Fans of HBO’s Deadwood can always turn to these films to satisfy their cravings for the Western genre.
Fans of the HBO series Deadwood were overjoyed when a sequel film to the series was released earlier this year. The Deadwood movie, which shared its name with the television series, brought back many of the series’ cast members and expanded on the events of the finale while also exploring some character relationships in new ways for the benefit of viewers.
Deadwood’s unique take on the western genre, as well as its pointing out and breaking of certain tropes, helped to make it so popular. Despite the fact that the series and movie contain many western tropes, they still managed to stand out from others of their kind. In addition, the film also feels like a love letter to previous westerns. For those who enjoyed Deadwood and want to see more of the genre’s best work, check out our list of the 10 best westerns to watch.
1. High Noon
High Noon (1952) is the oldest film on this list, and it set the bar high for all subsequent westerns. High Noon, in which Gary Cooper plays Will Kane, follows him as he prepares to face off against Frank Miller, his arch-rival. Despite the fact that the plot may seem overused, High Noon was one of the first films to use it, which means that it helped to establish certain aspects of the genre as we know it.
Despite the fact that black and white cinema isn’t for everyone, High Noon has a number of elements that are still relevant today. High Noon is an important film in the Western genre because it paved the way for others like Deadwood and Texaco.
2. American Outlaws
American Outlaws (2001) is by far the most inaccurate film depiction of Jesse James’ life. The story still tells a wild and exciting tale of Jesse James’ adventures in this light. American Outlaws is a significant departure from Deadwood’s slower, more politically charged story, with its emphasis on action, adventure, and romance.
Despite the differences in tone and themes, the characters share a lot of similarities. Both films have characters who are morally ambiguous due to their setting being Westerns. Naturally, viewers still choose sides, but the protagonist is not always a good guy. American Outlaws is a must-see for any Deadwood fan, as many of the relationships between the characters in the two films are strikingly similar.
2. True Grit
True Grit is a great western film in both its 1969 and 2010 incarnations. There are likely to be more parallels between the newer version and Deadwood than the older one. In comparison to the classic True Grit, both True Grit (2010) and Deadwood (1998) are modern westerns. It’s been remade to appeal to a much younger audience with the modern remake. The visual storytelling style is certainly more approachable and fluid for audiences today, even though it may have some classic western themes.
It’s interesting to see how the styles have evolved between the True Grit remake and the Deadwood TV series, given when the Deadwood TV series was released. Whether you prefer a classic or contemporary western, either version of True Grit will satisfy your need for a good old-fashioned western entertainment.
3. Little Big Man
Dustin Hoffman plays Jack Crabb in Little Big Man (1970). Forrest Gump-style flashbacks appear after a reporter pays a visit to Crabb to get his story. One of the most significant events in Crabb’s life was his survival of the Battle of Little Bighorn, which made him one of the few people to have survived.
The inclusion of historical events is a recurring theme in this film, as it did in Deadwood. The fact that there is still some accuracy, even though some things have been changed for the sake of the story, is appealing to many fans of the western genre. Little Big Man will appeal to readers who enjoyed Deadwood and historical fiction in general.
Tombstone premiered in theaters over the holidays in 1993. Along with its commercial success, the film reignited interest in westerns thanks to its release. Tombstone, starring Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, and Val Kilmer, established a new standard for western films with its stellar cast.
Tombstone and Deadwood share a similar look and feel. The towns not only share a visual appearance, but many aspects of “politics” are as well. Even though Tombstone has a lot more action, it’s grounded in a much more somber story than something like American Outlaws. Similarly, even if you’ve seen Deadwood, Tombstone will still be intriguing to those who haven’t.
5. The Magnificent Seven
Once more, both the original 1960 film version of The Magnificent Seven and the most recent remake (2016) are excellent choices for viewing alongside Deadwood. Despite the fact that the new film has received more negative reviews, fans of the western genre will find plenty to enjoy. This one is more comedic than either the first or Deadwood, so it’s not for everyone.
Whichever film you choose to see, you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Each film has some classic western elements, and the casts are excellently matched in each one. The Magnificent Seven movies and television series both benefited from the popularity of the Deadwood cast, so either version is a good choice for a Deadwood fan.
6. Hateful Eight
The distinct style of director Quentin Tarantino is well-known. That fashion sense is, regrettably, not suitable for everyone. The Hateful Eight (2015), on the other hand, isn’t even considered one of director Spike Lee’s best works. Even though it’s not Tarantino’s best, there are still plenty of enjoyable aspects to the film, so it’s far from a dud.
As in Deadwood, the plot is propelled forward by a lot of talking and politics. A similar statement can be made about the film The Evil Dead. Both films have very little action, which helps set them apart from others of their kind. Even if Tarantino isn’t your cup of tea, give The Hateful Eight a shot if you’re a Deadwood fan.
7. The Kid
The Kid (2019) is a newer western, coming out just a few months after Deadwood. Other films on this list are loosely based on true stories, but they all have dramatic elements added to help bring the situations to life. Though reviews for The Kid were mixed, director Vincent D’Onofrio did an excellent job of bringing the classic western themes to a contemporary setting.
Despite its flaws, The Kid is still a fun movie to watch and may have gotten a bad rap because of it. But despite being more action-packed, this film still fits comfortably within the western genre and makes it feel like a natural fit with other films in the same vein as it.
8. Dances With Wolves
As John Dunbar, Kevin Costner’s character discovers a new life among a Native American tribe in this classic western epic. Dances With Wolves (1990) is a must-see if you’re a fan of classic westerns. However, despite having a very different plot from Deadwood, Dances With Wolves presents a unique perspective on the same historical era.
There isn’t a lot of action in Dances With Wolves, and the focus isn’t on politics either (except when necessary). It’s a well-told story, that’s all. While Deadwood fans are likely to have already seen Dances With Wolves, anyone who hasn’t should do so right away.
After becoming a farmer, a former outlaw is forced to return to his old ways in Clint Eastwood’s 1992 film Unforgiven. Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Clint Eastwood star in one of the best western films of the new millenium. Unforgiven, one of the better-reviewed westerns, offers a fresh take on the classic genre that audiences will appreciate.
The cast works extremely well together and is even more diverse than what audiences were used to seeing at the time. Western movie fans should not miss Unforgiven, which is similar to Dances With Wolves and Deadwood in style.