The Western was unquestionably one of the most popular genres of the 1920s, '30s and '40s spawning a number of screen idols including Gary Cooper and John Wayne who like John Ford and a few other directors owed their fame to this genre. The Western is unique in that nearly all the elements that constitute other genres such as action, romance, comedy and suspence comfortably co-exist within it. Traditional Western subjects are good and evil, law and order, racism and heroes who have been turned into outlaws by an unlucky twist of fate. Similar subjects are dealt with in contemporary films such as The Fugitive (1992) and Speed (1993) except in these instances the protagonists ride in cars and buses rather than on horses and in stagecoaches.
Although the popularity of the Western waned between the late 1940s and to the current day, some of the most impressive films of this genre were made during this period. The Searchers (1956), The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1967), The Wild Bunch (1969) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) to name but a few.
Cimarron (1931) was the only film to win an oscar for 'Best Film' in this category until 1993 when Unforgiven received a similar Academy Award. This recent film and its hero Clint Eastwood rejuvenated interest in the western and it is Eastwood who has almost single-handedly kept this genre alive today.
Classic Westerns Of The 1950s And 1960s
Nine British Quads comprising The Left Handed Gun, 1958, Warner Bros., (A-); 3.10 To Yuma, 1957, Columbia, (A-); The Horse Soldiers, 1959, U.A., (B+); The Good The Bad And The Ugly, 1967, P.E.A., (A-); Broken Arrow, 1950, T.C.F., (A-); Run Of The Arrow, 1957, R.K.O., (A-) and three others, each - 30 x 40in. (76.2 x 101.6cm.) (9)
Collection from a private Irish cinema