With 'Blackthorn' in theaters, an excuse to assess the genre
8. "Red River" (Howard Hawks, 1948)
Howard Hawks's account of the first brutal Chisholm Trail cattle drive is the filmmaker's only entry in the genre to make the list. Featuring John Wayne as a tyrant leading the charge, the film offers up a complex father-son dynamic between The Duke and heartthrob-of-the-day Montgomery Clift that resonates to this day. It features a bit of a clipped narrative that fails to build to the event you want it to, but the strength of its set-up has always kept it in the highest regard, and is perhaps why it remains a personal favorite. Wayne's performance is one of his best, with something lurking beneath the surface that isn't present in his more iconic portrayals.