High Five theme: Westerns

Django Unchained        

Bounty hunter Dr Schultz (Christoph Waltz) frees African-American Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) to help him track down three outlaws. Schultz promises to free Django after they catch the outlaws and in return Django agrees, provided he can locate and free his wife (Kerry Washington) from her owner Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). They manage to trace Broomhilda but Candie’s slave Stephen warns Candie that Django and Broomhilda know each other. Schultz shoots Candie using a hidden gun and Schultz too gets shot. Django after a gory gunfight kills off Candie’s henchmen, shoots Stephen in his knee, and then blows up the mansion. The stylised spaghetti Western gained many awards and was also Quentin Tarantino’s highest-grosser.

Appaloosa

High Five theme: Westerns

In Appaloosa town, after the town’s marshal and his deputies are killed trying to arrest the henchmen of rancher Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who is ruling the town, Cole (Ed Harris) and deputy Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are hired to regain control of the town, which they manage to do. Cole falls for a widow Allie (Renée Zellweger) who tries to seduce Hitch but he refuses out of loyalty to Cole. Bragg is tried and sentenced to hang but is granted a Presidential pardon. On realising that Allie is having an affair with Bragg and in order to give Cole a chance to win her over, Hitch quits as deputy, kills Bragg in a duel and leaves town. Watch this well-made Western which was also listed among the top ten best films of that year.

Open Range      

High Five theme: Westerns

Open range cattleman ‘Boss’ (Robert Duvall) has hired Charley (Kevin Costner), Mose and Button to assist in driving a herd across the country. Land baron Baxter (Gambon) has Mose thrashed. At Doc Barlow’s Charley gets attracted to Sue (Annette Bening). After Mose dies and Button is injured, Charley and Boss seek revenge and when they seem outnumbered, the townspeople support them against Baxter. Charley proposes to Sue and Charley and Boss decide to settle down in the town. The BO hit is rated among the 50 greatest Westerns, won the 2004 Western Heritage Award and features ‘one of the most exciting (and realistic) final gunfights ever filmed’.

The Stalking Moon

High Five theme: Westerns

Based on the novel by TV Olsen, the film begins with US soldiers rounding up some native Indians and among them a white woman Sarah (Eva Marie Saint) and her half-Indian son are found. An army scout Sam Varner (Gregory Peck) is headed to his ranch in Mexico. The boy’s Indian warrior father Salvaje is a ruthless killer. Varner takes Sarah and her son to his ranch. Sarah and her son do not talk to Sam despite his best efforts. Sam realises that Salvaje is coming to the ranch to take away his son. Salvaje and Sam have a brutal fight and eventually Sam shoots, killing Salvaje and Sarah rushes out to help Sam.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

High Five theme: Westerns

Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) and wife Hallie (Vera Miles) arrive in a town to attend the funeral of Doniphon (John Wayne). In a flashback Stoddard recounts how he had come there 25 years ago as an idealistic lawyer. His stagecoach was robbed by a gang led by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Only Doniphon, who planned to marry Hallie, was willing to stand up to Valance. After the townspeople elected Stoddard, Valance challenged Stoddard to a gunfight but to everyone’s shock Stoddard killed Valance. Stoddard hesitated from becoming the delegate to Washington since he felt he had killed a man. On realising that Hallie loves Stoddard, Doniphon confesses that he, Doniphon, had shot Valance at the same time as Stoddard, killing him. Stoddard marries Hallie, and as ‘the man who shot Liberty Valance’ becomes the first Governor of the state. The black-and-white film is considered to be ‘one of the great Western classics’ and was 16th highest grosser of that year.

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