Let’s go in order
20. RED RIVER
Get used to seeing John Wayne on a list of great Westerns. Only Clint Eastwood is as synonymous with Westerns as the Duke, and legendary director Howard Hawks’ 1948 Red RIVER gave him one of his best characters to play. As bull-headed Tom Dunson, Wayne is an Texas cattle rancher who stakes a bold claim for his land only to fall on hard times in the years following the Civil War. With the help of his adopted son Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift), he sets out on a desperate cattle drive to Missouri.
Wayne’s Dunson becomes more and more tyrannical, prompting Clift’s Matt to split off and lead a separate drive, leading to a showdown between the father and son. Red River contains one of the classic Western movie moments, as Wayne says “Take ’em to Missouri, Matt!” Hawks follows that with the famous montage of the various cowboys, waving their hats in the air and yelling “Yee-haw!” It’s such an iconic moment that the several homages to it included in City Slickers never cross into parody.
19. THE NAKED SPUR. 1953
Jimmy Stewart is perhaps best known for his roles in movies like The Philadelphia Story and It’s A Wonderful Life, which helped define his on-screen persona as an essentially decent Everyman. He would appear in many different Westerns throughout his career, but the five films he made with German director Anthony Mann feature a darker approach to this persona. The best of these is arguably 1953’s The Naked Spur, with Stewart starring as a bounty hunter named Howard Kemp.
While hunting down a murderer (a vicious Robert Ryan) for the reward on his head, Kemp enlists the help of an old prospector and a young soldier. When the villain is captured, the head games begin, as the killer has a young girl under his spell and uses her to pit all the others against each other. The movie turns into a kind of psychological thriller, as Kemp’s demons push him nearly over the edge. It’s one of the darkest, most fascinating Westerns ever made.
18. A FISTFUL OD DOLLARS 1964
Made on a low budget and originally released in Italy in 1964, director Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars gave Clint Eastwood his first starring role and introduced his “Man with No Name” character. Essentially a Western remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, Eastwood’s character wanders into the middle of a feud between two factions fighting over control of a small Mexican border town. Then he pits the Rojo brothers against crooked Sheriff John Baxter’s gang, playing both sides off of each other to make as much money as he can.
Leone’s plots would become more intricate, but with A Fistful of Dollars, Leone reinvented a genre he believed had become stagnant while giving the world a striking new cinematic language for the Western. The film’s success led to the birth of the spaghetti Western sub-genre, which would include Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Django, Tarantino’s inspiration for Django Unchained.
17. THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY. 1962
John Wayne and director John Ford’s legendary collaboration spanned 24 films, many of them classics. 1962’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was one of their last together, and is considered the director’s last great film. Senator Ransom Stoddard (Jimmy Stewart) returns to the frontier town of Shinbone for the funeral of farmer Tom Doniphon (Wayne) and in an extended flashback, we learn how Stoddard breezed into town as an idealistic lawyer who stands up to the vile criminal Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) and is badly beaten for his trouble.
After toying with Stoddard, Valance nearly kills him in their inevitable confrontation, but Stoddard seems to shoot him dead. It was Doniphon who actually pulled the trigger, of course, in order to secure the happiness of the woman who chose Stoddard over him. As movies like Unforgiven and The Assassination of Jesse James would later explore, “When the legend has become fact, print the legend.”
In The Hateful Eight, Kurt Russell seems to be channeling John Wayne, but 1993’s Tombstone finds him taking on the role of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. The story of Earp and his brothers and their shootout at the O.K. Corral with the Clanton gang is the stuff of legend and has been adapted many times, with actors like Henry Fonda, Burt Lancaster and Kevin Costner having taken on the role in various films. For a generation of fans, however, it is Russell’s Earp – and Val Kilmer’s scene-stealing Doc Holliday – that stands out.
Like every other depiction of the famous shootout, Tombstone takes plenty of liberties with the history, but by now the legend has essentially become fact. The movie is brash and entertaining, with Russell giving a strong and forthright portrayal of Earp, the retired lawman who is drawn into the conflict with the Clantons. The supporting cast is excellent, and while Kilmer walks off with his scenes as the borderline unhinged gambler and killer Doc Holliday, the film features the likes of Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Rooker and long-time Western veteran actor Harry Carey, Jr. In a time which saw sweeping, epic dramas with Western backdrops and trappings (Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall), Tombstone was a proudly traditional throwback.
15. The Wild Bunch. 1969
The Wild Bunch follows a gang of old and worn-out outlaws in 1913, played by genre veterans like Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and Robert Ryan. William Holden’s Pike Bishop leads his gang in the robbery of a railroad office, only to be ambushed by Ryan, his former partner who now leads a band of bounty hunters. The pointlessness of all the death and destruction and hollow betrayals become recurring themes in the film.
Director Sam Peckinpah’s tale of an aging band of outlaws seeking a final score after a double-cross presaged Tarantino’s ultra-violent Westerns and served as something of an elegy for a generation of old-fashioned genre stars. It caused quite a controversy when first released and, for years, it was unavailable in it’s uncut, 144 minute form. The complete version adds a great deal of character background and motivation, giving Holden’s Pike more dimension. Peckinpah’s film features striking violence, a brand of hopelessness not often found in a Western, and his use of slow-motion and multi-angle editing techniques were revolutionary for the time.
14. McCabe & Mrs. Miller .1971
The Western genre is traditionally all about confrontation, either literally in the form of brawls, shootouts and gunfighter showdowns or figuratively as characters with large personalities spend their time trying to outwit or intimidate each other. With this in mind, Robert Altman’s 1971 McCabe & Mrs. Miller has been called an “anti-Western” due to how Warren Beatty’s dandified gambler McCabe often talks his way out of a fight.
After arriving in a mining town in the Pacific Northwest in 1902, McCabe quickly establishes a brothel, and when Julie Christie’s Mrs. Miller arrives shortly thereafter, the two become business partners. When McCabe refuses a buyout from a ruthless mining company, they send three bounty hunters to kill him. Altman’s naturalistic style, complemented by the Leonard Cohen songs on the soundtrack, was arguably a major influence on modern-era takes on the genre, such as HBO’s Deadwood.
13. Shane. 1953
In director George Stevens’ 1953 Shane, the title character (Alan Ladd) is a mysterious gunslinger who arrives in a small valley town in Wyoming. Shane attempts to stay out of the troubles brewing between family of homesteaders (Van Heflin and Jean Arthur) and a repellent cattle baron (Emile Meyer) who wants to drive them off their land, but in true Western fashion he gets drawn into the fight.
Shane ends up saving the day, defeats the cattle baron’s gang and rides bleeding out of town. The audience and the homesteaders never learn anything about him, and the little boy crying “Shane! Come back!” as the possibly dead gunslinger rides away is one of the most iconic scenes in American cinema. Much of Shane features idealized versions of a frontier America that probably never existed, from the famous landscape to the forthright townspeople to the apple pie. The lone gunslinger model perfected in Shane is one which directors like Sergio Leone would upend but never reduce.
12. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid 1969
As Italians were busy reinventing the Western, legendary screenwriter William Goldman was pioneering a whole new tone for the genre. Director George Roy Hill just barely avoids injecting too much self-awareness while creating a world around the charismatic central performances of Paul Newman as Butch and Robert Redford as Sundance, roles which propelled them to the status of superstars.
Goldman’s script took the real-life pair of famous outlaws and added a 1960’s-era subtext to their exploits – both outlaws call Katherine Ross’s Etta their girlfriend, for instance. The film might be one of the funniest Westerns ever made, revolving around the famous chemistry between Redford and Newman. As Butch and Sundance lose their gang, try to go straight and end up surrounded by the Bolivian army, they handle a tough spot the same way every time: by never talking about the present. As in The Wild Bunch, they are outlaws whose place in the world is fading, but their grim gallows humor sets them apart and made them film legends.
11. Unforgiven. 1992
Clint Eastwood’s celebrated and prolific career as a star and director has spanned decades and several different genres, but 1992’s Unforgiven marks his final Western and arguably his finest. Eastwood’s William Munny is a reformed killer who has become a pious farmer. After losing his wife and falling on hard times, Munny accepts one last job from the upstart, too-ambitious Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) and reunites with his old partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman). They follow the Kid as he hunts down a pair of cowboys on the behalf of an abused prostitute in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a town run by Sheriff Little Bill Daggett (the towering Gene Hackman).
Unforgiven examines the toll a lifetime of killing has taken on Munny, who discovers he doesn’t have a stomach for such violence anymore. Meanwhile, Blade Runner screenwriter David Webb Peoples’ script breaks down many Western myths (shades of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) in the form of the pulp magazine writer (Saul Rubinek) who follows around gunslinger English Bob (Richard Harris), an old rival of Little Bill’s and also on the trail of the reward. Eastwood’s Munny claims to be a changed man, but it doesn’t seem to ring true. His final rampage against Little Bill is a savage display of violence and an act of retribution which sees Munny embrace his true nature one last time before giving it up for good.
10 .The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. 1966
Sergio Leone caps off his “Man with No Name” trilogy with 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, famous for it’s immortal theme by Ennio Morricone and the movie just may represent the spaghetti Western subgenre in its peak form. The sprawling plot finds Eastwood’s “Blondie” (the “Good”), Eli Wallach’s Tuco (the “Ugly”) and Lee Van Cleef’s Sentenza (the “Bad) all competing to find a buried cache of Confederate gold during the background chaos of the Civil War in 1862.
Cited by Quentin Tarantino as “the best directed film of all time,” The Good, the Bad and the Ugly follows a long and winding story of double-crosses, one-upsmanship and duels as Leone hones his cinematic language of using long takes and close-ups to build tension. The three desperados all need each other alive just long enough to find the gold… and then all bets are off. The movie transcends its genre to become the monumental Western that directors like Tarantino are still chipping away at.
9. The Magnificent Seven .1960
The great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films were such fertile ground for Westerns that before Sergio Leone mined Yojimbo for A Fistful of Dollars, John Sturges had already turned The Seven Samurai into 1960’s The Magnificent Seven. Kurosawa was so impressed that he gifted Sturges with a samurai sword. Indeed, the tale of a Mexican village hiring a gunslinger (Yul Brynner) – who hires six more gunmen of varying personalities – to help protect them from marauders has proven to be such a resilient premise that it spawned a short-lived television series and yet another upcoming remake starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt.
Few other Westerns capture the confrontational spirit as well as The Magnificent Seven and it’s combative ensemble. As with Red River‘s “Yee-haw!” scene, The Magnificent Seven‘s basic plot has been co-opted time and again, as seen in the comedy Three Amigos! which again celebrates this plot without diminishing it. Beyond the rousing Elmer Bernstein score and vibrant cinematography and direction, part of the fun is watching a young Steve McQueen steal all his scenes without any dialogue or direction, just to show up star Yul Brynner.
8.High Noon 1952
If Westerns are all about confrontation, then director Fred Zinneman’s 1952 High Noon is one of the genre’s high-water marks. As played out in near real-time, Gary Cooper’s Will Kane is a former marshal who has just turned in his badge and married the pacifist Quaker Amy (Grace Kelly). A criminal named Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), put away by Will and sentenced to hang, has been exonerated through a technicality and he and his gang is headed toward Will’s town of Hadleyville with nothing but revenge on their mind.
High Noon is a pressure cooker of a Western, and is often regarded as more of a 1950s melodrama than a straight genre piece. Cooper’s Will Kane grows more and more desperate as he pleads for help from his fellow townspeople and is denied at every turn. He ends up having to face Miller and his gang alone, and while Amy’s devotion to Will ends up saving his life, the former marshal feels so betrayed by his cowardly former friends that he tosses his badge away in disgust. High Noon‘s powerful subtext faces the reality of confrontation itself: if you rely on others and they fail you, what do you have left, and where do you stand..
7.The Searchers 1956
The great John Ford directed John Wayne in more than just Westerns – 1952’s The Quiet Man is an example of both of them at their best, with not a saloon or cowboy to be found. In The Searchers however, Ford explores the darker parts of Wayne’s onscreen persona in ways that would rarely (if ever) be revisited again. The film contains some of the most gorgeous and widely-poached shots of any movie in history, but Wayne’s Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards was a challenging central character when the film was released and remains so today.
An unrepentant former Confederate, Edwards is a wanderer to gives himself a sense of purpose after Comanches murder his brother’s family and abduct his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood). With the help of the part-Comanche Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), Edwards spends five years searching for Debbie – in order to kill her. The twisted personal quest at the core of the story is fascinating, and while the film never hides Edwards’ anti-Native American attitude, watching Wayne as he finds his niece (after killing and scalping the Comanche who had her for so long) remains incredibly tense. He scoops her up and says “Let’s go home,” but the question remains: does this really redeem him? The Searchers is possibly the darkest popular Western ever made.
6.The Outlaw Josey Wales 1976
Love, hate, revenge, forgiveness, sorrow, life, death, emargination, racism, the uselessness of war, betrayal, redemption, solidarity, friendship. Not many films manage to deal competently with even just one of these topics. This masterpiece deals with all. Within the first 4 or 5 minutes (even before the opening credits) one has already been exposed to more force and emotion than most films can pack up in 90 minutes.
By the end of the 2 hrs 10 minutes of this film one would have lived through tour-de-force highlighted by memorable climaxes and showdowns featuring some of the most striking dialogue in cinematic history… “dying ain’t no way to make a living”. Eastwood’s character doesn’t speak much but utters a handful of memorable lines.
The central character played by Eastwood is given fine support by an excellent ensemble cast including Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney and most of all John Vernon. John Vernon plays a character called Fletcher who turns out to be one of the most complex characters I have ever come across. His motivations and true intentions are never quite clear. He comes across as a bit of a Judas figure and yet he still retains his humanity as the script and Eastwood as the director never truly judge Fletcher, leaving the viewer to judge for him or herself. Almost every character is memorable and every performance fits in place.
The action is sudden and explosive and not always expected. The film takes many twists and turns, yet every twist is a natural consequence of the situations and characters in the film. Ultimately one is left with a truly rich cinematic experience which should appeal to more than just fans of the Western genre. Its themes of suffering and the consequences of evil acts is still sadly relevant in today’s world – a world in which not all wars are won by the good guys and in which the good are sometimes persecuted by those who win these wars.
When thinking of the best pre-credit sequences ever forget most others… this should be your best bet.
5.Rio Grande .1950
ieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (John Wayne is posted on the Texas frontier with the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment to defend settlers against attacks by marauding Apaches. Colonel Yorke is under considerable pressure due to the Apaches using Mexico as a sanctuary from pursuit, and by a serious shortage of troops in his command. The action of the movie is set in the summer of 1879 (“fifteen years after the Shenandoah”).
Tension is added when Yorke’s son (whom he hasn’t seen in fifteen years), Trooper Jefferson Yorke (Claude Jarman Jr.), is one of 18 recruits sent to the regiment. He had flunked out of West Point but immediately enlisted as a private in the Army. In a private “father-son” meeting in the commanding officer’s tent, Trooper Yorke informs his father that he does not expect, nor want, any special treatment because he is his son. He asks that he be treated like any other soldier—to which the colonel somewhat reluctantly agrees. By his willingness to undergo any test and trial, Jeff is befriended by a pair of older recruits, Travis Tyree (Ben Johnson) (who is on the run from the law) and Daniel “Sandy” Boone (Harry Carey Jr.), who take him under their wings.
4 .The Professionals
n the later years of the Mexican Revolution, wealthy rancher J.W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy) hires four men, all experts in their respective fields, to rescue his kidnapped wife, Maria (Claudia Cardinale), from Jesus Raza (Jack Palance), a former revolutionary leader-turned-bandit.
Henry “Rico” Fardan (Lee Marvin) is a weapons specialist, Bill Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) is an explosives expert, the horse wrangler is Hans Ehrengard (Robert Ryan), and Jake Sharp (Woody Strode) is a traditional Apache scout, skilled with a bow and arrow. Fardan and Dolworth both fought in the early days of the revolution, under the command of Pancho Villa, side by side with Raza and some of his band. They have a high regard for Raza as a soldier, but as cynical professionals, they have no qualms about going up against him now.
After crossing the Mexican border, the team tracks the bandits to their hideout. Along the way, Dolworth rigs explosives to block an escape route. They watch while Raza’s small army captures a government train carrying soldiers and executes all aboard in cold blood. Dolworth explains to Ehrengard that the men on the train were a troop of vicious torturers and killers. He describes how they destroyed a town and killed Fardan’s wife. The professionals follow the captured train to the end of the line and retake it from the bandits. Some move on to the bandit camp to observe Raza and his followers — including a female soldier, Chiquita (Marie Gomez) — and to implement a plan to rescue Maria from the camp. Come nightfall, the professionals put their plan into action. Ehrengard stays with the train, which will be their means of escape. Dolworth uses dynamite to blow up the water tower in the camp. Sharp launches dynamite sticks strapped to his arrows to make it appear the camp is being shelled by a much larger force. Fardan knocks out the machine gun sentry on the roof of the quarters where Maria is being held. Dolworth joins Fardan at Maria’s quarters, and they sneak in together to rescue Maria. Seconds later Raza also enters through another door to the warm embrace of Maria – the two are clearly lovers – leading Dolworth to conclude, “we’ve been had”. The two knock Raza out and force Maria to come with them, but Fardan orders Dolworth not to kill Raza.
3. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral .1957
Released in 1957 and directed by John Sturges, “Gunfight at the OK Corral” stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in a loose adaption of the events that led up to the famous shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881. Rhonda Fleming and Jo Van Fleet are on hand as the protagonists’ respective babes. Earl Holliman is noteworthy as Earp’s deputy in Dodge City while John Ireland plays Johnny Ringo. DeForest Kelley (Bones from Star Trek) has a small role as one of the Earp brothers while a young Dennis Hopper plays Billy Clanton.
This is a dialogue-driven production that reflects the era in which it was made, hokey opening cowboy song and all. If you can acclimate to its ‘world’ there are a lot of rewarding elements, particularly the growing friendship of Wyatt and Doc, which starts out shaky, to say the least. It’s their relationship that anchors the story, which has trouble working up suspense since it takes place in three distant locations—Fort Griffen, Texas; Dodge City, Kansas; and Tombstone, Arizona. By the time the Earp brothers & Holliday relocate to Tombstone there are a mere 50 minutes left in the movie, which means there’s only a small measure of time to establish the villainy of Ike Clanton (Lyle Bettger) & his ‘Cowboys’ outlaw gang and subsequently build-up to the climatic shootout.
Speaking of which, the real Tombstone gunfight only lasted about 30 seconds; here’s it’s 16-times longer at 8 minutes. Most other versions are more accurate on this count, e.g. “Hour of the Gun” (1967) (which, by the way, is Sturges’ sequel to this one, albeit with a different cast and a more accurate gunfight at the OK Corral), “Doc” (1971), “Tombstone” (1993) and “Wyatt Earp” (1994). Speaking of “Tombstone,” one of the reasons it was a hit is because it had well over an hour to build up to the main shootout and did so expertly; “Wyatt Earp” less so, but then “Wyatt” excels in areas that “Tombstone” doesn’t, like mundane realism and exposition on the title character. Besides the anchor of Wyatt and Doc’s relationship “Gunfight at the OK Corral” does try to work-up suspense through a fictitious growing rivalry between Doc and Johnny Ringo.
2.Rio Bravo 1959
If The Searchers is John Wayne at his darkest and most conflicted, Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo is the apex of the onscreen Wayne persona we all know. As Sheriff John T. Chance, Wayne is good-hearted, tough, unquestionably in charge. This was famously Wayne and Hawks’ response to High Noon, a film which angered both the director and star. They felt that the town sheriff wouldn’t go around begging for help, and indeed Wayne’s John Chance accepts only the help of a trusted few after jugging the brother of a prominent rancher for casually murdering a man he didn’t even know. The alcoholic former gunslinger the Dude (Dean Martin), the cool younger gunman Colorado (Ricky Nelson), and the old codger deputy Stumpy (Walter Brennan) are who he trusts.
Rio Bravo moves into a now-classic siege movie model as Chance and his partners hole up in the jail with the killer until the local U.S. marshal can arrive to claim him. The final shootout with the enemy gang is so brilliantly staged and edited that other directors keep stealing from it – John Carpenter essentially remade the film as Assault on Precinct 13. As Roger Ebert points out in his Great Movies essay for Rio Bravo, the premise may be the sturdiest of all Westerns: a brave sheriff takes a stand to defend his town. Rio Bravo represents the classic Western setup at its height, and there is not a wasted moment in it.
AND A MASTERPIECE IN THE FIRST PLACE BY MANY
1. Once Upon a Time in the West. 1968
The film portrays two conflicts that take place around Flagstone, a fictional town in the American Old West: a land battle related to the construction of a railroad, and a mission of vengeance against a cold-blooded killer. A struggle exists for Sweetwater, a piece of land in the desert outside Flagstone which contains the region’s only other water source. The land was bought by Brett McBain (Frank Wolff), who foresaw that the railroad would have to pass through that area, to provide water for the steam locomotives. When crippled railroad tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) learns of this, he sends his hired gun Frank (Henry Fonda) to intimidate McBain to move off the land, but Frank instead kills McBain and his three children, planting evidence to frame the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards). Meanwhile, former prostitute Jill (Claudia Cardinale) arrives at Flagstone from New Orleans, revealing that she is McBain’s new wife and therefore the owner of the land.
The film opens with a mysterious harmonica-playing gunman (Charles Bronson), whom Cheyenne later dubs “Harmonica”, shooting three men sent by Frank to kill him. In a roadhouse on the way to Sweetwater, where he also encounters Mrs. McBain, Harmonica informs Cheyenne that the three gunfighters appeared to be posing as Cheyenne’s men. Cheyenne arrives at Sweetwater soon after and both men seem attracted to Mrs. McBain. Harmonica explains that, according to the contract of sale, she will lose Sweetwater unless the station is built by the time the track’s construction crews reach that point, so Cheyenne puts his men to work building it.
Frank turns against Morton, who wants to make a deal with Mrs. McBain, and immobilizes him under guard on his private train out in the desert. Instead, Mrs. McBain allows Frank to seduce her, seemingly to save her life, and is then forced to sell her property in an auction where Frank’s men intimidate the other bidders. Harmonica disrupts Frank’s plan to keep the price down when he arrives, holding Cheyenne at gunpoint, and makes a much higher bid with the reward money for the wanted Cheyenne. But as Cheyenne is placed on a train bound for the Yuma prison, two members of his gang purchase one-way tickets for the train, intending to help him escape.
Morton now pays Frank’s men to turn against him. However, Harmonica helps Frank kill them by directing his attention to their whereabouts from the room where Mrs. McBain is taking a bath. On Frank’s return to Morton’s train, he finds that Morton and his remaining men have been killed in a battle with Cheyenne’s gang. Frank then goes to Sweetwater to confront Harmonica. On two occasions, Frank has asked him who he is, but both times Harmonica only answered with names of men “who were alive before they knew you”. This time, Harmonica says he will reveal who he is “only at the point of dying”.
As the two prepare for a gun duel, Harmonica’s motive is revealed in a flashback. A younger Frank forces a boy to support his older brother on his shoulders, while his brother’s neck is in a noose strung from an arch. As the boy struggles to hold his brother’s weight, Frank stuffs a harmonica into the panting boy’s mouth. The older brother curses Frank, and the boy (who will grow up to be Harmonica) collapses to the ground. Back in the present, Harmonica draws first and shoots Frank. He then stuffs his harmonica into the dying Frank’s mouth as a reminder.
At the house again, Harmonica and Cheyenne say goodbye to Mrs. McBain, who is supervising the construction of the railway station as the track-laying crews reach Sweetwater. As the two men ride off, Cheyenne falls, admitting that he was mortally wounded by Morton during the fight with Frank’s gang. While Harmonica rides away with Cheyenne’s dead body, the work train arrives and Mrs. McBain carries water to the rail workers.