The Best Western Movie Gunfights

Gary Cooper in High Noon

Someone once asked me on “Ask the Marshall” what I considered Hollywood’s best western gunfights.

I chose “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Wild Bunch,” “The Magnificent Seven,” and “High Noon.” There are dozens of great gunfight scenes but I chose these because they represent a variety of situations.

The gunfights in “The Magnificent Seven,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Wild Bunch” are classic films that pit a small number of reckless and bold men against impossible odds. In one, a few survive to fight another day and in the other two, all die with their boots on.

In “High Noon,” three hard men arrive in town to await their leader, Frank Miller’s arrival on the noon train. Gary Cooper, as ex-marshal Will Kane, sent Miller to prison and now the outlaw and his friends have come for revenge. The marshal is abandoned by the townfolk of Hadleyville, Kansas and must stand alone against the four desperados. The classic gunfight defines the genre, pitting the good guy, standing alone, vulnerable, and outnumbered, against the forces of evil. It’s been copied many times but remains one of the best.     Since we have a “Comments” section on this site how about hearing from some of you. Got any favorites?

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian, board president of the Arizona Historical Society and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu