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The Wild Bunch

Top 10 Westerns

In the Wild Bunch, an aging group of outlaws searches for their last big “score” before they retire for good

William Holden and Ernest Borgnine play ruthless outlaws in The Wild Bunch
Plot: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Warren Oates star in this revisionist Western that asks the question: What happened to the outlaws when the West was won? The story follows an aging gang of bandits that are struggling desperately to keep up with the 20th century. After a botched bank robbery ends with the death of several of their gang mates and the massacre of dozens of innocent bystanders, the group heads south to Mexico for one last big "score." It's there that they become involved in the Mexican Revolution and a complicated partnership with a malicious warlord. In the end, they are faced with the difficult choice of either surrendering to the modern age ... or going out with a bloody bang.

Perks: Directed by Sam Peckinpah, dubbed "Bloody Sam" for his realistic, explicit approach, "The Wild Bunch" is a graphic film. Few Westerns go to this extent to portray the brutality of outlaw living, but it was done so in order to remind the audience that the West was once a grisly, barbaric place. We often forget that cowboys like Gene Autry didn't actually roam around the West singing campy songs about lovesick buckaroos; in reality, there were once real outlaws like the Wild Bunch — men who would do anything to protect their lawless way of life. With its unique slow-mo cinematography, classic anti-hero characters and over-the-top shootouts, this controversial Western will surely remain popular for many years to come.

(Updated: 08/29/13 MG)

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