Run of the Arrow follows Private O’Meara, a Confederate soldier who ends up living with a Native American tribe. One could even credit this film for inspiring Kevin Costner’s “Dances with Wolves.” Unfortunately, in true 1950’s fashion, the Native American characters are all played by clearly Caucasian actors.
Not entirely helpful in the authenticity department. Still, the film manages to depict the deductive nature of bigotry in its own Hollywood way.
Destry Rides Again (George Marshall, 1939)
A greedy cheat takes control over all the local cattle ranches. When the sheriff suspects rigging, Kent has him killed. Enter legendary lawman Tom Destry, who restores town order. It's every western cliche thrown in one.
From crooked gamblers, drunks, and beautiful girls, you sure can't deny that it's a good old time.
The Wind (Victor Sjöström, 1928)
This Swedish western follows the captivating tale of an East Coast woman forced into an unwanted marriage. Left to suffer in a windy cottage, our protagonist ( played by Lillian Gish) gets swept up by the literal wind (hence the importance of the name.)
The hallucinatory film remains grounded in Gish's performance as she offers raw emotion that depicts her inner conflict as she sits alone in the vast wilderness,
Vera Cruz (Robert Aldrich, 1954)
This film certainly offers a punch. A countess and her gold need to be transported to Vera Cruz, a port city in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, various alliances are created as much as they are double-crossed. It's a game of wits executed perfectly by the brilliant Robert Aldrich.
It's also great to see the genre-expanding into new landscapes.
Pale Rider (Clint Eastwood, 1985)
When a snowy mountain is pillaged over a land ownership battle during the early Gold Rush, all notions of money and land play into the grand struggle for power in America.
This Clint Eastwood blockbuster, while special in its own right, somewhat resembles "The Unforgiven" and could even be considered as a trial run.