One of the most popular genres in cinema history has to be the western, but more rare are the comedy westerns. With A Million Ways To Die In The West hitting the spot at the box office, we’ve rounded up a few of the best comedy westerns that have made it to the big screen.

 

 

City Slickers

 

Released in 1991, this is a modern-day version of a western that’s full of slapstick humour. A radio ad salesman from the big city called Mitch (Billy Crystal) has reached his mid-life crisis, as have his two friends Ed (Bruno Kirby) and Phil (Daniel Stern). They decide to find themselves by going on a two week holiday where they’ll drive cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. Cowboy Curly (Jack Palance) teaches the trio not only how to be real cowboys, but also teaches them a thing or two about life along the way.

 

 

Maverick

Released in 1994, this is a comedy western which is a first-person account of the adventures of Maverick (Mel Gibson), a con artist and card player who is gathering cash to be able to join a high-stakes poker game. He is assisted by Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and law man Marshall Zane Cooper (James Garner). Other famous faces in the cast include James Coburn, Graham Greene and Alfred Molina.

 

 

One of the best-known scenes is when Maverick is playing a game of poker on a steamboat called the Lauren Belle. His fellow con-artist Annabelle Bransford is also at the final table, along with the Commodore (James Coburn) who owns the boat and has organised the tournament, and Angel (Alfred Molina), a bad-tempered gambler who Maverick had conned earlier in the film. Bransford is the first to be eliminated, and then the other three players are dealt a ‘fixed’ hand. The Commodore is dealt four 8s and Angel is given a low straight flush. Maverick, meanwhile, has the 10, Jack, Queen and King of Spades. When Maverick sees the dealer bottom-dealing to the other players, who have gone ‘all-in’, he protests and agrees he will accept a card dealt by Angel, but won’t look to see what the card is. As it turns out, it’s the Ace of Spades, which gives him the championship with an unbeatable Royal Flush.

That’s not where the tale ends, though. There are three further plot twists and the film ends with Maverick talking to the audience directly, explaining exactly what has been going on. For people who enjoy playing games of online poker at sites like Pokerstars and enjoy western movies, Maverick has it all.

 

Blazing Saddles

 

 

Mel Brooks’ 1974 film has been called the ultimate western spoof. Co-written by Richard Pryor, it’s about a town called Rock Ridge that is scheduled for demolition to make way for a railroad. The townsfolk don’t want to move, so a corrupt politician called Hedley Lemarr (Harvey Forman) makes their lives difficult by sending his henchmen into town to disrupt the community. When the town’s sheriff is killed, Hedley convinces the Governor to appoint a black sheriff, something that throws the town into confusion. Cleavon Little plays the role of Bart the sheriff and the plot centres on his difficulties in winning over the townsfolk and his efforts to save Rock Ridge from demolition. As well as directing, Mel Brooks takes on a multiple of roles in the film including playing the Governor and an Indian chief. Gene Wilder plays Jim and a lot of the interaction between the characters of Bart and Jim show what great chemistry the two actors shared.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.