Freeview film of the day: Unforgiven

Only four westerns have won the Oscar for best picture – this is one of them


Unforgiven ★★★★★ 
9.00-11.40pm ITV4


Ah, the western. Often written off as a genre, but perpetually revisited, as recently as Django Unchained and, less illustriously, The Lone Ranger. Simplistic but powerful, its heyday was in the 40s, 50s and 60s, but revisionist additions are continually added to the cowboy canon. Let’s face it, all have Unforgiven to beat. Arguably Clint Eastwood’s finest hour, as both performer and director, it won four Oscars in 1993, including best director and best picture. Set in Wyoming and Kansas, where Clint’s retired bandit is raising two kids on a pig farm, it’s a classic set-up: the ageing gunslinger straps on his holster one last time for a $1,000 bounty and comes up against an evil sheriff (Gene Hackman) after some wrong’uns attack a prostitute. Shoot-outs, ambushes and saloon debates about honour ensue. Richard Harris is good value, too, as the self-mythologising English Bob. If it sends viewers back to old-school classics like Red River or High Noon, all the better.


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