The film, which stars William Holden, Robert Ryan, and Ernest Borgnine, is known for being controversial for its time. These days, graphic violence is pretty much expected in certain types of films. But in the late ’60s, it was just starting to emerge.
Sam Peckinpah directed and co-wrote the revisionist movie, which was deemed as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant,” by the U.S National Film Registry in 1999. Now, it’ll be forever preserved in the Library of Congress as such.
The Naked Spur Director (1952, Anthony Mann)
Director Anthony Mann steers away from the typical Western terrain of arid deserts and tumbleweeds and sets up this tale in the foresty mountains of California. Here, Howard Kemp (Jimmy Stewart) plays a gloomy bounty hunter in desperate need of the reward on the head of an outlaw.
We can begin to see the seeds of the dark, brooding personality that cemented his career in Vertigo.
The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
Of all of the Western films that Wayne starred in, this one is known for being one of, if not his absolute best. It’s both influenced and made an appearance in several other films and television shows, including Martin Scorsese’s 1967 film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door, in which two of the characters have a conversation about it.
The film has high ratings on nearly every movie critic website, including Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert, and IMDb. Directed by John Ford, it follows Wayne, playing a Civil War veteran on the hunt for his abducted niece. Of course, he’s actually hunting her, not trying to rescue her, as one may assume.
Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks, 1975)
Since it hit the theaters, the film has become a multi-generational classic. It took the audience by storm, shining a satirical light on social issues like no other film before it. There were countless firsts that resulted from the film, and several of those who were brave enough to partake in its making wound up being nominated for (and some even winning) awards for their efforts.
But putting the finished product together was no easy feat. From casting to getting the studio's approval, writer/director Mel Brooks and his team had a tough time bringing the story to life. In fact, there was one point at which the film was nearly canceled entirely.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)
This 1966 epic spaghetti Western stars Clint Eastwood, who teams up with an outlaw in the Southwest during the Civil War to take out a sinister villain. It has a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is widely regarded as the best of all Spaghetti Western films.
Many more recent films have paid tribute to the classic western. One of them is Quentin Tarantino's 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs when he creates a cinematic nod to the famed standoff scene. Stephen King also said that the film was his inspiration behind his novel, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger.