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The best director of westerns...?


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For me it's not John Ford, whom I hold in very high regard. I think Jacques Tourneur is the best director of classic westerns

 

I've always been mesmerized by CANYON PASSAGE. But today I watched GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING, which was the last one he made in 1956-- and I was mesmerized all over again. He does so much with Technicolor and editing to convey the subtlest meanings, especially with regards to characters' ambiguities that I am in awe. Ford's westerns seem preachy by comparison, and everyone else directing in this genre seems like an amateur.

 

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A very good director of many different types of films, his most famous one is "Out of the Past", a film noir classic [ many consider it the best] he did some well made Westerns starting with his first "Canyon Passage". he did some good ones in the 50's with Joel McCrea, "Stars in my Crown"," Wichita" . His cult films like "Cat People", "I Walked with a Zombie" and "The Leopard Man" are well made and directed.

 

But I still taker Ford as the Man of the Westerns....

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A very good director of many different types of films, his most famous one is "Out of the Past", a film noir classic [ many consider it the best] he did some well made Westerns starting with his first "Canyon Passage". he did some good ones in the 50's with Joel McCrea, "Stars in my Crown"," Wichita" . His cult films like "Cat People", "I Walked with a Zombie" and "The Leopard Man" are well made and directed.

 

But I still taker Ford as the Man of the Westerns....

I am watching NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE starring Walter Pidgeon (made in '39). I was surprised to see Tourneur's name as director since I didn't realize he was making films at MGM in the 30s. The opening shots, involving blurred movement and fog, are unmistakably Tourneur-- and the action sequence that starts the film, involving a hijacked plane and a shoot-out on the runway are very exciting. 

 

I love the way he stages action, in any genre, because it opens the door to many possibilities. But in the western format, it seems more striking to me, because he is showing how good and evil blur in stories that are usually told to emphasize heroism and good winning out over bad.

 

By comparison, Ford seems to be a heavy-handed moralist. And as I said previously, everyone else is an amateur lacking the depth and understanding of the human condition that Tourneur brings to his films.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For me it's John Sturges. 

 

Gunfight at the OK Corral. 

Last Train from Gun Hill. 

The Magnificent Seven. 

Hour of the Gun.

 

These are just the ones I can think of now.

I agree Sturges is good. Another one who deserves mention in my book is Andre de Toth. He made some of the sharpest B westerns around-- more like B+ or A- westerns.

 

Among his best: RAMROD; CARSON CITY; MAN IN THE SADDLE; THE INDIAN FIGHTER; and my personal favorite of his-- DAY OF THE OUTLAW with Robert Ryan.

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Top 5 western directors (in no particular order) - John Ford, Howard Hawks, Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, Budd Boetticher.

 

The Ranown Cycle is consistently underrated. "Seven Men From Now" and "Ride Lonesome" are two of the best westerns ever made. 

I like the two Ranown films you mentioned. The best one has to be SEVEN MEN FROM NOW-- Gail Russell just nails it. 

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  • 2 months later...

I agree that Mann should get credit.   I like his westerns.   He deserves a special place in film history as the man that took the 'ah shucks' out of Jimmy Stewart. 

Too bad he and Stewart had a falling out. They could have continued to make more films together in the 60s.

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