Harry Carey Jr. (left), John Wayne Photography: Warner Bros.
Harry Carey Jr. (left), John Wayne            Photography: Warner Bros.

Jeff Bridges, Val Kilmer also are saddling up for action this week.

Here’s our weekly overview of choice options for home-screen viewing. (Note: All times listed are Eastern.)

True Grit (2010)

Some diehard John Wayne fans likely will never forgive Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) for daring to remake the much-loved 1969 western that enabled The Duke to claim his only Academy Award. But, truth to tell, this more darkly eccentric but equally entertaining  version is appreciably more faithful to Charles Portis’ 1968 novel, which served as source material for both films. And Jeff Bridges, gamely filling in for Wayne, earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as Rooster Cogburn, the cantankerous one-eyed lawman who agrees to help young Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld in her big-screen debut) track down the varmint who killed her father. “Jeff Bridges is not playing the John Wayne role,” critic Roger Ebert insisted in his 2010 review. “He's playing the Jeff Bridges role — or, more properly, the role created in the enduring novel by Charles Portis, much of whose original dialogue can be heard in this film. Bridges doesn't have the archetypal stature of the Duke. Few ever have. But he has here, I believe, an equal screen presence. We always knew we were looking at John Wayne in the original True Grit (1969). When we see Rooster Cogburn in this version, we're not thinking about Jeff Bridges.” (5:30 pm Monday and 2:30 pm Tuesday, AMC)

Valdez is Coming (1971)

When Mexican-American lawman Bob Valdez (Burt Lancaster) seeks compensation from wealthy Anglo landowner Frank Tanner (Jon Cypher) for the widow of a murder suspect killed on Tanner’s behalf, the landowner orders his flunkies to brutally beat and humiliate the aging constable. This is a big mistake. When asked about this violent western based on his novel of the same name, Elmore Leonard told C&I in 2007: “I was surprised they were able to get away with the ending. I mean, there’s no final gunfight [between Valdez and Tanner]. Even the studio couldn’t believe it. But they let [director Edwin Sherin] do it anyway.” (9:55 pm Wednesday, Encore Westerns)

Thunderheart (1992)

Directed by Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter) and co-produced by Robert De Niro, this ambitious cross-cultural thriller stars Val Kilmer as Raymond Levoi (Val Kilmer), a bright new star in the FBI constellation who’s assigned to investigate the murder of an Oglala Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Levoi gets the job in large part because he is one-fourth American Indian, a fact he has spent most of his life denying.  Once he lands in South Dakota, however, he returns to his roots. Or, to be more precise, he's dragged back to his roots, relentlessly tugged by an aged medicine man (Ted Thin Elk) and a tribal police officer (Graham Greene of Dances with Wolves). Before long, Levoi is rebelling against the no-nonsense command of his FBI superior (Sam Shepard), and following his bliss into mystical visions of brave, beleaguered Native American warriors. Kilmer and Shepard are in top form here, but the film’s most memorable performances come from Greene as the cynical tribal cop who's true to his heritage, and the always reliable Fred Ward (The Right Stuff) as a corrupt tribal leader who's more than willing to scalp his own people. (9 pm Friday, getTV)

The Searchers (1956)

Sure, we know: You’ve already seen John Ford’s classic western. But, really, wouldn’t you love to watch it again? And maybe ask someone who’s never seen it to join you? As we noted in our recent celebration of the movie’s 60th anniversary: John Wayne “gives one of his finest and most complex performances here as Ethan Edwards, a former Confederate soldier who returns to Texas in 1868 after a string of post-Civil War misadventures… At first, Ethan is greeted with open arms by his brother, Aaron (Walter Coy), who lives with his family — wife Martha (Dorothy Jordan), son Ben (Robert Lyndon), daughters Lucy (Pippa Scott) and Debbie (Lana Wood) — on a remote homestead in an area where Indian raids are common. Gradually, however, long-simmering tensions between the two brothers bubble to the surface. More important, it becomes increasingly clear, to the audience if not to Aaron, that Martha secretly loves her errant brother-in-law. Ethan’s own feelings are indirectly revealed when, after he returns from a hunt for stolen cattle, he finds Aaron, Martha, and Ben have been massacred — and Lucy and Debbie have been abducted — by marauding Comanches. Fearing a fate worse than death for his nieces, Ethan gives chase, accompanied by Marty (Jeffrey Hunter), a ‘half-breed’ orphan raised to adulthood by Aaron, and Brad (Harry Carey Jr.), Lucy’s boyfriend. Early on, Lucy is found slain, and Brad dies while trying to avenge her. But Ethan and Marty survive to continue their quest for several years — for very different reasons.” (4 pm Saturday, TCM)

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