywood productions. With his appearance in Texas Across the River (1966), French superstar Alain Delon tried to establish his name across the ocean; for the occasion he was cast as a Latin Lover and paired with that other Latin Lover - the one from Hollywood - Dean Martin.
Delon is a Spanish nobleman, Don Andrea Baldazar, El Duce de la Casala, who is about to marry a Southern Belle, Phoebe (Rosemary Forsyth). It turns out that she was promised to another man, a cavalrist from the US army who takes his entire regiment to the wedding to claim his bride. When his rival is accidently killed during an incident, Don Andrea is unjustifiably accused of murder and must therefore flee across the border to Texas (not yet an U.S. state). He is joined by a gun…

More Dead than Alive

More Dead than Alive (1969, Robert Sparr) 
The title and the poster of the movie may give you the impression that this is a spaghetti western, but no, More Dead than Alive is an American movie. It stars Clint Walker as a former gunslinger - known as 'Killer Cain' - who has spent 18 years in jail and discovers that it's hard to leave his past behind. 

The film opens with protracted (and remarkably bloody) sequence of a jailbreak that ends in carnage. Cain refuses to help the jail breakers because he wants to serve his sentence and start a new life, but when he is finally released from jail, the world he once knew has become a recent memory and he himself a living anachronism. The only person willing to offer him a job, is a showman named Ruffalo, who asks Cain to perform as a sharpshooter in a traveling sideshow. Also working for Ruffalo is a young man named Billy Valance, who soon starts challenging Cain to a duel, in order to prove himself as a gunslinger ...
The name Bill…

The Undefeated

A routine western with patriotic overtones that is presented as a homage to John Ford. It was overshadowed by the immensely successful True Grit, released earlier the same year. The story is set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and the script is sprinkled with human-interest stories and colorful peripheral characters, most of them played by familiar western actors such as Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr., Dub Taylor and others. And of course it stars the Duke, for the occasion paired with Rock Hudson.
The film opens with a remarkably violent and bloody charge, led by Yankee Colonel John Henry Thomas (John Wayne) against a confederate regiment. Overlooking the tragic results of the carnage, the news is brought to the Colonel that the war is over, that the surrender terms were actually signed three days earlier. Thomas is the type of man who will always do his duty, but who also abhors violenceand therefore cannot understand why anybody would keep on fighting when the war is over.…

The Duel at Silver Creek (1952)

The Duel at Silver Creek
This was Don Siegel's first foray into the western genre. The script combines two archetypes of western stories: the town under terror type and the revenge western. Both stories have their own protagonist, an undaunted sheriff and a young man seeking the murderers of his father.
The father of a young man, Luke Cromwell (Murphy) is killed by claim jumpers, bandits stealing the claims of small time minors. Luke becomes a gambler and a gunslinger but the local sheriff appoints him as his deputy: he's in need of a quick drawing assistant after he has been hit by a bullet and is no longer able to squeeze the trigger. The two fall out when Luke discovers that the sheriff's sweetheart is in league with the claim jumpers and the older man won't believe him. Luke wants to leave town but is then told that the sheriff is about to face a young man called Johnny Sombrero in a duel ...
Most characters are referred to by funny names like The Silver Kid, Lightni…


Jory is a coming-of-age western, telling a story about the initiation of a teenager into the realities of frontier life. It's a bit similar to Dick Richards' The Culpepper Cattle Company, released around the same time. Jory (Robby Benson) is a 15-year old boy who is orphaned after his alcoholic father is killed in a barroom incident. He joins a cattle drive and befriends the trail boss (John Marley), a philosophical old timer who takes the kid under his wing. But Jory is not only instructed in the cowboy trade, but also taught how to draw a gun quickly by a likable cowhand, a young man named Jocko, who actually holds himself for a formidable gunslinger, but has never shot a man in a duel ...

Jory is an interesting, but very uneven movie. The first half is rather strong, the second half messed up with clich├ęs. The strong first half is helped enormously by the presence of the popular country singer B.J. Thomas* as the would-be gunslinger Jocko. It is suggested that Jocko, like J…