The real 9/11 suspects

Probably the best book on 9/11 is Another Nineteen, Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects by Kevin Robert Ryan, a book that peers deep into the biographies of those suspiciously residing in key strategic positions. If 9/11 was a deep intelligence project designed to jump-start a war, this trail should be an effective one.

I don’t pretend to know what happened on 9/11, although I do know the Commission that supposedly investigated it was handcuffed from the start and much has been obscured and hidden and many lies told by the backpedaling Pentagon. When two Congressmen recently read the deleted secret pages concerning Saudi complicity removed from the final report, it put them into shock and completely rearranged their understanding of the event. Citizens of New York City are also pressing for an investigation into why Building 7 collapsed without investigation.
Meet Paul Mlakar (above). While working as Vice President of JAYCOR, unofficial spinoff of SAIC, Mlakar obtained a number of patents on explosive containment devices for aircraft. In 1998, he performed classified simulations measuring the damage the Pentagon would suffer from a truck bomb.

After 9/11 Mlakar was put in charge of investigating the crash at the Pentagon.

Interestingly enough, Mlakar is married to the daughter of Col. Robert P. Halloran, a former intelligence officer and acting director of the NSA under Allen Dulles (1960-61).

What Ryan’s book does primarily is show how a small cabal of 19 inside America could have easily run the event, and what is truly scary is the dots point to a NATO connection. In other words, this cabal has close ties to European centers of power, so when people say 9/11 was an “inside job” I don’t think that comment is necessarily completely true, although certainly a few major players inside the US establishment and military were involved, the conspiracy stretches across the pond to our mother countries.

The real story behind Sugarland Express

Pursuit of Robert Dent in southeast Texas, May 1969, which inspired the film “The Sugarland Express.”

Bobby Dent was driving through Port Arthur with his wife Fae, when a patrol car appeared behind him, red lights twirling at 2 AM in the morning. It’s never been determined what exactly the Dents were up to at that time of morning, but whatever it was, it was enough to cause Bobby to panic and try and outrun the squad car. He ended up crashing into a tree in the woods outside town.

Before the police could apprehend the couple, they disappeared into the woods where they located an empty cabin with a working telephone. After meditating on his situation for a few hours, Bobby called the operator and brazenly told her that he and his wife and been hitchhiking when they were beaten and robbed and they required transportation to a doctor or hospital.  At 6 AM, a highway patrolman appeared at the cabin to assist the couple, but when he entered the cabin, Fae and Bobby pointed revolvers at him.

Without any plan of what they were doing next, the Dents took the trooper hostage and began driving to Houston, Fae holding a shotgun to his head in the backseat while Bobby pressed a Magnum against his side. Apparently the Dents did not realize driving down a busy highway in this manner was likely to create commotion, something O. J. Simpson would learn many years later when he made his panicky escape attempt. By the time they reached Houston, the caravan behind them numbered over 100 vehicles.

Texas State Trooper James Kenneth Crone. Crone was kidnapped May 2, 1969, by Robert and Ila Faye Dent.

Jim Crone was the kidnapped officer and DPS Captain Jerry Miller in charge of the rescue. To his great credit, Miller refused to blockade or impede the Dents, and even allowed them to make refuel and bathroom stops without any interference. His only plan was to prevent the Dents from doing harm to anyone.

Along the way, Bobby and Fae decided to turn north so they could visit Fae’s two children from a previous marriage, who were living with their grandmother. Captain Miller made a deal with Bobby that Fae could see her kids for a few minutes and then get a 15-minute headstart to continue their escape. Bobby was gullible enough to believe him and when he opened the door to Fae’s mom’s house with Crone in front of him, Crone threw himself on the floor. Bobby took a shotgun blast in the chest as well as a few revolver rounds in the heart.
Fae dropped her weapon and sobbed, “They’ve killed him.”

Ila Faye Dent, outside a Wheelock home and just feet away from her dead husband, Robert Dent.

The press took a photo of her staring at Bobby’s lifeless body right after the killing.
Fae ended up serving a few months in jail and was then reunited with her kids. Steven Spielberg was 30 when he made the film version of this story, although if you’ve seen the film, you’ll realize how much the story was twisted for cheap emotional effect.

Sugarland Express was Spielberg’s first feature and it bombed, although it’s a highly entertaining movie provided you don’t know the real story. In retrospect, I believe his rise to one of the greatest wag-the-dog producers of our time was ordained from the beginning. Certain people just have all the right connections to get sheep-dipped as a Knight in Shining Armor, and no matter what the outcome of their missions, their promotions will be assured, so it should come as no surprise he was handed a shark film next, and once again showed how effective his tricks could be, no matter if the content was somewhat shallow. Of all his films, Munich really stands out as the best for my taste, and it’s one of my top ten spy films.

Down the Rabbit Hole we go….my review of Unthinkable

marshall-murder-suicideI was shocked to wake up and discover the New York Times had reviewed the release of a extremely low-budget and obscure 9/11 conspiracy film called Unthinkable, closely based on the life and death of Philip Marshall, who was found dead along with his two teenage children, all three with a single bullet to the head.

Marshall had briefly worked in New Orleans with Barry Seal many decades ago, and Barry was one of the most famous spooks of his time, and a man hung out to dry by the CIA after he stopped playing ball and threatened to go rouge. Marshall wrote a book about Barry, then published a book on 9/11. He was continuing to investigate that incident when he abruptly turned up dead. Since Marshall was a pilot, it was easy for him to gather evidence that conflicted with the official story because some of the planes that day were doing maneuvers captured by radar that defied the abilities of the most accomplished pilots, much less anyone with only a few hours of training. Many months after Marshall’s death, I finally got around to ordering a copy of his 9/11 book, The Big Bamboozle, which never made a splash in the press or earned much money. The book had some useful information, but did not break new ground or contain any smoking guns. Obviously, we’ll never know what really happened on 9/11 until the obvious trails into Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are fully investigated, something Congress refused to do, but my initial suspicion was Marshall may have been whacked.

Wayne Madsen flew out to California to investigate this incident and decided it was murder, not suicide as claimed by the local police. Unthinkable is told from Maden’s point-of-view and seems to rely exclusively on his evidence.
So why is the New York Times even the slightest bit interested in this film anyway? Please note Madsen is a frequent guest on the Alex Jones, and Jones is an obvious demagogue spreading paranoia.

The good thing about all this is it basically confirms my suspicion Madsen is still a spook. Of course, he makes no secret of his past work for the NSA, or career in the Navy, the most sinister of all the divisions of the military it seems, or at least the one with the longest documented involvement with organized crime, since it was Naval intelligence that made the deal with Lucky Luciano and later tried to buy off Jim Garrison’s investigation of JFK’s assassination.
I don’t trust whistleblowers on sight because most are manufactured and controlled in some way. Real whistleblowers get whacked, while fakes end up on the cover of Time magazine. This is nothing new and things have been handled in this way for a long time, which is why I call it “a wilderness of mirrors.” But if you want to add another layer of complexity to this situation, paint legitimate suicides as NSA hits. The same thing was basically attempted after Gary Webb committed suicide. Gary had already lost his job, his house, his family. His last possession, his motorcycle, was stolen right before he killed himself. Daniel Hopsicker wrote a great blog on Marshall’s death and does not trust Madsen any more than I do.

So I’ve decided Philip Marshall was bipolar, about to divorce, and in a delusional breakdown when he shot his sleeping kids in the head and turned his gun on himself. The major objections to this were no one in the neighborhood heard any shots that night, but, in fact, the police did test the weapon inside the house and discovered it did not make sufficient noise to alarm anyone in the adjacent homes.

Consequently, you might take this film with a grain of salt, or anything else that stems from the research of Wayne Madsen.
Here’s the trailer:

Obama's comedic rise and future of the Presidency

obama-galifianakisAmerica has turned a new page. The President is officially a comedian, so expect the wag the dog movies to get a lot more entertaining. I predict this is the beginning of a trend, in fact. Pretty soon, getting to the White House might depend on your ability to deliver a punch line.
I don’t know how much of Zach/Barack skit was scripted (I assume all of it), but there’s no denying the sitting President has a future in stand-up should he desire to pursue that path after the Presidency.
This moment reminds me when Entertainment Tonight first debuted on television. I was working on a script that would become the film Beat Street, so I was all caught up in entertainment media and thought Entertainment Tonight was the greatest show on television. But after it ate television, I began to despise this trend of putting celebrities at the forefront of news.
But I realize if comedians are going to become politicians soon, and that sure seems likely based on what’s happening, this might be a great time to elect Bill Murray as President. And how cool would that be?

Cult Classics Free on Youtube

CultClassicsCoverWhile working on my just-released smart ebook on the 200 greatest films in history, I collected a lot more than 200 films, so I’m already planning a follow-up, only this time, I’m only including films that stream free on Youtube.
I bet you know of a great film that streams free, and I’d sure love it if you sent me a link as a comment on this blog so I can include it in my next series. I program thousands of hyper links in these ebooks to multiple websites, which is why I call them “smart.”
Don Henderson sent me a link to a film called Cool World made in the early 1960s (not the animated feature of the same name). Meanwhile, within a few minutes Dave Allen recommended Nightmare Alley, while James Marshall posted Five Minutes to Kill starring Johnny Cash of Facebook.
Post any links to this blog you think should be in my next film book.


My Ultimate Film Guide

FilmGuideCover4My kids just reached the age when they realize the best films are not necessarily the most recent nor the most expensive to make. The films you watch define who you are, just like the bands you listen to, books you read, and ceremonies you follow.
We have no shortage of options available: Netflix on demand, Amazon Prime, and Time Warner Cable with HBO and Showtime. Combine that with 5,000 reviews in most guides and you enter the maze of indecision. Just navigating the various options and locating the best portal for streaming has left us in such a confused state movie-night ceremonies have been cancelled.
I knew there had to be a better way. The problem with previous guides is they were invented before Internet streaming changed everything. And they seem to put a premium on who has the most reviews with the longest descriptions.
So I decided to make a list of the essentials with hyperlinks to the crucial websites that are constantly being updated, just so my kids and I could make informed choices and navigate options fast. The same masterpiece that streams free on one site, might rent for 10 or $12 on some other, and I didn’t want to fall for any lay-down deals. I encourage you to stop by Amazon and pick it up.

My 10 favorite spy movies

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) introduced the concept of hypnotic mind control assassins walking among us. The film was recently remade, although the more modern version was a disaster and conveys none of the suspense of the original, which was based on an explosive book by Richard Condon, who’d served as the publicist for Walt Disney before launching his career as a novelist. Disney was very close with J. Edgar Hoover and a real Cold Warrior himself. There were some deep secrets revealed by this film, so much so the studio pulled it one year after release because it had some eerie parallels to the assassination of JFK.

If you were expecting a James Bond film on this list, I’m afraid to disappoint. The Bond films are entertaining but really just silly melodramas that bear little resemblance to the moral complexities real spooks face when they delve into deep politics. John Le Carre’s portrayals of spook world were far more accurate than anything Ian Fleming ever wrote, although they both worked for British intelligence, though Le Carre’s “Circus” was initially based on the inner sanctum of the SIS, while Fleming initially worked for British naval intelligence. Based on Le Carre’s third and most successful novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) introduced George Smiley to most of the world.

The Ipcress File (1965) followed in the wake of Manchurian Candidate by delving into the use of hypnotism and psychic driving to rearrange the brains of secret agents who knew too much. It would soon become much imitated. Sealed the career of Michael Caine and got him noticed in Hollywood. Based on a novel by fromer RAF pilot Len Deighton. In response to the Bond franchise, Deighton revealed spook world was actually filled with meaningless red tape and interdepartmental rivalries to great comic effect.

The Kremlin Letter (1970) was a ground-breaking film that bombed at the box office, but remains one of the great masterpieces of the genre directed by John Huston and based on a book written by Noel Behn, formerly of the United States Army Counterintelligence Corps. This is probably the closest thing to a real CIA operation in Russia you will ever find, and it all revolves around drugs and prostitutes. The protagonist is recruited out of the Navy because of his photographic memory and soon enters the rabbit hole into a wilderness of mirrors. The spooks are ruthless and will use any tactic to fulfill a mission, and you never know which side they’re on because sides change quickly.

You don’t see this film on many lists, but I love it, and it revealed the dark underbelly to our involvement in Vietnam, including capturing a monopoly on opium from French intelligence. It’s not really classified as a “spy” movie because the main character was loosely based on Neal Cassady. They even recreate a version of the Pranksters hangout in Perry Lane for the big climatic ending, when the bad spooks and Cassady slug it out. Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) is a rousing adventure story in which the spooks are the bad guys.

In the real world of spooks, the hidden machinations of the oil industry play a crucial role. Oil is a weapon, and when the price goes high, countries that don’t have any, like China, are kept in check. Syriana (2005) remains one of the few peeks into the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has become a haven for spook activities.

Munich (2006) may be my all-time favorite spy film and details how Israel set-up assassination teams to get vengeance against the Black September group that assassinated their Olympic champions at the Munich games in 1972. Based on the life of real-life Mossad agent Juval Aviv, it shows how the moderate Palestinian leadership was replaced by violent fanatics after the assassinations, leaving the Mossad spooks wondering if they weren’t being manipulated to increase violence and tension rather than resolve it.

The Company (2007) is actually what many undercover CIA spooks call their outfit, and this history of the CIA is better than the more expensive The Good Shepherd, which covered similar territory and was released a year earlier, the difference being this was released as a TV miniseries and not a theatrical film. Unfortunately, both projects blinked when it came to covering the JFK assassination, which was a Company project undertaken by many of the same spooks involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Other than that major oversight, there’s some real truths revealed in this complex drama.

Spooks and terrorists go hand-in-hand, and in the wilderness of mirrors it’s often hard to tell the two apart. Carlos (2010) is a masterful glimpse into this world and would have been even better if the original Feelies soundtrack had been left intact. Unfortunately, the band didn’t want to get associated with a notorious terrorist and nixed their music. You won’t find a better miniseries about deep political events and I promise this will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.

There are two celebrated versions of this famous Le Carre novel, one made for the BBC starring Alec Guinness and the other a British-French theatrical film starring Gary Oldman. Since I haven’t seen the BBC version I can’t say which is better, but I was greatly impressed by Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy (2011). The story is a loose interpretation of the unveiling of super spook Kim Philby, but some elements are ignored to make it more palatable, especially Philby’s friendship with Victor Rothschild.

Just one of many categories in my fun film guide, available exclusively on Amazon.

My 10 favorite horror films

The British may own spooks and black magic through their dominating James Bond and Harry Potter icons, but the Germans initially ruled over the birth of horror films. The first masterpiece of the genre is the expressionistic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). Modern concepts of hypnotism and mind control are expressed in this film, although the CIA would not adopt them for another 20 years or so.

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) is one of the greatest spy movies ever made, and also a terrific horror story with many layers. It introduced the concept of brainwashing through psychic driving and ritual abuse. In fact, the story was so on target the film had to be pulled for many years after JFK was assassinated, simply because the assassination had too many similarities with this story. In fact, Oswald was undoubtedly a victim of MKULTRA hypnosis programming. The 1960s was really the classic era of this genre and half my top ten come from the decade.

Carnival of Souls (1962) sets the record for low budget, having been made for around $33,000. Despite the lack of any real resources, its a psychological masterpiece driven by an incredibly disturbing organ soundtrack. People have tried to remake this but never to the same effect.

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the great masters of the genre and made many films that deserve consideration, including Psycho. But The Birds (1963) is my favorite of all the scary films Hitch made, and it’s been made all the more disturbing by the recent revelations he used the production to torment the female star, Tippie Hedren, because she refused to submit to his sexual desires.

My favorite director in this genre, however, is Roman Polanski, and his Repulsion (1965) is without doubt one of the most disturbing psychological experiences of my life, the first real immersion into the world of psychosis.

It doesn’t take a big budget to make a great horror film, and that’s been proven over and over. I don’t really care for the slasher films and gore is not my bag, and in a way I guess this film got a lot of that trend going, but today it seems super tame in that regard. Night of the Living Dead (1968) was an original update on the zombie film.

I don’t know why The Tenant (1976) doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Although I enjoyed the basic horror melodrama Rosemary’s Baby, I found this film far more psychologically interesting, exploring concepts of psychic possession and split personality syndrome in a highly original manner. One of the most under celebrated films you’ll ever see.

The Shining (1980) was strangely uncelebrated when it came out, although I found it to be one of the scariest films I ever sat through, a real descent into madness even more powerful than Polanski’s Repulsion. It did eventually attain the status it deserves and now serves as a launching pad for numerous rabbit holes and disinfo stories, so great is its resonance on the telepathic plane.

Talk about psychologically disturbing, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)  set a new bar in that regard. Proving once again that big budgets don’t necessarily make for big horror, director John McNaughton fashioned this masterpiece on a measly $100,000 budget. The film launched a few careers and deservedly so. And I should add I’ve known John since high school and recruited him into my band The Soul Assassins in 1988 in New York City to play organ.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is a wonderful merger of fantasy and horror and seems to owe a ton of inspiration to The Shining, especially the ending. Of all horror films released in the last few decades, this one really stands out as my favorite.

My 10 Favorite Science Fiction Films

In Victorian times, a woman’s ultimate fear was to grow up and find herself married off to some inhuman beast, a deep-rooted fear expressed through novels like Jane Eyre. But in the 1950s, a similar meme began expressing for young teens, and no film expressed this meme more powerfully than Invaders From Mars (1953), a film that cast a shadow over those strange goings-on in the world of adults. I viewed this film as a second grader on a black-and-white in the den of our home outside Boston. I was home sick with a fever, which just intensified the experience immensely. I soon had many dreams inspired by this film, a sure indication of its power in the telepathic plane. Strangely, you almost never see it on television, and the British re-edit destroyed the original ending, which was designed to mimic The Wizard of Oz, as the copy at the top of the poster indicates.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) continued along a similar meme, although this time around the protagonist is an adult and aliens are breeding in pods everywhere up and down the West Coast. Science fiction opens up a lot of possibilities in many different styles, from comedy to super realism to fantasy, but the two of the best examples of the genre on my list were both designed as B-grade thrillers on low budgets, but like Night of the Living Dead, managed to scare teens silly and touch a psychic nerve. Strangely, this film suffered the same sad fate as my first film for the scary ending was jettisoned and replaced with a deus ex machina fake ending instead? I hope the latest versions of these films restore the superior endings the directors both intended.

For my tastes, the glory days of science fiction came in the 1980s, and were aided immensely by the emerging use of CGI. By the way, don’t expect to see Avatar on my list as I positively hated that film, and really don’t care for any CGI blood-baths no matter what the genre. Most of the recent science fiction blockbusters have disappointed me for some time, and I consider the genre in decline, although I did love Gravity and would put it on the list except it’s science fact, not fiction. And I think that’s one reason this genre has suffered for nearly forty years. Our culture is advancing so fast the imaginations of writers have difficulty leaping ahead, simply because paradigm shifts are so quick in real life.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) was a game-changer and introduced the super realistic special effects which created something close to a real space ship experience before the advent of CGI. It was a flawed masterpiece, however, simply because the build-up was so great and the ending so weak. Of course, the ending was actually fantastic if you were on LSD at the time and this may have been one of the first Hollywood films people of my generation flocked to while tripping. I don’t recommend synthetics these days, however, so if you want to trip out while watching this, I’d suggest peyote or mushrooms as a much better and safer alternative. And yes, those sacraments will greatly enhance the experience and you won’t even notice the limp ending.

You won’t find Star Wars or Star Trek on my list, or even Dune for that matter. Many of the biggest commercial productions were okay, but this is the top ten so it’s hard to make the cut. However, a low-budget spoof on those films did make it, and it’s seldom celebrated comic masterpiece named for a famous Grateful Dead song, a song that was often a peak moment of their set when a film first appeared called Dark Star (1974). So after going from two thrillers to hyper realism to comedy, the list now enters what I consider the golden age of science fiction.

Alien (1979) was the debut of CGI in a Hollywood science fiction film as far as I know, or something very close. This film took the regular meme of alien possession to much greater realism and theatricality. It was Ridley Scott’s second film and he decided to make it after viewing Star Wars, replacing that film’s light comedy and bloodless battles with a much darker and gorier naturalism.

The Thing (1982) was similar to Alien in some ways, except the location was not a space ship far from earth, but the ice-cold Antarctic. In this thriller, the alien is a shape-shifter who can instantly inhabit anyone and remain undetected. The isolated team is swiftly traumatized and and seeks to determine who may be an alien among them.

Of course Philip K. Dick was a game changer in this genre and a big inspiration to the cyberpunk and cypherpunk movements, but Dick didn’t arrive on the Hollywood scene until Ridley Scott made Blade Runner (1982), although the original story was titled: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Arnold wasn’t very cool until this film came out, but who knew he could be perfectly cast as a robotic killing machine devoid of human emotions? I have to wonder if some of our current school shooters aren’t channeling his character somehow. Meanwhile, Hollywood keeps making the sappiest of robot films, many of which are animated and incredibly maudlin and hardly worth watching, while this gory masterpiece still holds up. The Terminator (1984) is the name of the film.

It’s not often that the sequel is better than the original, but that happened with Aliens (1986). It’s notable that films by Ridley Scott anchor and define this great era in film. Sir Ridley rules the genre more than any other director. I hope he returns to the genre soon as I haven’t really loved any of his films since Black Hawk Down.

The French, like the British, have made many attempts to jump into the science fiction genre over the years, although many of the French productions have been somewhat comic and campy. This film follows in that tradition with the notable addition of advanced CGI. This film was a massive commercial success while receiving mixed reviews. If you haven’t seen The Fifth Element (1997), I suggest you check it out. It doesn’t have the somber nihilism of British films like 1984, but I find it much more entertaining.

The 10 Greatest Western Films of All-Time

The Wild West was certainly a key focus of my youthful imagination, as a cowboy outfit was my first Halloween costume and I had a pair of cap guns before I reached the first grade. Nothing was more exciting than going out to see a Western movie.

Our national psyche was shaped through a Western mythology, first in the tabloid presses and periodicals, and then through film and television. At least it was this way for the boys of my generation.
Even though the first real narrative film made was a Western, the genre was mostly relegated to the B-grade teams. John Ford was the master who elevated it to A-grade, and started that evolution with his first Western with sound, Stagecoach (1939).

There was something truly primal about the story of 9 people cast adrift in a dangerous wilderness and having to shack up in a lonely outpost surrounded by hostile forces. This film was so influential the Beatles drummer took his name from the lead character.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), tells the story of two partners, one descending into madness, the other redeemed through good deeds. Part western, part thriller, this is naturalism at its finest, meaning the forces of mother nature dwarf the energies of man.

The Searchers (1956), is John Ford’s greatest masterpiece and a much more mature effort than his trail-blazing Stagecoach. Obsessions collide across an immense wilderness as the complex plot unfolds, investigating some uncomfortable issues involving racism, cultural survival and revenge. This may have put the primary meme into the minds of a generation because in ten years many of us would soon be hitchhiking west in search of cultural meaning.

Gunfight at OK Corral (1957) represents the height of romanticism and an epic gun battle, and is probably best viewed on a giant monitor. I haven’t watched this in a long time, so I don’t know how well it holds up, but I always felt one of its greatest values was its restraint. Although the actual battle in real life lasted only a matter of seconds, John Sturges was able to build up to it with the help of an outstanding musical score, and his version of the fight itself was fairly realistic and little like the gory battles of today.
true-grit-movie-poster-1969-1020167547Everything seems to move in waves, and just like 1939 produced an incredible explosion of amazing films, something special happened with Westerns in 1969. Maybe it was the last gasp of a dying genre, but three of the greatest appeared over the course of a few months. The plastic phony Western of television and early 1960’s films were rejected suddenly and realism returned, or at least more realistic outfits and characters. True Grit (June 11, 1969) was the first of these to appear.

The Wild Bunch (June 18, 1969) was violence unleashed, the good-guy bad-guys go bad then good, then shoot up the place big-time. I’m sure Quentin Tarantino must have loved this film and I know a lot of violence junkies who got off watching it over and over. But it’s truly a classic Western in many ways, shades of a return to the O.K. Corral. And as the Western has evolved, it gets harder and harder to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (October 24, 1969) A final ode to romanticism, and perhaps the first modern woman’s western? Loosely based on the real story, this comic buddy tale involves a seldom-seen female lead in a genre completely dominated by men, although in truth, Butch likely returned to the USA and lived a quite life of quiet anonymity nothing like the end described here, but that’s another Western that didn’t make the list. But if romantic comedies are not your cup of tea and you want something with more of an edge, try McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971).

Little Big Man (1970) was the first post-modern western and a tragicomic masterpiece. Not many Westerns were told from the point of view of a Native perspective and this is one of the few. The film turned the genre upside down because we had to deal with the savagery inflicted upon Native culture from their own perspective. Some may prefer the maudlin Dances With Wolves in this regard, but that film doesn’t even come close to my top ten.

Lonesome Dove (1989), was a return to realism in epic splendor, and shows the value of having a great researcher-writer. This story was actually supposed to be made decades earlier with John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, which would have been amazing. Thankfully, Larry McMurtry didn’t give up on the project and eventually saw it through to fruition to immense success. Not really a movie, but a miniseries, nonetheless it transformed the genre.

Maybe you thought I was going to pick Django Unchained as my final choice? To be honest, I haven’t even seen it yet, but I much prefer the Coen Brothers to Quentin anyway. I didn’t know what to think when they said they were going to re-make one of my top ten Westerns, but I was impressed with the results, as well as the effort to remain as historically accurate as possible. Released in 2010.