Everything from Christmas-themed country music specials to remakes of John Wayne classics.
With so many options available now on cable, streaming platforms, digital networks, and broadcast television, you might spend more time searching for something to watch than actually watching anything. So we’re offering a weekly guide to some programming of special interest to C&I readers. Here are a few suggestions for Dec. 4-10. Happy viewing.
Pick of the Week: Christmas at the Opry on NBC
Wynonna Judd is host for this two-hour county music extravaganza, filmed at the legendary Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and featuring musical performances by some of country’s biggest stars. Kelly Clarkson, Chrissy Metz, Adam Doleac, BRELAND, Brenda Lee, Chris Janson, Lauren Alaina, Meghan Patrick, Mickey Guyton, Mitchell Tenpenny and Trace Adkins are among the notables who will join Wynonna to sing their hottest hits and beloved holiday classics. The special airs at 8 pm ET Dec. 7 on NBC, and the following day on Peacock.
The Alamo (1960) — John Wayne does double duty as director and star of this epic historical drama co-starring Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Richard Boone, Chill Wills and Patrick Wayne.
The Homesman (2014) — Tommy Lee Jones is director and star of this drama about a wayward claim jumper who teams up with a devout pioneer woman (two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank) to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa across the 1850s frontier.
Man of the West (1958) — Gary Cooper is the star of director Anthony Mann’s Western about a reformed outlaw forced to rejoin the gang led by his aging uncle (Lee J. Cobb).
Appaloosa (2008) — We’re still hoping for a sequel to this uncommonly satisfying old-fashioned Western, directed by and starring Ed Harris, about Virgil Cole (Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), veteran peacekeepers hired to establish law and order in a Wild West town controlled by renegade rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons).
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) — Sam Peckinpah’s cult-fave revisionist Western showcases potent performances by James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson in the title roles, an exceptionally strong supporting cast (Slim Pickens, R.G. Armstrong, etc.), and co-star Bob Dylan’s affecting song “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”
Wind River (2017) — Writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s excellent contemporary western is at its very best during scenes shared by Jeremy Renner as a game tracker pressed into service to help solve a murder near a Native American reservation, and Gil Birmingham as the anguished father of the victim.
Lone Star (1996) — Writer-director John Sayles’ critically acclaimed contemporary Western stars Chris Cooper as a Texas county sheriff who comes to suspect his late father (Matthew McConaughey), a legendary lawman, may have killed his corrupt predecessor (Kris Kristofferson).
Vera Cruz (1954) Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster and Ernest Borgnine star in director Robert Aldrich’s hard-edged Western about a plot to steal gold intended to pay Emperor Maximillian’s army during the Franco-Mexican War.
Young Billy Young (1969) — Robert Mitchum again, this time as a former Dodge City sheriff who accepts as his protégé a callow young gunfighter (Robert Walker Jr. in the title role) while searching for his son’s killer. Burt Kennedy served as director, working from a screenplay he adapted from a novel written by Henry Wilson Allen under the pseudonym Will Henry.
Stagecoach (1986) — Surprisingly entertaining remake of the 1939 Western that made John Wayne a star, with Kris Kristofferson taking over The Duke’s role as The Ringo Kid, and fellow Highwaymen Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings along for the ride. 8 pm ET on Grit.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972) — Between Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, Robert Redford added another significant notch to his list of signature roles with his authoritative performance in the title role of director Sydney Pollack’s rugged Western inspired by the real-life exploits of a legendary mountain man. 8 pm ET on Grit.
A Nashville Country Christmas (2022) — Tanya Tucker plays a stressed-out country star who seeks R&R at her grandma’s Tennessee farm, where she reconnects with her handsome ex (Keith Carradine), returns to her musical roots — and discovers three clever kids who’ve outsmarted the foster care system and are living at the family homestead at Christmas. 7 pm ET on CMT.
Man Without a Star (2023) — Kirk Douglas rides tall as the title character, a straight-shooting drifter who lacks both a lawman’s badge and a clear sense of direction as he wanders into a range war between an unscrupulous lady rancher (Jeanne Crain) bent on taking over all the open range in Wyoming, and the defiant owners of smaller spreads. 12:58 am, 12:27 pm and 10:15 pm on Starz Encore Westerns.
Red River (1988) — A respectable TV-movie remake of Howard Hawks’ classic 1948 cattle drive drama, with James Arness and Bruce Boxleitner filling the roles originally played by John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. 9 pm ET on INSP.
A Cowboy Christmas Romance (2023) — When a real estate "closer" returns to her Arizona home town to coax horse-whispering rancher Coby Mason (Adam Senn) to sell his family’s land, romantic complications ensue. 8 pm ET on Lifetime.
Hondo (1953) — John Wayne counted among his favorite films this well-crafted Western in which he plays the title role as a rugged loner who is surprisingly sympathetic to the Native American cause — with good reason, it should be noted — even while protecting a neglected woman (Geraldine Page) and her young son (Lee Aaker) from their increasingly (but not unreasonably) hostile Apache neighbors. 9 pm ET on INSP.