Saturday, September 30, 2017

My Ten Favorite Movies Set in Texas

My love for westerns and my enamoration with Texas are so tangled up together, I don't know where one begins and the other ends.  Texas has a mystique that has long enchanted me.  How long?  So long, I can't remember a time when I didn't wish I had been born there.

So here are my ten favorite movies that take place (at least partly) in Texas.  Astonishingly enough, two of them aren't even really westerns!  As usual, if I've already reviewed a movie, I'll link the title to my review.

1. The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) Four brothers (including John Wayne and Dean Martin) reunite at their mother's funeral and work together to find out how their parents lost their ranch. My favorite John Wayne movie!

2. The Magnificent Seven (1960) Poor Mexican villagers hire seven gunfighters to defend them from the bandit who's been oppressing them for years. Steve McQueen, Yul Brenner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn... magnificent, indeed!  (This starts off in Texas, and Texas gets mentioned several times, but the bulk of it takes place in Mexico.)

3. The Lone Ranger (2013) John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his Texas hometown after years away at law school.  Bad guys ambush him, his brother, and a company of Rangers -- everyone else dies, but a renegade named Tonto (Johnny Depp) saves John Reid's life, and together they try to bring down the greedy men responsible for the deaths of their family members.  It's a twisty, fable-like origin story that I never tire of.

4. Rio Bravo (1959) A sheriff, a recovering alcoholic, an old man, and a young gunslinger fend off a host of bad guys bent on springing a murderer from jail. John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, and Ricky Nelson play the four heroes. Angie Dickinson plays the love interest.

5. The Rare Breed (1966) A British widow and her daughter accompany the prize bull they've sold on its way to its new home in Texas, convinced it will revolutionize the cattle industry. James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Don Galloway, and Juliet Mills -- their characters are like my dear friends.

6. Giant (1956) A spoiled East Coast beauty (Elizabeth Taylor) marries a stubborn Texas rancher (Rock Hudson), and they spend twenty-five years trying to figure each other out. One of the first movies I can remember seeing, and my favorite James Dean movie.

7. Logan (2017) An aging, angry Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) tries to save his dying mentor (Patrick Stewart) and a young mutant (Dafne Keen) with striking similarities to himself by shepherding them across the country.  It's a poignant, aching meditation on loss, aging, generational gaps, family, and love.  But also brutally violent.  (This one also only takes place partly in Texas.)

8. The Searchers (1956) Bitter, angry Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) spends years and years searching for his niece (Natalie Wood), who was kidnapped by Indians as a child. He intends to kill her to end her shame and misery from being forced to marry an Indian. Probably John Wayne's finest performance. Even if you don't like westerns, you should see this once because it's a masterpiece.

9. Texas (1941) Two young Civil War veterans (Glenn Ford and William Holden) have a series of adventures in Texas as they try to make their way in the world, one of them on the right side of the law and one on the wrong.  It's a romp with a few serious parts.

10. The Alamo (1960) Based on true events, of course, with lots of famous actors playing the roles of real-life heroes like Davy Crockett (John Wayne), James Bowie (Richard Widmark), and William Travis (Laurence Harvey).  It's sad, of course, but also glorious.

This is my first contribution to the Texas Blogathon hosted by The Midnite Drive-In this weekend.  Tomorrow, I'll be back with a movie review!


  1. Great picks! I've never watched any of these, but I've heard great things about Rio Bravo. I've just found your blog and I'm following you on GFC! :)

    1. Thanks, Michele! Any great things you've heard about Rio Bravo were richly deserved :-) Nice to "meet" you!

  2. I've seen 7 of them for sure. I can't remember diddly about Giant, but I do know we watched a cut-down TV version of it when I was a kid. Big Marvel comics fan, but I am still waiting for the used dvd of "Logan" to show up at my local store. (I rarely buy brand new single movies... I buy collections new all the time, but most of them are old creaky movies from the 40's and 50's...) Another entrant covered "Texas", of which I had not even heard before. And I guess I'll finally break down and check out my library's copy of The Lone Ranger.

    1. Quiggy, oh man, are you in for a treat when you finally see Logan. It is so powerful. I'm a big fan of used movies too, so I hear you there. That one was so amazing I had to buy it new, though. Couldn't wait to see it again.

      Eva liked the sound of Texas so much when I reviewed it a while back that I ended up giving her a copy for her birthday, and now she's reviewed it for you, so it's a pretty cool cycle!

      So the thing with the new Lone Ranger is you have to view it as a tall tale. They frame it so that an aged Tonto is telling it to a little kid, and the present and past bleed together in some spots, so you realize that he's embellishing it and telling it as a big, exciting fable, not sticking to "just the facts." So don't expect it to be super serious or entirely... believable. Just expect it to be a fun ride.

    2. My birthday is in December... :-D

    3. Well, if I happen to find another used copy of Texas at the bookstore, i'll pick it up for you, hee.

  3. Some day, I kinda want to see "Logan." It's strange, because I'm not really interested in any of the other X-Men movies--but I am rather interested in "Logan." I think it's the whole family theme that grabs my attention . . . but I know it's quite graphically violent, so we shall see.

    In other film/TV news, "Doctor Who" has permanently cured me of my belief that television is boring :-)

    Also I'm watching "Bleak House" and it's very dark and I really love it.

    1. Jessica, you know... I could see you digging Logan. Except for some of the very graphic violence, which I have to look away from. I mean, I know we're making a point about savagery and what Logan/Wolverine has become, but I really don't need to watch him rip someone's face off. I just don't. So yeah, it's one to watch parts of through your fingers, or with a filtering service. Also there is a TON of bad language. Really bad language.

      I just haven't gotten into Doctor Who, and with some of their announcements about future content and story lines, I've decided I'm okay with that. Though maybe some day I'll try the David Tennant era, just because he amuses me.

      I hear good things about Bleak House! I think it might even be on my "watch me" list for stuff my library has.

    2. Well, but if I watch it on my computer, I could mute/skip parts I wasn't comfortable with . . . I'm interested in the family side of it, but also in the aging theme. So I'll keep it in mind :-)

      Doctor Who . . . yeah, I can see you not necessarily enjoying it. It doesn't seem like a very YOU sort of show, somehow. It's become very, very important to me, because it just feels like "home"; it feels so utterly and completely comfortable, rather like you feel about Westerns, I guess? I love the Doctor (all the incarnations I've seen so far, but Matt Smith especially). I love how curious he is, and how kind and compassionate. I love how he's all about saving people, saving as many people as he can, no matter what . . . and I just love the possibilities the show presents. TIME TRAVEL. I have so much fun thinking about time travel. And I love the way the Doctor just grabs random humans and is like, "this one. I wanna have adventures with this one."

      You should watch Bleak House, yes!! The acting is fabulous.

    3. Jessica, this is true, though you'd have to know when to mute/skip? They toss the F-word around a LOT. ( says 48 uses.) And the violence gets brutal.

      But the story it tells is achingly beautiful. The family and aging themes are just so poignant and... handled well. So yeah, it's a movie that I watch despite some things making me uncomfortable.

      Yeah, I think Doctor Who is possibly just not a "me" show, you're right. But I'm glad you enjoy it so much! As you describe it, something that feels like home -- I get that. Some shows and movies and genres just ARE that, and they're so amazing when you find one.

      Yeah, I will someday.

    4. Yeah, I mean, I bet they DO toss the F-word around a lot; but to be completely honest . . . they probably can't top an average day in the history department here at my university. (Some of us are Rather Free with our speech, you understand. *coughs* Not me. But some of us.) So we'll see. I could also try the filtering-service option.

      And that sounds like a story I would love <3 Poignant. That's me.

    5. Okay, Jessica, then here's some honesty from me: I am WAY less bothered by the F-word than I am by taking God's name in vain. I would rather watch a movie with forty F-words than one with a single G--d---.

      I have had roommates and co-workers who used a lot of bad language and while I don't choose to speak that way, it's not a make-or-break deal for me. But I know it is for some people, and I also am very selective about what kinds of language I let my kids hear in movies.

      So yeah, if that's not gonna bug you, go for it.

      Oh, there IS one moment of nudity where a bridesmaid flashes the camera/Logan. It's easy to see coming and skip if you know it's there. Which you do now.

      Logan makes me bawl. In a good way.

    6. *nods* Everyone has different personal standards, that's for sure. And that's fine. I basically take a very similar attitude--it's not the way I choose to speak myself, but it's not a make-or-break thing for me in media, either.

      Those are the best stories, the ones that make you cry really hard, but in a good way.

  4. I am looking forward to seeing Logan as well, and there are so many more on your list that I love and need to see again. John Wayne’s The Alamo, The Mag nificent Seven, and best of all The Searchers.
    - Chris

    1. Chris, Logan is pretty amazing. And it references one of my favorite westerns over and over :-o I didn't know when I went to see it the first time that they would do that, and it took my breath away.

      Glad you like my list!

  5. Rio Bravo is one of my absolute favorite westerns. Ever. <3

  6. I would have to put Rio Bravo above The Sons of Katie Elder. Both are great. I have them in a box set with True Grit and another John Wayne movie or two.

    As for problems with language, and other objectionable content, I recommend You can set your own filters to screen out that which you don't want to see/hear. It works exceptionally well.

    1. Stanley, I would say Rio Bravo is the better movie, but I like Sons of Katie Elder better.

      I hear good things about vidangel -- I think as my kids get older, we will start using it to watch movies I haven't seen yet.

  7. Yay for The Rare Breed - I hardly hear about this nice movie,a nd it's so underrated! I also really enjoy Rio Bravo and The Sons of Katie Elder! Fantastic list!

    1. Le, always nice to find another Rare Breed fan! Definitely a movie more people should be aware of/watch.


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