Western film

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One of the classic American film genres. The genre was born in literature with "The Virginian", and a was a distinct literary genre before the rise of motion pictures.

But a genre in which description and dialogue are lean, and the landscape spectacular is clearly better suited to a visual medium. Western movies, usually filmed on location in desolate corners of Arizona, Utah, Wyoming or Colorado, made the landscape not just a vivid backdrop but essentially a character in the movie.

In film, the western traces its roots back to "The Great Train Robbery" directed by Edwin S. Porter. In the United States, the western has had an extremely rich history that spans many genres (comedy, drama, tragedy, parody, musical, etc.)

During the 1960s and 1970s, there was a considerable revival with the "Spaghetti Westerns" or "Italo-Westerns", most notably those directed by Sergio Leone. These tended to be fairly low-budget affairs, shot in locations principally chosen for the cheapness of shooting film, and are characterised by high-action and violent content. Clint Eastwood became famous starring in these films, although they were also to provide a showcase for other such considerable talents as Lee van Cleef, James Coburn, and Klaus Kinski.

The western genre has been parodied on a number of occasions, famous examples being Support Your Local Sherriff, and Mel Brooks' classic Blazing Saddles, perhaps the final word on the subject.

Famous Westerns:

Stage Coach
Red River
High Noon
Destry Rides Again
Annie Get Your Gun
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Once Upon a Time in the West
Heaven's Gate

Famous Directors:

John Ford
Howard Hawks
Sergio Leone

Famous Western Actors:

John Wayne
Clint Eastwood
Lee van Cleef
James Coburn