The Magnificent Seven (1960)

“You’re like the wind, blowing over the land and passing on…”

Death hangs heavy over this classic Old West tale, which replaces samurai with gunslingers and knife-throwers.

The men who ride into immortality protecting farmers from bandits are rough, violent dudes of few words — warriors redeemed by one act of courage and sacrifice.

All seven of the “good guys,” from Steve McQueen down to Brad Dexter, have died in real life in the years since director John Sturges had them saddle up.

But, like the characters they played, they live on forever in the movie theaters of our minds.

 

Hang ’em High

It’s not the kind of job you leave half-finished.

But the dumb cowpokes who string up Clint Eastwood fail to dot their I’s and cross their T’s — or at least properly tighten the rope — and come to regret it.

Mistakenly marked as a cattle rustler, he returns the favor, all guns blazing, in this American answer to the success of spaghetti westerns.

Eastwood’s dead man walking snaps on a badge, but, even as a card-carrying member of the law, is prone to delivering frontier-style justice in the form of a swiftly-propelled bullet or two.

Would we expect any less?

 

Bone Tomahawk

Cannibals? Why did it have to be cannibals?

Kurt Russell, rockin’ ferocious facial hair, is a small-town sheriff just minding his business, until he can’t, in this twisted tale of life and death in the Old West.

Traveling out to the charmingly-named “Valley of the Starving Men,” the local law enforcement comes smashed-in face to smashed-in face with a pack of less-than-friendly locals.

Surviving by eating the tastiest of cuts from anyone who crosses their land, our fine young cannibals are a fearsome force.

Too bad Russell is resolutely old-school, and ready to jam a shotgun up their neither regions.

Unforgiven

A duster, a squint, and you sold me.

I vividly remember an early teaser trailer in 1992 for this very-deserving Oscar winner, a coming attraction special which began with our granite-hewed hero standing with his back to the camera.

Then he turned and shot us the kind of glare he specializes in, one which turns knees to jelly and sets off fireworks in the brain.

“Clint Eastwood is … Unforgiven.”

Bam. That’s all it took to sell a nation on the Western swan song of a sagebrush legend.

The film was dang near flawless, and the advertising was spot-on.

Poetry, really.

The Gunfighter

“The stage was set for an awesome ballet of death.”

A gunfighter enters a bar in search of a drink, and things do not go as expected, as an unseen narrator starts messing with everyone in this lightning-fast Old West spoof.

Dropping truth bombs, both dangerous and raunchy, the voice from the heavens pokes and prods, taking great, deadpan delight in setting up the aforementioned shoot-out.

From Sally, the itchy whore, to the guy who’s been messing with his neighbor’s livestock, and not in the conventional sense, everyone has a secret.

Slap those irons and tickle my ribs.