Blood, Sweat & Bullets: The Search For Cinema’s Greatest Ever Western – By David “El Pudín” Stephenson

Chapter One: The Joy Of The Kill

Through its short but colourful career atop the world stage, America has bestowed upon us many fine gifts – from automobiles to cheese burgers, from free love to nuclear war, from Martin Luther King to Mike Tyson, the good ol’ USA has enriched our lives with some of the true cornerstones of humanity.

Malcolm X. Abraham Lincoln. Barrack Obama. Benjamin Franklin. Mark Twain. Jonas Salk. Elvis Presley. Bill Cosby. Kesha. The list of party favours that America has brought to the orgy of life really is endless.

Yet (in my mind at least) there is one true towering mountain of red, white and blue greatness that stands tall above all else. One pinnacle achieved to which the citizens of the world’s #1 super power can truly be proud.

I refer, of course, to cinema’s finest hour: The Western

Truly nothing screams ‘Americana’ louder than the sight of John Wayne coming over the horizon, high atop his trusty steed, rifle in hand, weary yet proud after a hard day of shooting poachers in the face. To me, the glorious image of the United States was never more clearly in focus than in the visage of Clint Eastwood, cigar in mouth, blood-encrusted poncho hanging proudly across his shoulders, angry snarl and squinted eyes intact, ready for a long day of butchering Mexicans. Or how about the late, great Charles Bronson: 5’ 10” of steely resolve, random fury, icy cool, murderous intent and facial hair? What do we have in this day and age that can stand up to that? Twilight? Glee? Justin Bieber? Fuck that.

Westerns are a God-damned art form and I won’t hear anything else about it. Sure, in this pussified day and age the image of the classic Western has been watered down somewhat by a sea of lilly-livered vegetarianism, Metrosexuality, The Village People, bad country music and Brokeback Mountain. But so what? Like Bald Eagles, Monster Trucks, Hulk Hogan and Bon Jovi, Westerns will be forever remembered as part of the cultural explosion made America what it is today.

Icons like Wayne, Eastwood, Stewart, Mix, Cooper et al defined a bygone and sorely missed era where men were real men and the rules of life were simple – a era of kicking ass, taking names, blowing shit up, brawling in saloons, shooting faceless villains by the thousand, drinking whiskey, wearing ridiculously large hats, murdering foreigners, rescuing the perky heroine and donkey-punching the occasional Buffalo. What’s not to love?

It is with this nostalgic, violence-craving song in my heart that I hereby embark upon an epic voyage to rival the very cattle runs that gave the Wild West its legendary reputation. It is with a sense of pure, unbridled joy that the wise folk who run this epic website have commissioned me in the search for the Greatest Western Of All Time. A lofty goal, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Each month I shall be examining one of the heavyweights of this most unique and gloriously blood-thirsty genre. Each month I shall be bringing you a true classic of Western Cinema and in detail stripping it down, analysing it for all its worth and asking important questions like:

· How do the classic Westerns we all grew up on measure up in today’s world of CGIs, 3D Cinema, car chases and various other celluloid rabies?
· What is it, exactly, that makes a truly great western?
· How many banditos does one have to murder before one becomes a true hero?
· Were the so-called ‘legends’ of the past really worth their legacies? Or has history simply over-spooned the old, bloated talents of yesteryear?
· Can a guy watch a Western musical without embracing rampant homosexuality?
· Can the Westerns of today measure up to the classics of the past?

And last but not least…

· Who was the biggest badass in the history of Wild West cinema?

Forget the ‘experts’ with their rose-tinted views of the past. Forget the ‘fan boys’ and their socially-retarded encyclopaedic knowledge. Forget the hype. What makes this series special is that it’s written from a truly fresh perspective – while it’s true I’ve grown up with these movies all my life, I am by no means an ‘expert’. My view will in no way be tainted by those who came before me. My motives are pure – there really is no agenda here, other than a love of the genre, a joy for new cinema experiences, the wonder of the unknown, and the guilty pleasure in watching a shadowy figure on horseback shoot the living shit out of everything in sight just because he can.

Which movie will emerge victorious? Which film will be crowned the greatest of them all? Time will tell, but one thing’s for certain… it’s gonna be one hell of a ride!