06 Nov The Top 10 Bad Guys in Western Movie History
Behind Every Successful Western Is A Great Villain. Hardly any other genre depends on them so heavily. We present you the 10 most outrageous murderers, backstabbers, double-crossing lowlifes in Western movie history.
- Jack Wilson, (Jack Palance), Shane (1953)
Jack Palance was born to play bad guys. My first contact with him was in my favorite 80’s action blockbuster, Tango & Cash. Even today that old, stone-cold geezer gives me the creeps as I stumble upon the movie on TV. Few years after, I was watching Shane and have instantly recognized his face, despite the fact that the movie was made nearly 40 years earlier. You can easily find the similarities between those two characters. It’s the same calculated, “stepping over dead bodies to get what he wants” persona. In Shane, he plays Jack Wilson, ruthless gunslinger hired to take over the small farm in Wyoming.
- Liberty Valance, (Lee Marvin), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Lee Marvin was told by the director John Ford to take his acting on a whole new level for this movie. It was supposed to be a caricature of his previous “bad guy” roles and acting had to be over the top. Lee Marvin played Liberty Valance, sadistic monster that was terrorizing the whole town on a daily basis with savage cruelty.
- Calvera (Eli Wallach), The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Ok, he was pretty nasty in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but was outplayed by Lee Van Cleef, in terms of evilness. However, he made it in the top 10 with his brilliant role of Calvera, a notorious leader of the Mexican gang. His vicious plan was to steal all the food supplies from the poor villagers in order to survive the winter with his 40 fellowmen. Let the quote from the movie speak for itself: “If God did not want them sheared, He would not have made them sheep”.
- Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
I can’t think of a more menacing look than the one Angel Eyes gave to Stevens in the scene where they had a lunch together. He walked in the room, ate the guy’s food, stole his money and killed him in the end. I can’t decide what a bigger LVC trademark is: his bolero hat or that intimidating stare. A lot of people ask us about the Clint Eastwood Poncho which can be found on our site
- Frank, (Henry Fonda), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Everybody who saw this movie after watching 12 Angry Men or Young Mr. Lincoln was surely shocked by Fonda’s role in this western classic. The actor that has always been playing the good guys delivered one of the most brutal performance in Western movie history. And it all happened in the opening scene of the movie! After butchering the entire young boy’s family, the main villain approached the kid and killed him without blinking an eye.
- “Old Man” Clanton (Walter Brennan), My Darling Clementine (1946)
Walter Brennan is also one of the actors better known for their “good guy” roles. In this title, he plays a leader of the cattle-stilling Clanton clan. After Wyatt Earp left his ranch, his sons and himself pillaged Earp’s property and shot dead his brother in the back. At the first glance, Old man Clanton make you believe that he is a regular hard working rancher, but then he goes Mr. Hyde in a fraction of a second.
- Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), Unforgiven (1992)
The role of Little Bill Daggett brought Gene Hackman his second Oscar. He plays a sheriff that runs the town of Big Whiskey with an iron fist. We are dealing here with a unique villain and a contradictory person. Behind all the Little Bill’s brutality and ruthlessness lies a strong belief that he is actually doing the right thing. Hackman is a master at performing complex and multi-layered bad guy characters.
- Sheriff Cobb (Brian Dennehy), Silverado (1985)
Sometimes I have an impression that Brian Dennehy only had have played crooked Sheriffs or corrupted cops throughout his entire career. Those roles suit him so naturally. In Silverado, he appears as a rancorous sheriff who will do anything to get what he wants. Manipulative, calculated, stone-cold hearted guy erasing everyone who gets in his way.
- Cicero Grimes (Richard Boone), Hombre (1967)
Cicero Grimes, played by Richard Boone, is a mysterious stranger whose goal is to rob the stagecoach he has previously boarded on. There is no one moral fiber running through that man’s body. And what a scary face he has. In the scene where the group was walking through the desert, he drank whiskey instead of water. How more bad-ass can you be?
- Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon), Open Range (2003)
Despite his short presence in the movie, Denton Baxter made the list thanks to his outrageous behavior. For that brief time, he managed to beat up the guy and leave him to die, point a gun at a child and kill an innocent dog.