Top 4 On-screen Cowboys

On-screen Cowboys

They are tough, keen and hard to grasp. Their way of life is endemic and doesn’t resemble anything mankind epitomized so far. Their moral code is unique and their fairness is well known.

Looking back through the history of cinematography, we stumbled upon these 4 figures that immortalized western way of life with their flawless craft. If you ever wondered what’s it like to date a cowboy this short list of legendary names will suggest you that you are browsing through a perfect category of men.


1. Gary Cooper

Born in Montana, Cooper became a true star in the first significant sound western, “The Virginian” filmed in 1929. Some regard him as the heir apparent to the great silent cowboy William S Hart. For the next 30 years, his lanky, iconic presence was a permanent characteristic of frontier movies including three made by Cecil B. DeMille. His golden period was in the 1950s when he won an Oscar in the western classic “High Noon”. He also co-starred with Burt Lancaster in “Vera Cruz” and made “Man of the West”. He died in 1961 and Corriere della Sera, an Italian daily newspaper, wrote: “Perhaps with him, there has ended a certain America: that of the frontier and of innocence”

2. John Wayne

His first important movie, “The Big Trail” from 1930, was a failure and he started making B-movies for a decade until a savior embodied in the image of John Ford hired him for the crucial role in “Stagecoach”. Hereafter, he dominated the genre with confidence that is hardly equaled. His peculiar walk, his strangely phrased diction, and his towering appearance combined with his distinctive voice made him a perfect western match. In the Oscar-winning “True Grit”, he mocked himself and his right-wing politics.

He was given a 180-degree makeover for the movie “Red River” as an arrogant middle-aged rancher. His greatest films without a doubt were “The Searchers” and “Rio Bravo”. He made his final appearance in “The Shootist” as an aged marshal dying of cancer in where he consolidated the actor, the man, and the west itself.

3. James Stewart

Tall, thin, with his country-boy behavior, much influenced by Gary Cooper, Stewart made his debut with Marlene Dietrich in the comical “Destry Rides Again” in 1939. However, it was his collaboration with Anthony Mann on “Winchester 73” that made him a key player in the genre. Characters he played were mostly intense, obsessed avengers with a quick hand and even quicker draw. When Cooper was chosen as a lead actor in movie “Man of the West” Stewart never spoke to Anthony Mann again. He also acted opposing Wayne in Ford’s detailed “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, a story about the western itself. He was Wayne’s doctor in “The Shootist”.

Top 4 On-screen Cowboys4. Clint Eastwood

As a representative of a younger generation in 1964, Eastwood was taken from the semi-unknownness of TV by Sergio Leone for his famous Dollar trilogy of spaghetti westerns. He became known as the last American star to owe his fame to cowboy movies. His mystical “man with no name” persona stuck on him, and he even directed his first western, “High Plains Drifter”, in 1973. As a director, he fathomed the true spirit and relationship between cowboys and cowgirls. He only made three more western movies after that: “The Outlaw Josey Wales”, “Pale Rider” and “Unforgiven”, which won Oscars for best film and direction. “Unforgiven” was incorrectly hailed as the indication of a western renaissance.

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