Talk about the West and the first thing that comes to mind is the cowboy – a man who strikes a heroic pose with his distinctive hat, boots, gloves, jeans, and bandana while riding an equally imposing horse. The cowboy has become a permanent fixture of American lore and even Hollywood.
Cowboy boots for men, in particular, have become as iconic as the icons who have worn them, from James Dean in Giant and Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Woody in the Toy Story franchise.
Today, these shoes are making a comeback in the world of fashion, started by streetwear brand Hood by Air in 2017, and followed in earnest by Raf Simons at Calvin Klein and Phoebe Philo at Céline.
Thanks to Western movies, cowboy boots and the rest of that distinctive Western lifestyle have been perpetuated, with the footwear even becoming an unofficial emblem of the country, standing for American pride.
To celebrate the return of the cowboy boots on the catwalk and most likely to many American feet whose owners have never tended cattle on ranches, much less wrangled or rode a horse, here are some of the best Western movies that are worth a re-watch.
Stars: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly
Cooper is town marshal Will Kane who plans to retire peacefully with his wife (Kelly). But first, he must face a former gunslinger who is out for revenge. And so, the duel at high noon happens.
3:10 To Yuma
Stars: Glenn Ford, Van Heflin
Based on the short story by noted Western writer Elmore Leonard, it narrates how poor rancher Dan Evans (Heflin) tries to transport the outlaw Ben Wade (Ford) to Contention City to catch the 3:10 train to court for a fee. Wade’s gang makes the trip dangerous.
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman
William Munny (Eastwood) is asked to go back to a life of violence for a hit job on a cowboy who slashed a prostitute’s face. Out to thwart him at every opportunity is Sheriff Daggett (Hackman).
No Country for Old Men
Stars: Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
Not exactly a Western, but just as gritty, with Bardem’s Anton Chigurh tracking down Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) to recover 2 million dollars from a desert deal gone wrong. Sheriff Bell (Jones) tries to help him but realizes he’s too old for that.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach
Famous for its iconic theme song, the movie is another Eastwood classic about three cowboys during the Civil War who are searching for Confederate gold, with each one trying to double-cross the other two.
These movies, along with other Western classics, are available on discs and digital copies, and they are simply a joy to watch over and over.