I like Australian Westerns. I think the first one I ever saw was The Sundowners, which I've always remembered because of its music--I'm a sucker for movie soundtracks--and since then I've seen a lot of 'em, some good and some not so, and several of them many times. These oaters from Oz have also been referred to as Kangaroo Westerns, or--in a play on the term Spaghetti Westerns--Meat Pie Westerns.
Something I've found interesting about all this: The first in the genre was The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906), but after that there was a 30- or 40-year gap in the production of Australian Westerns, because of a law there that banned the depiction of so-called "bushrangers" in films. The down-under horse-opera industry picked up again in the forties, and the one I remember most from that time period is The Overlanders--it was filmed before I was born, but I've seen it several times, most recently on YouTube this past week.
Anyhow, here are a dozen of my favorite Australian Westerns, with, in my opinion, the best ones listed first:
1. The Man from Snowy River (1982) -- I'm crazy about this movie. Great acting (especially Kirk Douglas in a double good-guy/bad-guy role), a good coming-of-age plot, and maybe most of all a good love story. And I know I get hung up on this sometimes, but it has a fantastic musical score.
2. Quigley Down Under (1990) -- Mostly American and British actors in an Australian Western, but it works. Who in our universe doesn't like watching Tom Selleck, or Alan Rickman? There's even (spoiler here) a final stonefaced showdown.
3. The Sundowners (1960) -- Dated now, but still fun. I liked a lot of movies made in the sixties, and this is the only Australian Western I remember from that decade. Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr.
4. The Proposition (2005) -- A different kind of story, ultra-gritty and violent. Interesting plot and great characters, but don't expect many pretty faces. (I'll watch Guy Pearce in anything, ever since L.A. Confidential.)
5. Mystery Road (2013) -- More of a contemporary mystery than a Western, but it features Old West themes and values, and an interesting plot.
6. The Tracker (2002) -- The title character is a Native Australian hired to help a posse of white men find one of his countrymen who killed a white woman.
7. Australia (2008) -- This movie tries to be an epic and falls a bit short, but with native sons and daughters Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman it worked anyway, for me. Not that it matters, but it has one of the best trailers I ever saw.
8. The Overlanders (1946) -- A story about a cattle drive across the Northern Territory from Wyndham to Brisbane. A very old movie but still fun to watch.
9. Ned Kelly (1970) -- Probably not as as good as some of the later movies about the Kellys (I haven't yet seen 2019's True History of the Kelly Gang), but I enjoyed it. Mick Jagger, believe it or not, in the title role.
10. The Legend of Ben Hall (2016) -- More bushrangers and their mites. Everybody in this movie looks like Jason Robards in Once Upon a Time in the West.
11. Sweet Country (2017) -- Another story of Aussie racism: A Northern Territory Aborigine shoots a white man in self-defense in the 1920s and then goes on the run. (Sort of The Tracker from a different perspective.)
12. Mad Dog Morgan (1976) -- Dennis Hopper in Australia, which is interesting in itself. Low-budget and a little sloppy at times, but enjoyable.
As for other genres, I usually also like Australian comedies (Crocodile Dundee, Muriel's Wedding), mysteries (Dead Calm, Animal Kingdom), war movies (Gallipoli, Breaker Morant), drama (On the Beach, The Dish), and the uncategorizable (Mad Max, Picnic at Hanging Rock). There's just something about Australia.
If you have any favorites--or any I should steer clear of--please let me know. My Netflix queue needs updating.
And that's that. Be safe, keep writing, and help me pray for an early spring. See you in two weeks.