Thursday, August 7, 2008

Top ten westerns

Clive Sinclair is the author of several novels and short stories, including True Tales of the Wild West.

For the Guardian, he selected his top ten westerns.

His account of what goes into a good western opens: "I can't go to bed with John Wayne, so I do the next best thing: I go to bed with my girlfriend, who once met the great man. That's how much I love westerns." [read on]

Number One on Sinclair's list:
The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister

In the 1880s a weedy Easterner named Owen Wister had something like a nervous breakdown. Wyoming, with its wide-open spaces and healthy pursuits, was prescribed as a cure. Wister was immediately smitten by the taciturn cowboys and the rules imposed upon them by the cattle barons. Collecting his notes he produced the novel that is the western's sine qua non. It was Gary Cooper, I think, who first spoke the immortal line on camera: "When you call me that, smile!" Researching for my own book I came upon the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming, where I was shown the very room in which Wister composed a part of his masterpiece. Some claim it was the very room whither the Virginian repaired to claim his Molly after his climactic shoot-out with Trampas. A good corrective to Wister's world view - in which the cattle barons (the "quality") were born justified - is Michael Cimino's unfairly vilified Heaven's Gate.
Read about the other nine titles.

--Marshal Zeringue