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Great Westerns Now Streaming on Kanopy

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Great Westerns Now Streaming on Kanopy

great westerns on kanopy

Perhaps the most American of all film genres is the Western, where rugged characters face life-and-death struggles in the vast, unforgiving terrain between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. Though the Westerns of the early and mid-20th Century could often promote simplistic notions of nationalism and morality, the genre has since evolved to explore more nuanced ideas from a greater diversity of perspectives. Below are some notable Western films you can stream for free on Kanopy using your Livingston Library card; to browse Kanopy’s entire collection of Westerns, click here. (Descriptions provided by Kanopy.)

shaneShane (1953, directed by George Stevens)

Acclaimed director George Stevens’ legendary rendition of the quintessential Western myth earned six Academy Award nominations, and made Shane one of the classics of the American cinema. The story brings Alan Ladd, a drifter and retired gunfighter, to the assistance of a homestead family terrorized by a wealthy cattleman and his hired gun (Jack Palance). In fighting the last decisive battle, Shane sees the end of his own way of life. Mysterious, moody and atmospheric, the film is enhanced by the intense performances of its splendid cast.

Johnny Guitar (1954, directed by Nicholas Ray)

Gambling house operator Vienna (Joan Crawford) seeks control of a town as archrival Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge) sets out to force Vienna out of town. The timely arrival of Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) thwarts Emma’s dark plans, but doesn’t prevent a showdown between the women.

The Westerner (1940, directed by William Wyler)

Judge Roy Bean (Walter Brennan), a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinegarroon, Texas, befriends saddle tramp Cole Harden (Gary Cooper), who opposes Bean’s policy against homesteaders.

Rio Grande (1950, directed by John Ford)

In this John Ford classic, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara are embroiled in an epic battle with the Apaches and each other. Lt. Col. Yorke (Wayne) leads his cavalry troops to the Rio Grande to fight a warring tribe. Yorke’s toughest battle lies ahead when his unorthodox plan to outwit the elusive Apaches leads to possible court-martial. Locked in a bloody war, he must fight not only to save his family, but also to redeem his honor.

hud

Hud (1963, directed by Martin Ritt)

This classic revisionist western explores complex familial relationships as well as the pitfalls of modern capitalism by following the daily life of Hud Bannon (Paul Newman), a young Texas rancher who lives with his cattleman father Homer (Melvyn Douglas) and his hero-worshiping nephew Lon (Brandon DeWilde). Though Hud is an amoral, cold-hearted man, he was celebrated as an iconic anti-hero to the countercultural youth audiences of the 1960s.

The Great Silence [Il Grande Silenzio] (1968, directed by Sergio Carbucci)

On an unforgiving, snow swept frontier, a group of bloodthirsty bounty hunters, led by the vicious Loco (Klaus Kinski) prey on a band of persecuted outlaws who have taken to the hills. As the price on each head is collected one-by-one, only a mute gunslinger named Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) stands between the innocent refugees and the greed and corruption that the bounty hunters represent. But, in this harsh, brutal world, the lines between right and wrong aren’t always clear and good doesn’t always triumph. Featuring superb photography and a haunting score from maestro Ennio Morricone, director Sergio Corbucci’s bleak, brilliant and violent vision of an immoral, honorless west is widely considered to be among the very best and most influential Euro-Westerns ever made.

Lonesome Dove (1989, directed by Simon Wincer)

Based upon the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Larry McMurtry and set in the late nineteenth century, this sprawling epic of the Old West is the story of the last defiant frontier, a daring cattle drive, and an undying love. Lonesome Dove was nominated for 18 Emmy Awards, and won seven. It won two Golden Globes including Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.

No Country for Old Men (2007, directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)

Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, acclaimed filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen bring to the screen Cormac McCarthy’s sizzling bestseller with heart stopping thrills. When a man (Josh Brolin) stumbles on a bloody crime scene containing a pickup truck loaded with heroin and two million dollars in irresistible cash, his decision to take the money sets off an unstoppable chain reaction of violence. Also starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Woody Harrelson.

meeks cutoff poster

Meek’s Cutoff (2011, directed by Kelly Reichardt)

In 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, a wagon train of three families hires mountain man Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood) to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert. Over the coming days, lost in the heat, the settlers face hunger, thirst and a lack of faith in each person’s instincts for survival. Four-time Oscar nominee, Michelle Williams leads a strong cast in this dramatic western.

Winter in the Blood (2014, directed by Alex Smith and Andrew Smith)

A hauntingly beautiful film that is true to the lyrical and unflinching spirit of James Welch’s classic 1974 novel of Native American life. Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer) wakes in a ditch on the hardscrabble plains of Montana. He stumbles home to his ranch on the reservation only to learn that his wife, Agnes (Julia Jones), has left him. Worse, she’s stolen his beloved rifle. Virgil sets out to find her, beginning an odyssey of inebriated intrigues with a mysterious “Airplane Man” (David Morse), a beautiful barmaid, and two dangerous Men in Suits. His quixotic, modern-day vision quest moves Virgil ever closer to oblivion until he discovers a long-hidden truth about his identity. But is it too late? Shot in the badlands of Montana, directors Alex and Andrew Smith (The Slaughter Rule) have crafted a gorgeous heartbreaker of a movie, a revisionist Western where the Indians are the Cowboys — set to a high lonesome soundtrack by Heartless Bastards that includes new songs by Robert Plant, Black Prairie and Cass McCombs.

Outlaw Johnny Black (2023, directed by Michael Jai White)

Hell bent on avenging the death of his father, Johnny Black vows to gun down Brett Clayton and becomes a wanted man in the process while posing as a preacher in a small mining town that’s been taken over by a notorious Land Baron.

Joe, Adult Services & Acquisitions

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