Before he joined the NYPD for Blue Bloods, the C&I reader favorite rode tall in westerns.
Most TV viewers know him best for the original Magnum, P.I. or, more recently, Blue Bloods. But for C&I readers, Tom Selleck will always be a man of the west. Here are some of his best westerns, all available on streaming platforms. Just click on the titles to see where to find them.
Selleck earned his spurs in this leisurely paced but dramatically satisfying two-part drama based on two novels — The Daybreakers and Sackett — by the great Louis L’Amour. Three Tennessee brothers — Tell (Sam Elliott), Orrin (Selleck) and Jeff Sackett (Jeff Osterhage) — head West after the Civil War, hoping to make their fortune and, if they’re lucky, avoid trouble. But trouble goes looking for them when they become embroiled in a land dispute between Mexicans and Anglos in Santa Fe. The terrific supporting cast includes such notables as Glenn Ford, Ben Johnson, Gilbert Roland, Jack Elam and Slim Pickens.
Three years after they rode together in The Sacketts, Selleck reunited with Sam Elliott and Ben Johnson for a second (but unrelated) Louis L’Amour adaptation. Two brothers (Selleck, Elliott) break their rascally uncle (Johnson) out of prison to help them find their kidnapped siblings, who have been taken prisoner by a slave-trading ex-Confederate officer (Geoffrey Lewis). The action is satisfyingly fast and furious under the direction of veteran Western filmmaker Andrew V. McLaglen (McClintock!).
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.
Arguably the very best Western on Selleck’s resume, this unabashedly old-fashioned and enjoyably exciting drama (based on a novel by Elmore Leonard) finds the charismatic star perfectly cast as an ex-Confederate cavalryman who seeks a new life with his strong-willed wife (Suzy Amis) and their two children (Haley Joel Osment — who’d later find fame in The Sixth Sense — and Rachel Duncan) on an Arizona homestead. Unfortunately, two Union-sympathizing brothers (played by real-life siblings Keith and David Carradine) have their own designs on the land.
With director Simon Wincer once again serving as his trail boss 11 years after they teamed for Quigley Down Under, Selleck saddled up for one more Louis L’Amour adaptation, this time playing a gruff but noble drifter who makes good on his promise to a dying man that he’ll look after the luckless fellow’s widow (Virginia Madsen) and Wyoming ranch. Selleck is as effortlessly authoritative as always, but the big surprise here is seeing Mark Harmon (NCIS) cast against type as a two-faced, back-shooting land-grabber.
Selleck and Simon Wincer teamed successfully for a third time to make this affectingly melancholy Western, based on a novel by Jack Schaefer (Shane), about a middle-aged cowboy who knows his way of life is drawing to close – but can’t figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Selleck gives one of his finest performances in the title role, and he’s never been more engaging than he is here in scenes opposite the lovely prostitute (Isabella Rossellini) who loves the incorrigible cowpoke. Better still, the final scene is guaranteed to leave you smiling, if not laughing out loud.