Cowboys & Aliens is shooting its way into cinemas on 17 August: by name alone, it’s the most anticipated movie since Snakes On A Plane. It sees Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford as frontier men taking on a much greater foe than outlaws: extra-terrestrials.
Of course, cowboys and aliens have both had a long heritage on the big screen before being brought together in this Jon Favreau shoot’em up: here, we look at the most famous, in history and on film.
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The man with no name (Fictional)
Clint Eastwood’s character in Sergio Leone’s trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns (A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly) is the archetypal cowboy gunslinger – and he doesn’t even have a name. All he has is his revolvers, his poncho and more grizzle than you can shake a bear at – perhaps the missing moniker serves to make him all the more a legend.
Billy The Kid (Real)
He may have died at just 21, but in his few short years, Billy The Kid managed to achieve infamy: this was a man who killed without qualm and faced down lawmen in stand offs. He even escaped capture on several occasions: it was the stuff of legend, and is the stuff of films. William McCarty, his real name, came to represent the dark side of the Wild West like no-one else.
Pat Garrett (Real)
Pat Garrett was the antithesis of Billy the Kid. As the sheriff who killed him, he represented law and order in the frontier. Garrett outlived Billy The Kid, but he too was shot and killed, in 1908 at the close of the era.
Jesse James (Real)
The Kid was the cold blooded gunslinger, but Jesse James was the bandit, carrying out daring bank heists and stage coach robberies, all the while eluding the Pinkerton detectives sent to capture him. Though it may not have been true, his legend depicts him as a Robin Hood figure, giving to the poor with the takings he plundered from the rich. He was eventually killed by an accomplice, Robert Ford, the subject of which was made into a film starring Brad Pitt.
Bill Pickett (Real)
We couldn’t conclude a list of the most famous cowboys without at least one actual cowboy. Pickett, a descendant of slaves, became one of America’s most famous ranchers and rodeo performers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, even appearing in early motion pictures.
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Image via icopythat
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