Fans of the HBO series, Deadwood, rejoiced as earlier this year, a follow-up movie for the series was released. Under the same name, the Deadwood movie reunited the cast from the series and built off the finale, further exploring some character relations and giving audiences a more satisfying conclusion.
Part of what made Deadwood so popular was its unique spin on the western genre and its calling-out/breaking of some tropes. While there are still plenty of western tropes within the series and movie, both still did plenty to distinguish themselves from other films in the genre. Furthermore, the movie also feels a lot like a love letter to other westerns that have come before it. To look back at some of the other great achievements in the genre, here is our list of the 10 best westerns to watch if you liked Deadwood.
10 High Noon
As the oldest film on this list, High Noon (1952) set the standard for all other westerns that came after it. Starring Gary Cooper, High Noon follows the character Will Kane as he prepares to face off against his rival, Frank Miller. While it may sound like an incredibly overplayed plot, High Noon was one of the first films to enact it, meaning that it literally defined certain elements of the genre.
Though black and white cinema isn’t for everyone, there are still plenty of elements in High Noon that still hold up today. Furthermore, there would arguably be no Deadwood if it weren’t for movies like this one, making High Noon one of the more important films in the genre.
9 American Outlaws
Of all the Jesse James stories that have been told in cinema, American Outlaws (2001) is easily one of the most inaccurate. With that in mind, the story still tells a wild and fun tale on the adventures of Jesse James. Focusing heavily on action, adventure, and romance, American Outlaws is a significant departure from Deadwood’s slower, politically driven story.
However, while the tone and themes may be different, there are still some heavy similarities in the characters. In being Westerns, the characters in both movies tend to be morally gray. Audiences of course still end up picking sides, but the main character isn’t always a good guy. Despite different stories, many of the relationships in the two films tend to mirror each other, making American Outlaws worth a watch for any Deadwood fan.
8 True Grit
Both versions of True Grit (1969 & 2010) are great western movies in their own rights. However, in the case of their relation to Deadwood, the newer version is likely to have more similarities. Both True Grit (2010) and Deadwood are modern westerns, and it shows in comparison to the classic True Grit. With the modern remake, it is certainly made to appeal to a much newer audience. While it may have some of the classic western themes, the visual style of storytelling is certainly much more approachable and fluid, especially for audiences today.
Considering how the True Grit remake came out after the Deadwood TV series, it is interesting to see how the styles have changed between the two. Regardless, if you’re looking for a classic western or a great modern one, either version of True Grit should be enough to satisfy any western craving.
7 Little Big Man
Little Big Man (1970) stars Dustin Hoffman as Jack Crabb. After a reporter comes to visit Crabb to get his story, the narrative uses flashbacks in a similar manner to Forrest Gump. Crabb’s life is full of all sorts of major moments, especially as he was one of the only survivors of the Battle of Little Bighorn.
A big similarity this movie shares with Deadwood is some inclusion of actual historical events. While certain things are obviously changed for the sake of the narrative, the fact that there is still some accuracy is part of the appeal for many fans of the western genre. Along with Deadwood, any fan of historical fiction is likely to enjoy Little Big Man.
On Christmas of 1993, Tombstone released in theaters. Not only was it a great financial success, but it also sparked new interest in the western genre. With a star-studded cast including Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, and Val Kilmer, Tombstone became a whole new staple for western films.
Like Deadwood, Tombstone has a very similar aesthetic. Not only do the towns look similar, but a lot of the “politics” are comparable. While Tombstone has a bit more action, there’s still a much heavier story present that keeps it a bit more grounded and serious than something like American Outlaws. Likewise, there are still plenty of differences from Deadwood that keep Tombstone interesting for those who haven’t seen it.
5 The Magnificent Seven
Once again, both the classic The Magnificent Seven (1960) and the remake (2016) are great companion films to Deadwood. Though the new one has more mixed reviews, there are still plenty of things for fans of the western genre to enjoy. However, the new one is also a bit more comedic than both the original and Deadwood, meaning that it may not be for everyone.
Regardless, there is still plenty to enjoy from either film. They both feature some classic western elements and the cast in both movies compliment each other greatly. Deadwood’s cast helped make the series and the movie as popular as they both were, making either version of The Magnificent Seven ideal for any Deadwood fan.
4 Hateful Eight
Director Quentin Tarantino is known for his unique style. Unfortunately, that style is not for everyone. Likewise, The Hateful Eight (2015) isn’t even regarded as one of the director’s best films. However, there are still many enjoyable elements about the film that, even though it may not be Tarantino’s best, doesn’t make it a bad film by any means.
Much like Deadwood, there is a lot of talking and politics that drive the story forward. The same can be said for The Hateful Eight. There is actually very little action in both films, helping to distinguish the two amongst others in the genre. While Tarantino may not be for everyone, The Hateful Eight is still worth a shot for any Deadwood fan.
3 The Kid
The Kid (2019) is one of the most recent western films, only predating Deadwood by a few months. Like other films on this list, this one is loosely inspired by true events, with added elements to help dramatize the situations. Though The Kid received mixed reviews, director Vincent D’Onofrio did a great job of delivering the same great western themes for a more modern audience.
Though the film is still far from perfect, The Kid is still very enjoyable and might have received more negative comments than it deserves. Though there is still much more action in this film than in Deadwood, it fits comfortably within the western genre, helping it feel right at home with other films like it.
2 Dances With Wolves
Kevin Costner stars in this classic western epic as his character, John Dunbar, comes to find a whole new life among a Native American tribe. As one of the most celebrated western films of all time, Dances With Wolves (1990) is not one to be missed. Though it has a drastically different story from Deadwood, Dances With Wolves still offers a different viewpoint of the same time period.
Likewise, there isn’t a whole lot of action in Dances With Wolves (only when appropriate) and there also isn’t a heavy emphasis on politics. It is simply just a well-told story. While its highly likely that fans of Deadwood have already seen Dances With Wolves, those who haven’t should give it a watch as soon as possible.
Unforgiven (1992) is a Clint Eastwood film that follows a former outlaw who is forced to return to his old ways after becoming a farmer. With a star-studded cast including Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Clint Eastwood himself, Unforgiven is easily one of the better modern western movies. As one of the better-reviewed westerns as well, Unforgiven offers audiences a unique spin on the classic genre.
The cast blends incredibly well together and was even slightly more diverse than audiences were accustomed to at the time. Much like Dances With Wolves and Deadwood, Unforgiven is just not to be missed by any fan of westerns.