Great Comedy Westerns
When one thinks of westerns they know doubt think of the harsh gritty elements of the genre. Whether it be Lee Van Cleef’s cool sinister charisma or John Ford’s images of Monument Valley or Gary Cooper standing resolutely on an empty street for a duel. But this is a genre that could be mined for laughs too and when done right westerns can be absolutely hysterical. Here are some of the greatest comedy westerns of all-time.
Blazing Saddles: The master of brilliant cinematic satire, Mel Brooks, co-wrote this hilarious masterpiece with fellow comedy genius Richard Pryor (who was originally set to star). Former railroad worker Bart is set to be executed but, the conniving Hedy Lamarr…..sorry that’s Hedley, has other plans for him. Bart is sent to the racist town of Rockridge to be sheriff with the intention that they would hate him so much Lamarr can pave over the town for his rail line. But Bart, along with his deputy the Cincinnati Kid, a whole host of baddies are called in leading to one of the greatest fights in film history.
City Slickers: At the edge of forty and going through a collective mid-life crisis friends, Mitch, Ed and Phil head west to get away from it all. Despite their enthusiasm, the trio prove to be completely out of their element trying to work a cattle drive much to the chagrin of the gruff Curly. Nothing goes easy on this trip and more than once the three of them almost get themselves killed but ultimately they come through on the other side better men. Despite stars like Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern in the prime of their career, it is veteran character actor Jack Palance who steals the shows with his Oscar-winning performance.
Support Your Local Sheriff!: Coming to the wild and raucous town of Calendar, confident gunman Jason McCullough, played to cool perfection by James Garner, has to take on the job of sheriff due to rampant inflation in town. Lucky, or unlucky, for him the job is open because the powerful Danby family has run off all the prior lawmen. Armed only with a quick wit and skill with a firearm, Jason has to keep order in a town that can not even put bars on its jail cells. Support Your Local Sheriff! is one of those films that bombed upon its initial release but over the years ahs been reassessed as the fantastic film it is. .
Three Amigos: A trio of comedy icons in; Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase directed by the great John Landis, Three Amigos was bound to be a fan favorite. In need of heroes to save their village from El Guapo, Santo Poco brings in Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms, and Ned Nederlander. Unfortunately for them the trio are actually a group of out-of-work actor and not the heroes they portray onscreen. With nothing left to back for, the Three Amigos eventually decide to stay and on El Guapo’s 40th birthday, take the fight to him.
Evil Roy Slade: Leading an all-star cast John Astin plays Evil Roy Slade, the “meanest villain in the west”. His career as a train robbing outlaw comes to an end when Slade when he falls for the schoolmaster Betsy. But the dimwitted owners of the trains he used to rob are not about to let him get away with it and call in a retired singing sheriff to arrest Roy Slade once and for all. While this cult classic may be difficult to come by it is absolutely worth seeking out.
Way Out West: The legendary duo of Laurel and Hardy bring their brand of comedy to the old west. Stan and Ollie find themselves charged with taking the deed to a valuable gold mine to a prospector’s daughter. But flirting with the sheriff’s wife on the coach into town does not make them particularly popular from the start. Added to this when the saloon owner and his wife find out what the duo are there for they launch a scheme to get the deed themselves. But after plans going awry, including a hilarious scene with a donkey, Stan and Ollie eventually find success.