Melissa (of Melissa's Meanderings), in a very recent post, touched on the film The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I like it too. It's a bit long, but certainly a film I'm prepared to sit through. For A Few Dollars More is another favourite.
A pity that the Western genre has had its day. I think it died with John Wayne. I really loved the many old TV westerns, whether they were at kiddy level, like Hopalong Cassidy, Champion the Wonder Horse, and The Lone Ranger, or something more sophisticated (?) like Boots and Saddles, Davy Crockett, Rawhide, Bronco, Cheyenne, Bonanza, Maverick, Gunslinger, Branded, The Rifleman, Cimarron Strip, or High Chaparral. Even spoof series like Alias Smith and Jones. I'm ashamed to say even films like Blazing Saddles. They all in their way captured something about the Wild West that strongly appealed and they felt heroic, or at least dealt forthrightly with simple issues in an uncomplicated way, and had good endings. And they quite rightly put emphasis on self-dependence and the love you can feel for your horse. ELO's track Wild West Hero evokes it all quite well.
Alas, the world has changed. Conflicts can't really be settled by Randolph Scott riding into town. The nice guy doesn't automatically get the sweetheart. Bitter rivals don't just shake hands and agree to share the waterhole. And if the old Westerns celebrated pride, fortitude, honour and principle, they also celebrated gambling, robbery, hard drinking, gunplay, casual killing, and the mass slaughter of native Americans.
I don't agree that the Star War films and their imitations are the same thing. The emptiness of space or the confines of a spaceship are too sterile. In the background of every Western was the land, the rock and dust, and weather that could kill you. Over and above any threat from being shot in a saloon or ambushed by outraged braves fighting a doomed battle against the rise of modern American culture, was the challenge of survival on the vast prairie. That frontier feeling was well depicted, so special, and had so much appeal. Where can you realistically have such adventures now?
Perhaps the Western will come back, when we are tired of computer games and want to return to a simpler life.