Our weekly guide to viewing options on streaming services.
Once again, we have cast our net wide to round up some of the best movies and TV series available on the most popular platforms. This week, we have selected westerns from Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Tubi.
McLintock! (Amazon Prime)
Aptly described by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin as a “slapstick variation of The Taming of the Shrew set in the Old West,” director Andrew V. McLaglen’s 1963 comedy-drama showcases John Wayne as G.W. McLintock, a swaggering man’s man who’s rich enough to accurately claim he owns “everything in this county from here to there,” and ill-behaved enough to drive his well-bred wife, Katherine (Maureen O’Hara), to establish residency back East. Two years after his wife’s departure — she suspected her husband of infidelity, and he never really denied it — Katherine returns to the territory, and to McClintock’s opulent home, to claim their Eastern-educated daughter, Becky (Stefanie Powers), and to start divorce proceedings. But Becky is in no hurry to leave after she discovers her father’s new ranch hand (Patrick Wayne, The Duke’s son) is appreciably more attractive than her Harvard-educated fiancé (Jerry Van Dyke). And Katherine reconsiders her options after falling in love with “G.W.” all over again — after he chases her through town during the movie’s climactic sequence, and none-too-playfully spanks her.
Quigley Down Under (HBO Max)
Tom Selleck’s only theatrically released western, directed by Simon Wincer (Lonesome Dove), imaginatively transplants the conventions of a Wild West yarn to an Australian setting. Matthew Quigley (Selleck), a sharpshooting good guy, makes the mistake of answering a help-wanted ad by a truth-twisting bad guy (Alan Rickman of Die Hard), a wicked rancher who wants to annihilate Aboriginal people with fair claim on the villain’s land. When Quigley refuses to cooperate, the rancher’s men take our hero and a half-crazed heroine (Laura San Giancomo) out into the Outback, and leave them to die. Not surprisingly, Quigley doesn’t take kindly to this.
Open Range (Hulu)
As grizzled cattle-drivers who ride into danger while resting their herd near a small frontier town, C&I reader favorites Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall are a match made in western movie lovers’ heaven. Duvall is effortlessly authoritative as Boss Spearman, the peaceable senior partner in the enterprise, while Costner (who also served as director) shines as Charley Waite, a man with a history of violence. When they go up against a tyrannical rancher whose goons attacked two members of their small outfit, Waite warns his friend: “Once it starts, it’s gonna be messy like nothing you ever seen.” Not to worry, though: When the chips are down, Spearman’s aim is true. Like a boss.
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), Brigadier General George Crook (Gene Hackman), veteran Cavalry officer Charles Gatewood (Jason Patric), and novice 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.”
Hour of the Gun (Tubi)
James Garner went grim and gritty for Sturges’ revisionist western, a semi-sequel to the filmmaker’s earlier, more romanticized Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). Long after the legendary 1881 shootout, Wyatt Earp (Garner) and buddy Doc Holliday (Jason Robards) continue to clash with Ike Clanton (Robert Ryan) and his murderous flunkies in and around Tombstone, Arizona. For Earp, the peacekeeping process devolves into a personal vendetta after Clanton's men maim one of his brothers and kill another. Garner told Sturges biographer Glenn Lovell that he welcomed the chance to portray the iconic lawman as something more ambiguous than an untarnished hero: “I saw [Wyatt Earp] as a vigilante out for revenge. He was a guy taken with his own power, who nobody could defy. He had no qualms about shooting those boys. I think the movie’s as accurate on that as any that’s been done.”