Oi Polloi

The Best of the West

Published: Thu Jan 24 2013

With Django Unchained currently doing the rounds at a Cineplex near you, we thought we’d scour the murky spittoon of YouTube to find some of our favourite bits from the majestic genre known as the western. And just so you’re not disappointed, we’re sorry to say that Wild Wild West didn’t make the cut.

First up we’ve got the opening scene from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Sure, James Coburn’s jacket is pretty special and it’s nice to see the gaunt face of Harry Dean Stanton make an appearance (backing the theory that he’s had a supporting role in every good film ever made), but the real clincher with this is the chicken shooting. Surely there’s no more satisfying past-time than to take a live chicken, bury it up to its head in dirt and then take pot-shots at it on a clear summer’s day, all to the wistful acoustic strumming of Bob Dylan.

But westerns aren’t just about ‘rugged men doing rugged things’, and there’s a fair few fired up little missies as well — none quite as fiery as the young Mattie Ross in the 1969 version of True Grit.

I’ve never seen Alexander Jodorowsky’s dwarf-laden acid-western, El Topo — and to be honest I’m not sure I’m ready too. So until I’ve reached the tantric mental state when I’m prepared, I’ll just stick with the trailer. Although on second thoughts this probably shouldn’t be featured in this western feature — “EL TOPO IS NOT A WESTERN.”

And if all that was a bit much, lets wrap things up with perhaps the least ‘western’ scene to ever feature in a western — the bicycle scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Featuring all manner of progressive stunts, an angry bull and the smooth sounds of Burt Bacharach, this is a nice bit of light relief in the world of blood, grit and moonshine.

And if all this talk has made you want to saddle up and head out west, we’ve just had a wagon-train of Lee and Levi’s Vintage Clothing, so even if you can’t fire a pistol straight, at least you’ll look the part.