A Fistful of Westerns

· Wednesday May 14, 2008

The western has always been obsessed with its own impending doom – a wild frontier, succumbing to looming civilisation, leaving with no place for real men. And yet, like Clint Eastwood in High Plains Drifter, the western damn well refuses to die.

The Astor is bringing back classic westerns for the next few Sunday nights, and if you’ve only watched these on the small screen, you should be ashamed of yourself. Sweeping vistas like these demand every inch of your eyes. Amongst others, treat yourself and see:

Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, filled with majestic fatalism and slow-motion violence. John Ford’s The Searchers, which takes the usually black-and-white John Wayne and pushes him into unsettling new dimensions.

And the film that single-handedly spawned dozens of cinematic clichés: Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars, which lets a young (and desperately sexy) Eastwood loose with dialogue like “…my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it.”