Photography: Warner Bros.
Photography: Warner Bros.

Also on tap this week: Gary Cooper in “High Noon”

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

High Noon (1952)

Gary Cooper received a richly deserved Oscar for his performance in director Fred Zinnemann’s classic drama as Will Kane (Gary Cooper), a man forced to confront vengeful figures from his past on the very day he plans to begin a bright future with his new bride. For years, Will has been the well-respected marshal of Hadleyville, doing his best to turn a lawless Wild West town into an oasis of rectitude and family values. When we first see him, he on the verge of turning in his badge and tying the knot with Amy (Grace Kelly), a notably younger Quaker lady who wants her new husband to adopt a pacifistic approach to life.  But just before the newlyweds can depart on their honeymoon, Will gets bad news: Frank Miller, a surly killer Will helped send to prison years ago, is on his way back to Hadleyville to settle accounts with the lawman. Three of his gun-slinging goons are waiting at the depot, waiting for Frank to arrive on the noon train. Being a reasonable fellow, Will initially agrees with the townspeople who suggest that he and Amy should skedaddle out of town. Not far from Hadleyville, however, our hero feels compelled to turn his buggy around and head back home because — well, you know, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. (8:50 am Thursday, Encore Westerns)

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks’ hilarious western spoof spins the story of Black Bart (Cleavon Little), an “uppity” black railroad worker who’s saved from the gallows and shipped off to be the sheriff of a frontier town by Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman), a crooked state attorney general. Lamarr figures, rightly, that the small-minded, all-white populace of Rock Ridge will be so hostile to a black lawman that citizens won’t come to his aid once the shooting starts, making it all the easier for Lamarr and his underlings to chase off the townspeople and seize their land. But Bart gets invaluable assistance from an unlikely source: Jim (Gene Wilder), a.k.a. The Waco Kid, a boozy yet oddly blissful gunslinger who manages, despite his prodigious alcoholic intake, to draw so fast that no one — not Bart, not Lamarr’s henchmen, not even the audience — can see him take his gun out of his holster. (10:30 pm Friday, Turner Classic Movies)

Destry Rides Again (1939)

James Stewart made the first of many memorable appearances as a Wild West hero in director George Marshall’s seriocomic classic about a pacifist protagonist who reluctantly straps on his guns to enforce the law. Newly hired deputy Tom Destry Jr. (Stewart), the son of a famously straight-shooting lawman, wants to avoid gunplay while cleaning up corruption in the town of Bottleneck. But he’s not so inflexible that he won’t try Plan B when the bad guys refuse to cooperate. And he’s not so virtuous that he’s entirely immune to the charms of Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich), the cynical saloon singer who musically encourages the barkeep to “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have.” (11:45 am Saturday, Starz Encore)

Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

Directed by Walter Hill (Broken Trail, 48 HRS.) and co-written by John Milius (Apocalypse Now), this well-crafted western (reportedly a favorite of Quentin Tarantino) takes a largely admiring view of the eponymous Apache warrior (well played by Wes Studi). Indeed, even those charged with capturing Geronimo and his comrades —including grizzled scout Al Sieber (Robert Duvall) and novice Cavalry lieutenant Britton Davis (Matt Damon) — admit to respecting him. At one point, Duvall’s Sieber memorably expresses unbridled contempt for white bounty hunters who slaughter Native Americans: “They kill any Indian, then claim they're Apache. I don't see how any man can sink that low. Must be Texans – lowest form of white man there is.” (8 pm Saturday, getTV)

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