THE PROFESSIONALS
1966, Sony Repertory, 117 min, USA, Dir: Richard Brooks

Writer-director Richard Brooks earned a pair of Oscar nominations for this vastly underrated film. A Texas rancher enlists a team of mercenaries to rescue his wife, who has been kidnapped by a Mexican bandit. But the hired guns - Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode – soon learn that their employer hasn’t told them the whole story (the outstanding cast also includes Ralph Bellamy, Claudia Cardinale and Jack Palance). Beautifully shot by Conrad Hall, THE PROFESSIONALS is an irresistible mix of action, intrigue and humor that ranks among the very best Westerns of the 1960s.


THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
1995, Sony Repertory, 107 min, USA, Dir: Sam Raimi

Evil sadist Gene Hackman meets his match when a gun-slinging Sharon Stone enters his town looking for revenge in Sam Raimi's hyperkinetic Western. A stellar supporting cast, including Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lance Henriksen and Woody Strode, adds energy to this love letter to the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone.


THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE
1962, Paramount, 119 min, Dir: John Ford

James Stewart and John Wayne represent opposing but equally necessary forces in John Ford’s great late Western: Stewart is an unassuming lawyer who rises to political prominence as he civilizes the West, while Wayne is the man of violent action rendered obsolete by the passage of time. Vera Miles co-stars as the woman both men love, with additional support from Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef, Woody Strode and John Carradine.


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