When I think of westerns, I picture a cowboy on his horse, looking out toward the horizon as the obligatory tumbleweed blows by. This image seemed to dominate the covers of my father’s large collection of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey paperbacks. My dad wasn’t the only member of the family who appreciated a good Old West story–Saturday and Sunday afternoons would often find my sister and I checking the TV listings for a good western movie, hopefully starring John Wayne or Gene Autry.
My appreciation of Western movies hasn’t diminished with time. The first movie I saw in 2011 was the Coen brothers’ amazing True Grit, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges. Based on the 1968 book by Charles Portis, it tells the story of a tough U.S. Marshal who helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer. My second outing to the cinema was to see the animated western Rango. Starring the voice of Johnny Depp as the titular Rango, a pet chameleon accidentally stranded in the Old West town of Dirt after his terrarium falls from his owner’s car.
Recent years have seen an increasing number of good quality western movie releases. Some of my past favourites include: 3:10 to Yuma; Appaloosa; and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Frost. Starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, based on Ron Hansen’s 1983 novel of the same name, this movie was shot in both Alberta and Winnipeg. I’d be remiss if I didn’t sing the praises of the made-in-Canada Gunless, starring Paul Gross as the Montana Kid, an American gunslinger holed up in the Canadian town of Barclay’s Bush. This summer we’ll be in for a treat with the release of Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. Curious about the concept? Hurry and get your name down for Cowboys and Aliens, the 2006 graphic novel that serves as the inspiration for the film.
Check out WPL’s catalogue for more great western movie listings. Get your boots and cowboy hat, pretend your recliner is a horse, and visit the Old West for a few hours. What more do you need?