With 'Blackthorn' in theaters, an excuse to assess the genre
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1. "Once Upon a Time in the West" (Sergio Leone, 1968)
Not just the best of a genre but in the top tier of the greatest cinema ever crafted. "Once Upon a Time in the West" was the culmination of everything Sergio Leone had to offer the western: unmatched visuals, full-hearted reverence and a knack for the epic. Here Leone's west is a land and an ideal slowly losing its grip to civilization and the iron horse, but with one more score to settle. He paints the soundtrack with Ennio Morricone's career-best work here, the melodic wail of a metal windmill there. It's a fairytale of men, but something longed for, something inchoate, something to do with death.