Edgy, gritty, and far more memorable that the original films on which they were based, these examples of westerns that are actually remakes feature powerful performances by Academy Award winning actors like Jeff Bridges and Christian Bale and have provided stars like Jimmy Stewart with some of their most well known roles. Surpassing the originals in both scope and tone, these blockbuster films are infused with boldness and intensity, proving that our heroes will always be cowboys. Giddy up.
Nominated for a number of Academy Awards, this gritty 2011 western about a drunken U.S. Marshall hired by a teenage girl bent on finding the criminal who killed her father is a remake of the 1969 classic starring John Wayne as gruff U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn. Directed by Indie icons Joel and Ethan Coen, the remake of “True Grit” starred Jeff Bridges as Cogburn as well as a number of blockbuster stars like Josh Brolin and Matt Damon. Darker and more action oriented than the original, the film is packed with authentic Western-era dialogue and sarcasm, as well as the moody tone for which the Coen Brothers are known. The original film earned John Wayne his only Academy Award in 1970, while the remake garnered a wealth of nominations including a Best Actor nomination for Bridges, a Best Supporting Actress nomination for 14-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, and Best Picture.
“3:10 to Yuma”
This exceptionally dark and suspenseful 2007 drama starred Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and told the story of a indebted ranch hand hoping to wipe his slate clean by escorting a notorious outlaw to the titular train—a train headed for a courthouse so that he can answer for his crimes. Based on a little known 1957 film starring legendary cowboy Glenn Ford, this remake featured Crowe’s masterful portrayal of philosophical outlaw Ben Wade, balanced perfectly by superstar Christian Bale's Dan Evans, fresh off his success from “Batman Begins.” The result is a powerful film that differs greatly in tone that blurs the line between hero and villain, highlighted by a particularly brilliant—if not disturbing—performance by actor Ben Foster as Wade’s second-in-command, Charlie Prince.
“Destry Rides Again”
An early example of westerns that are actually remakes is the 1939 classic “Destry Rides Again” which proved to be one of actor Jimmy Stewart’s best known films. Like “3:10 to Yuma,” “Destry Rides Again” was based on an obscure 1932 film starring iconic Western actor Tom Mix and completely surpassed the original film to the point where the original has since been retitled "Justice Rides Again" in order to separate itself from its more famous remake. The film, about a famous lawman named Destry played by Stewart who takes back a crooked town from a murderous outlaw, lacked the stale, B-movie dialogue and cheesy action of the original and played up the small town charm of Jimmy Stewart—a natural charisma that was heightened by the on-screen chemistry between Stewart and female lead, Marlene Deitrich.