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Top 5 Westerns of the '80s

Silverado Do you love the Westerns of the '80s? I don't, but today's blogger is loco for them. Michelle Cunningham, maker of the infamous leg-lamp card, has felt like the nerd crashing the cool kids' party-blog since she started listening to the podcasts last year. That's not stopping the Wisconsin resident from submitting her "Spearsy needs a vacation" blog item, though.

I know big hair wasn't conducive to cowboy hats, and synthesizers overruled swelling string sections, but that doesn't mean the '80s didn't have their fair share of Westerns.

First off, Urban Cowboy (1980) is not a Western, despite the heavy use of Stetsons and rodeo references.

Country music sneaked onto Top 40 pop radio stations in the 1980s with Eddie Rabbitt (I Love a Rainy Night), Dolly Parton (9 to 5) and Kenny Rogers (Lady). Rogers took the opportunity to turn his song The Gambler into a made-for-TV movie with the inspired title of Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (1980). He followed that up with the even more uninspired title Kenny Rogers as The Gambler: The Adventure Continues in 1983.

So here is where I submit a list that Steve wouldn't touch -- Memorable Westerns from the '80s -- and wait for the mockery to begin.


5. ¡THREE AMIGOS! (1986): John Landis directed the Steve Martin-Lorne Michaels-penned comedy. Back when Chevy Chase was still funny, he teamed up with Martin and Martin Short for the mistaken identity caper. With this much talent on the screen, you would think it would be remembered for more than the trio's hip-thrusting introduction. [Watch it]

4. YOUNG GUNS (1988): The Western version of the Brat Pack featured Emilio Estevez as Billy the Kid, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen as well as Dermot Mulroney and Casey Siemaszko. A kind-of The Lost Boys, only during daylight with lots of dust and gunfire. Faces to look for: Terence Stamp, Jack Palance and a pre-Lost Terry O'Quinn. Young Guns is probably best known for its connection to Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive (supposedly the inspiration for the film). For 1990's Young Guns II, Jon Bon Jovi recorded the theme song, Blaze of Glory, and the rest of the soundtrack. [Watch it]

3. PALE RIDER (1985): Before Clint Eastwood's Academy Award-winning Unforgiven, there was Pale Rider, the story of the mysterious stranger who speaks the words of  God and shoots like an outlaw. Even with its religious overtones, it is a classic Western story of fighting injustice. Faces to look for: Sydney Penny, who played the young Rachel Ward in The Thorn Birds; Michael Moriarty, Chris Penn and Richard Kiel (Jaws from Moonraker).

2. LONESOME DOVE (1989): Back when a TV miniseries could honestly earn the "epic" moniker, CBS televised the four-part, Emmy Award-winning production based on Larry McMurtry's novel. The stellar cast featured Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as former Texas Rangers leading one last cattle drive. Their barbs belie their deep friendship. If you can watch the ending without sobbing, your heart must be as dried out as a lost steer on the high desert plains. Faces to look for: Our '80s sweetheart Diane Lane; Robert Urich; D.B. Sweeney; and Rick (not Ricky) Schroder in one of his first post-"Silver Spoons" roles. [Watch it]

1. SILVERADO (1985): Lawrence Kasdan directed the star-studded buddy movie that includes the man trying to live down his past (Kevin Kline), the goofball (Kevin Costner), the villainous sheriff (Brian Dennehy) and the saloon keeper with a heart of gold (Linda Hunt). Some of the one-off characters (John Cleese and Jeff Goldblum) provide some of the best comic relief. Costner is fun to watch before he started taking himself so seriously. The role also was payback from Kasdan from cutting Costner from The Big Chill. His silliness is balanced by the tightly wound Scott Glenn, who portrays his brother. The ensemble cast is amazing, but the film becomes a classic with the rousing score by Bruce Broughton (Quincy, The Ice Pirates). [Watch it]

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:45pm]


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