Is Tarantino’s New ‘Bounty Law’ Series the Start of the Return of Westerns? (Here’s Hoping)
Quentin Tarantino plans on writing and directing five episodes of Bounty Law. That TV show is, of course, inspired by Once Upon a Time in Hollywood where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Rick Dalton, played an Old West bounty hunter on Bounty Law in the ’50s. The fictional series was inspired by Western television of the late ’50s and early ’60s such as Wanted Dead or Alive, Tales of Wells Fargo, and The Rifleman. In an interview with Deadline, Tarantino opened up about his desire to move forward with a Bounty Law TV show and emphasized the fact that it may take a while. There is no word on whether or not DiCaprio will reprise his role as Jack Cahill (probably not). Still, it’s exciting to know we may be getting more Tarantino before his 10th and final film. Maybe his Western revival will mainstream gunslingers again (a fan can hope). As we wait for the Bounty Law to grace our screens, here is a ranked list of our favorite Western films.
Cover Photo: Columbia Pictures
8. 'The Magnificent Seven' (1960)
No, not that so-so remake featuring Chris Pratt’s affinity for magic tricks. John Sturges' original is a cowboy-centric take on The Seven Samurai. Starring the golden age legend Steve McQueen, as well as Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Brad Dexter, Robert Vaughn, and Horst Buchholz, The Magnificent Seven is a rousing adventure of about a group of seven gunslingers who take on the bandit Calvera—the menace of a Mexican village.
7. 'High Noon' (1952)
Gary Cooper, with his nuanced dignity and self-righteousness, has become a thing of legend. In what is arguably his best role, Cooper plays Marshall Will Kane in Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon. On the verge of giving up his life as a lawman (at the insistence of his wife played by Grace Kelly), Kane hears of the release of a dangerous criminal he put away. That criminal, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) wants revenge against Cooper’s Kane and when his deputies and the townsfolk prove to be less than helpful, Kane must face his nemesis alone. With a showdown worthy of its infamous title and an unconventional female character (for the time), High Noon is a paradigm Western.
6. 'The Searchers' (1959)
In the best cowboy performance even city slickers know, John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards in John Ford’s The Searchers. Edwards is out for revenge, in search of the Comanches, who killed members of his brother’s family and abducted the rest. So, the antihero sets out to save those who are still alive and kill the Comanches. We say "antihero" because Edwards isn’t necessarily an admirable man; he's racist, angry, and conflicted. The Searchers is a surprisingly ambiguous take on morality in the Old West.
5. 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' (1969)
There’s a reason Sam and Dean Winchester keep mentioning John Ford's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Supernatural’s final season: everyone loves to go out with a bang. If you don’t know how this movie ends, we apologize, but it’s still an enjoyable, well-written, irresistibly cool Western amplified by the ageless chemistry of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It's an Old West buddy outlaw film.
4. 'The Wild Bunch' (1969)
Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch is one of the most violent Westerns of its time. The Wild Bunch follows an aging outlaw (William Holden) and his gang who attempt one last robbery; when that final score goes south, they retreat to Mexican territory and are pursued by the gunfighter who set them up. It’s bloody and jarring in the same way Bonnie and Clyde was back in the day.
3. 'Once Upon a Time in the West' (1968)
Tarantino meant for his newest film’s title to resemble this spaghetti Western. One of the most ambitious Westerns of its time, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West is a love letter to all Westerns that takes an astute look at the modernization of the West. It all revolves around this one piece of land that a rail baron (Gabriele Ferzetti) wants, so he sends his henchmen to intimidate, led by the late, great Henry Fonda. Enter mysterious gunslinger to balance the odds. It’s as smart and as badass as something written by Louis L’Amour.
2. 'Unforgiven' (1992)
Unforgiven may not exist in the annals of old Hollywood like the rest of these movies, but it must always be mentioned when discusses Westerns. Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven is like a therapy session for all of the gunslingers he’s played over the years. The antihero he plays, William Munny, is himself a former bandit trying to live a simpler life. For the majority of the film, you can’t quite place his nature until, in the end, you see his startling character and, oh, is it glorious. Unforgiven’s plot, about a couple of vigilantes trying to avenge the disfigurement of a prostitute, is elevated by all of its performances. With supporting characters played by Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, you can’t lose.
1. 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' (1966)
Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy made spaghetti Westerns credible (in the eyes of mainstream Hollywood) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the massive cherry atop that sundae of badassery. This film makes you wonder why DiCaprio's character in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was bitching about having to go do spaghetti Westerns. Spaghetti Westerns made Clint Eastwood. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, about three gunslingers (one good, one bad, and one ugly) who are on the hunt for a cache of buried gold, is one of the most stylish Westerns ever made with a soundtrack you’ll hear every time you’re about to get into a bar fight.