Although it is actually set in the Australian Outback, the plot of “The Proposition” can still qualify as a western. The story opens with an infamous outlaw, Charlie Burns (Guy Pierce), who has been apprehended by Captain Stanley Morris (Ray Winstone).
With all of his posse dead except his younger brother, Burns is given an ultimatum by Morris: find and kill his older brother (also an outlaw), or his younger brother will be killed. What unfolds expands beyond the plot of a traditional western into the drama of family dynamics.
City Slickers (Ron Underwood, 1991)
"City Slickers" is actually a crossover film, combining the comedy and western genres. Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) turns a midlife crisis into an adventure after his friends gift him a birthday trip to participate in a cattle drive in the Southwest.
A major comedy ensues when Robbins, who is accustomed to the big city, is forced to adapt to the ways of Western life. To this day, the film is still considered one of Crystal’s best comedies.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
In an unusual plotline, a lady of the night, Constance Miller (Julie Christie), and a gambler, John McCabe (Warren Beatty), decide to partner in a “business” venture. The pair open a combination tavern/brothel in hopes of making a lot of money but instead encounter some unforeseen problems when they turn down another business offer from the Harrison Shaughnessy Mining Company.
McCabe must then use his grittier skills to protect himself and his new business from the mining company’s thugs.
The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)
Quentin Tarantino’s films are typically known for their violent, avant-garde storylines. "The Hateful Eight" chronicles bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his captured outlaw, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), as they take temporary refuge in a small haberdashery.
The haberdashery, however, also houses a group of suspicious characters. As the film unfolds, the characters each reveal their malicious intentions as they clash with both Ruth and Domergue. As is common for Tarantino films, "The Hateful Eight" is full of violent twists and turns that make this western particularly captivating for viewers.
Open Range (Clifford Smith, 1927)
Released in 1927, the silent film Open Range revolves around both a drama and a love story. Ranch hand Tex Smith (Lane Chandler), the main protagonist, pursues a young woman named Lucy Blake, who lives in one of the nearby cattle settlements.
On the outskirts of their romance, American Indian chief Brave Bear is plotting (along with fellow rival Sam Hardman) to steal the local community’s cattle during a rodeo. The plot thickens when Tex is mistaken for one of the cattle rustlers and must defend his name, expose Brave Bear and Hardman, all while trying to win Lucy’s heart.