The western is one of Hollywood’s oldest and favorite genres. While it’s popularity ebbs and flows from time to time, there have been no shortage of classic westerns from the early days of the studio system to more recently. Tubi TV has hitched its wagon to the genre and is offering some of the best westerns around.
Here’s a list of some of the best westerns on Tubi Tv right now.
Ed Harris has only stepped behind the camera twice as a director thus far in his career, one of which was for Appaloosa, which also served as the first time he helped pen his own screenplay. Harris completed the trifecta by serving as the film’s lead, the principled lawman Virgil Cole, but surrounded himself with a strong cast that included Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons and Renee Zellweger.
The film centers on Cole and his partner Hitch (Mortensen), who are newly appointed sheriffs to the town of Appaloosa that is being ruled by a violent rancher (Irons). Things get complicated when Cole becomes involved with a local widow (Zellweger).
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may be the most famous cinematic adventure of the legendary outlaws, but it is not the only one. Blackthorn stars Sam Sheppard as Butch Cassidy years after the event of the 1969 film, still in Bolivia but without the Sundance Kid.
In his old age and now going by James Blackthorn, Cassidy attempts to go back to the U.S. but becomes involved with a young robber who is being chased for the loot he stole. Will this be Butch Cassidy’s final ride?
Broken Arrow (1950)
James Stewart is best known as the loveable star of heartwarming films like It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Harvey, but his career was filled with a number of westerns that showed the actor’s harder edge. Broken Arrow is such a film.
Stewart stars as Tom Jeffords, who takes up the challenge of trying to broker a peace between the Apache tribe and settlers in Arizona. The film is based on a true story.
While Broken Arrow does have the problem of using primarily white actors in the portrayals of Native Americans (save for Jay Silverheels, who played Geronimo), it has also been noted by scholars as one of the first major westerns post World War II to portray Native Americans with sympathy.
Decision at Sundown (1957)
Have you ever been watching Blazing Saddles and not gotten the joke when Sheriff Bart says “You’d do it for Randolph Scott,” and then a chorus of trumpets play and the villagers take their hats off in respect? Well, you can see the western star referenced by Mel Brooks in his prime with the film Decision at Sundown.
Scott, who perhaps only trailed John Wayne as a western star in his heyday, stars as Bart Allison, who rolls into Sundown to confront the town’s boss for the death of his wife years earlier.
One of the most famous spaghetti westerns not featuring Clint Eastwood, Django starred Franco Nero as the coffin-dragging gunslinger who decides to take on a group of Southern racists as well as Mexican revolutionaries.
Django’s legacy made an impact on Quentin Tarantino, who copied the hero’s name for his own take on the western genre, Django Unchained, bringing along Nero to make a fun cameo. See what it was about the original Django that caught Tarantino’s eye.
The Gunfighter (1950)
Another classic actor not typically associated with the western, Gregory Peck’s foray into the genre resulted in the well regarded film The Gunfighter, which was directed by Henry King and earned an Oscar nomination for its screenplay by William Bowers and André De Toth.
The Gunfighter follows Jimmy Ringo (Peck), who comes looking for the only woman he’s ever loved but she doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Meanwhile, his reputation draws the attention of many as he tries to put his past behind him.
The Homesman (2014)
While there have been some great examples of female-led westerns (Cat Ballou, Annie Get Your Gun and one we’ll touch on in a minute), they still are a minority in the genre. 2014’s The Homesman was a welcome addition to that list though.
Hillary Swank leads The Homesman (directed by Tommy Lee Jones), as a pious, independent woman tasked with driving a group of women who were driven mad by pioneer life on a covered wagon. She enlists the help of a drifter (Jones) to help her across the dangerous territory.
The Homesman was pretty well reviewed, but it is still an underrated entry in Swank’s award-winning filmography.
Meek’s Cutoff (2011)
Another female-driven western tale, Meek's Cutoff hails from indie darling Kelly Reichardt. For anyone who is familiar with Reichardt’s work shouldn’t be surprised that it isn’t a typical western shoot-em up, but rather a contemplative but engaging look at the challenges and dangers that were present for westward travelers.
Michelle Williams (a Reichardt favorite) stars with Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan and Shirley Henderson as members of a group of settlers heading to Oregon in 1845 who become lost amid the harsh conditions.
Meek’s Cutoff was a critics and festival darling when it debuted at the onset of the 2010s.
One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
There’s something about westerns that make big-name actors want to make them one of their first directing jobs. In the case of Brando, it was the first and only time he would step behind the camera.
In One-Eyed Jacks, Brando stars as Rio, an outlaw who attempts to track down his former partner (Karl Malden) after running off with their loot and leaving him to be captured. Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens round out the cast.
Explore Brando’s talents beyond as he leads a movie in a different way with One-Eyed Jacks.
The Proposition (2005)
American’s don’t have a monopoly on the western genre, as Australia has also crafted a number of their own films that swap the American West with the Australian Outback while hitting on just about everything else you could want from the genre. The Proposition is a great example of the more gritty westerns we’ve come to know in recent years.
Guy Pearce stars as a notorious outlaw who is captured by a lawman (Ray Winstone) and given the chance to save his younger brother by bringing to justice his older brother, hiding somewhere in the Outback. Emily Watson, Danny Huston and Noah Taylor also star.
Stagecoach was closer to the time it was depicting than it is to us today, but this classic western is no less exciting because of that fact.
Directed by John Ford and the first major starring vehicle for John Wayne, Stagecoach tells the story of a group of people travelling together on a stagecoach as they are beset by Native Americans, while also having to deal with their own misgivings about each other. It also features one of the most thrilling action sequences ever put to screen.
When someone is making a list of the best westerns ever made, Stagecoach is an absolute must include, if not right at the very top of the list.
Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.
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