(Richard Fleischer, U.S.A., 1975): Still jaw-dropping after all these years, Richard Fleischer's much-maligned sex and slavery potboiler (literally, if you recall the pitchfork and cauldron ending) can at least now be appreciated for the work of stark and uncomfortable frankness that it is, and not...

(Steven Spielberg, U.S.A., 2012): For the most part, Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is a gripping minor-key backroom political drama, and a refreshingly scaled-down reminder that history -- and its splashier cohort, mythology -- always begins in the details. In this case, the details are densely arrayed:...

(D.W. Griffith, U.S.A., 1915): There is much to learn from the fact that the most important American movie of the sound era is also so profoundly problematic, for that's also part of its uncannily prophetic nature: it understood that bullshit and history were the main...

(John Ford, U.S.A., 1956): Taking this one on board as a favourite is also to accept a certain amount of responsibility: John Ford's greatest western is also his most challenging, conflicted and torn movie, so having it around in the house is kind of like...

(Kevin Reynolds, U.S.A., 2012): This is mostly an MOR-bore of a TV movie, distinguished from a vintage network mini-series from the '70s or '80s only by its spurts of violence, fatally undone by the casting of too-pretty actors in the roles of everyone under forty,...

(Anthony Mann, U.S.A, 1958): Civilisation crumbles and disappears before your eyes in Man of the West, Anthony Mann's penultimate western and an elemental boiling down of all that had preceded it into a hard, smouldering nugget of a parable. Gary Cooper, cast by Mann as...

(Anthony Mann, U.S.A., 1955): The triumphant Anthony Mann-James Stewart cycle closed with this brutal, savagely satisfying, Philip Yordan-scripted revenge drama, arguably the best of the collaboration and certainly the precursor to Mann's similarly savage but even more sparsely elemental Man of the West. Again, Stewart's a...

(Anthony Mann, U.S.A., 1955): The far country is Canada, and in this compact but sprawling odyssey western it's where people go to make communities free of greed and arbitrary frontier justice. That James Stewart's Jeff Webster winds up there, and eventually learns to let his...

(Martin Ritt, U.S.A., 1963): Paul Newman's specialty, as a young star especially, was in playing the gorgeous prick: the bastard you couldn't take your eyes off because he was beautiful even as he crushed people's hearts, and who usually took a pounding to compensate for...

(Anthony Mann, U.S.A., 1953): As livid, brutal and terse as the Mickey-Spillane-goes-west title suggests, The Naked Spur re-configures Treasure of the Sierra Madre as a technicolor mountain melodrama in which the stakes are bounty instead of gold and nary a door is ever passed through nor...

(Anthony Mann, U.S.A., 1952): As true as it is that landscape is character in Anthony Mann's westerns, and especially the free-range odyssey movies featuring James Stewart, it's just as true that character is landscape: rugged, changeable, hard and sometimes impossible to get around. And no...

(Robert Mulligan, USA, 1968): Coming the blood year of Tet, My Lai and the King-Kennedy assassinations, Robert Mulligan's unseen enemy western -- about an aging scout (Gregory Peck), a formerly captive white woman (Eva Marie Saint) and her mixed-race son being pursued by the boy's...