In preparation for our End-Of-Summer Camp party at the Smithsonian American Art Museum next week, we’ve been looking at a lot of David Levinthal pictures, and in turn a ton of old Western films. To help get you in the spirit for next week, we’ve put together a list of the most rootinest, tootinest cowboy films to ever grace the silver screen.
And if you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your tickets now to join us at End-Of-Summer Camp on September 20. Our $65 Getting Campy level tickets are going fast and we don’t want you or your pardners getting left behind!
High Noon is famously depicted in real time, following the lead up to, shockingly, high noon. Will Kane prepares to retire from his job as town Marshal, following his marriage to Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly). Before Will can retire, he finds out an outlaw he put away has gotten out of jail, and is arriving on the train at noon. A delightful demonstration of tension building, this is the quintessential cowboy shootout movie.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Clint Eastwood stars in this cinematically gorgeous Spaghetti Western, known for its long shots and incredible action sequences. The story follows three gunslingers who compete with each other to find gold. An iconic movie through and through. Make sure you keep an ear out for Ennio Morricone’s incredible soundtrack – it makes the film that much better.
Shane tells the story of the titular character as he tries to escape from his life as a gunfighter. Despite his attempts to settle down, Shane finds himself defending a town from a ruthless cattle baron. A classic tale of a drifter coming to town, saving said town and moving on. The last scene, as Shane rides off, ignoring the cries of a child he had grown close to, is iconic in and of itself, but the movie holds up.
We couldn’t make this list without a John Wayne led film, directed by John Ford. The film follows Wayne’s Ethan Edwards as he endeavors to rescue his kidnapped niece. Despite the warranted criticisms of Ford’s depictions of Native Americans in the film, The Searchers is one of the most influential Westerns of all time, and is often regarded as one of the best films of all time.
The Wild Bunch
The Wild Bunch is a film that is nostalgic of the brutal times it was depicting. Made in 1969 when the age of the Western was coming to an end, The Wild Bunch depicts the end of the Wild West and a group of aging outlaws. The film and its protagonists fight tooth and nail to survive in a changing landscape – looking for one more score as the west they know is disappearing around them.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Paul Newman and Robert Redford star as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, respectively. The pair are the leaders of a gang of outlaws, however, when a train robbery takes a turn, they find themselves on the run, looking for a way to escape to Bolivia. Once they get there, they find themselves on the run again, never safe.
A female led Western? Made in the 1950s? It’s no wonder you’ve likely never heard of it, it’s so buried in the testosterone of its peers. Johnny Guitar follows Joan Crawford’s Vienna, when she is wrongly accused of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob. Vienna’s strong personality, sharp wit, and the impeccable fashion make her the perfect heroine that the Westerns so desperately needed.
Westworld is an interesting type of Western, because it’s not just a Western, it’s also science fiction. First a 1973 film, and now a hit HBO show, Westworld takes place in the future, at an amusement park that allows people to live inside of a Western. All of the characters are “hosts,” androids that can be hurt and killed to the guests desire. It may not actually take place in the 19th century, but hey, robot cowboys are just as valid.
The best part of End-Of-Summer Camp? You can truly be whoever you want to be! Lean into your cowboy vibes with as much fringe as you can find, or look perfect in pink as Barbie – there are no rules at Camp BYT other than just have fun!
Don’t miss out on this fun though, $65 open bar tickets are going fast so BUY YOUR TICKETS soon!
Friday, September 20th
8:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
@ Smithsonian American Art Museum
800 G St NW Washington DC 20004