Show cover of How the West Was 'Cast

How the West Was 'Cast

Whether you grew up watching the movies of John Wayne, cut your teeth on Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” trilogy, or consider Kevin Costner to be the screen’s quintessential cowboy star, HOW THE WEST WAS ‘CAST is just the podcast you’ve been waiting for. Join screenwriter and journalist Matthew Chernov and film historian and professor Andrew Patrick Nelson as they discuss the beloved masterpieces, forgotten treasures, and curious cult movies that make up the Western film genre. From the timeless classics of the 1940s and ‘50s, to the bold and bloody titles of the 1960s and ‘70s, to the prestige Westerns of today, HOW THE WEST WAS ‘CAST explores one of cinema’s most fascinating and enduring genres.


Western Movie Books – with Authors Henry C. Parke and Cory Everett
Read any good Western movie books lately? On this page-turning episode, we’re highlighting some of our favorite books about the Western genre. From biographies and coffee table books to scholarly studies and acclaimed film guides, you’ll find plenty of reading recommendations here that will deepen your love of Westerns. And joining us to talk about their own recent Western film books are two authors you’ll definitely enjoying meeting. First, Andrew interviews Henry C. Parke about his new book The Greatest Westerns Ever Made and the People Who Made Them. After that, Matthew chats with Cory Everett about his adorable children’s book My First Spaghetti Western. It’s an episode you’ll want to listen to from cover to cover! Books discussed on the show:The Greatest Westerns Ever Made and the People Who Made ThemMy First Spaghetti Western100 WesternsOnce Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio LeoneHorse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing CowboyJohn Wayne: The Life and LegendAmerican Titan: Searching for John WayneBloody Sam: The Life and Films of Sam Peckinpah"If They Move . . . Kill 'Em!": The Life and Times of Sam PeckinpahHang 'Em High: 110 Years of Western Movie PostersClick HERE to watch the trailer for Cory Everett’s My First Spaghetti Western
79:36 3/18/24
Horizon: An American Saga (2024) – Trailer Reaction
The official trailer for Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga was just released, and Matthew Chernov and Andrew Patrick Nelson are sharing their first reactions to it in this special episode! What clues to the film’s story and characters are hidden within this 3-minute trailer? What tone is Costner going for this time around, and how will his wildly ambitious cinematic epic fit into his already impressive Western filmography? There’s a lot here to chew on, so join Matt and Andrew as they break down the images, themes, dialogue, atmosphere and emotion on display in the brand new trailer for Horizon!Check out the Horizon: An American Saga trailer for yourself RIGHT HERE. To receive an exclusive link to our “Secret Episode,” email us at, and tell us what you think of our podcast.
52:03 2/28/24
A "Secret" Announcement from How the West Was 'Cast!
Want to hear a secret episode of How the West Was ‘Cast? We’ve recorded a new hourlong show that won’t be published online. But we’ll gladly send you the secret episode in exchange for reviewing our show on the Apple Podcast platform, or the Audible platform, or whatever platform you use. Simply review our podcast somewhere, take a screenshot of your review and email it to us, or just email us a message letting us know you reviewed the show, and we’ll send you an exclusive link to the secret episode. You can reach us by email at: howthewestwascast@gmail.comThere are two additional ways to receive the secret episode. First, you can spread the word about How the West Was ‘Cast on social media. Share a link to our show on your Facebook page. Tweet your thoughts about our podcast on your Twitter account. Or mention our show on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc. Then email us a message letting us know that you spread the word on social media, and in exchange we’ll send you a link to the secret episode.And the last way to receive the secret episode is simply to email us directly and let us know what our podcast means to you. What do you enjoy most about How the West Was ‘Cast? What are your favorite episodes? What films would you like us to cover in the future? Again, you can reach us by email at: howthewestwascast@gmail.comSo that’s our “secret” offer. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
06:15 12/26/23
Warner Brothers and Westerns - with Author Chris Yogerst
This year marks the centennial anniversary of Warner Brothers, the legendary Hollywood studio founded by Harry, Albert, Sam, and Jack Warner. To commemorate the occasion, we're joined by author Chris Yogerst, whose latest book - The Warner Brothers - was recently published by the University Press of Kentucky. On this fascinating episode, Chris and Andrew Patrick Nelson discuss the history of the Western film genre at Warner Brothers, and they look at several of the most memorable and important movies the studio released.To purchase a copy of Chris's new book, The Warner Brothers, in hardcover, audio, or digital download, visit the book's Amazon page.
50:29 11/1/23
Revenge of the Horror Westerns
It’s the Halloween season, so we’re returning to the terrifying topic of horror Westerns! Join us as we discuss, dissect, and dismember six of the scariest, eeriest, and just plain weirdest Westerns ever made. From a moody 1959 vampire film to an occult oddity released in the '70s to a would-be Hollywood blockbuster from 2010, these macabre movies are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. And as a blood-curdling bonus, we’ve got a special interview with author and editor Patrick R. McDonough at the very end of the show. Don’t miss our creepy conversation with Patrick about his brand new horror Western anthology, Hot Iron and Cold Blood. It’s a collection of 16 disturbing short stories that will shock even the bravest Western movie fans. To order your very own copy of Hot Iron and Cold Blood in paperback or digital download, visit the book’s Amazon page. 
92:59 10/5/23
BONUS EPISODE! Into the Wild Frontier - with Showrunner Paul Epstein
On this special bonus episode, we take a look at the factual Western drama series Into the Wild Frontier, which is entering its fourth season on the INSP network. Our very own Andrew Patrick Nelson has appeared numerous times on the series, providing info and commentary about the legendary figures and historic events covered on the show. Joining us on podcast to discuss the series is Emmy-nominated filmmaker Paul Epstein, the executive producer and showrunner on Into the Wild Frontier. Don’t miss this engaging conversation between Andrew and Paul, who talk about a wide range of topics related to the Western film and TV genre!To learn more about Paul Epstein and his work, visit the Paul Epstein Productions website. For additional information about Into the Wild Frontier, visit the INSP network webpage. 
38:33 8/14/23
Little Big Man (1970)
1970 was an important year for Indian-themed Westerns, with A Man Called Horse and Soldier Blue both released within months of each other. But by far the most popular Indian Western of that year was Arthur Penn’s Oscar-nominated Little Big Man. On this episode, Andrew Patrick Nelson discusses the film’s public reception, its Vietnam war symbolism, the acclaimed performance of supporting actor Chief Dan George, and many other issues surrounding the Dustin Hoffman classic. The episode also features a special bonus interview with documentarian Alex Sherratt, who co-directed The Real Wild West, a new 4-part docuseries available exclusively on the Curiosity Stream platform.To watch a trailer for The Real Wild West and to subscribe to the platform, visit the Curiosity Stream website. 
78:13 8/10/23
Overlooked Westerns of the 1990s
Return with us now to the decade that gave the world Zima®, Beanie Babies, and the Macarena. That's right, we're traveling back to the 1990s for a discussion about six overlooked Westerns that deserve more attention! You won't find iconic '90s classics like Dances with Wolves, Unforgiven, orTombstone on this particular show. Instead, we're focusing on '90s Westerns that have been either ignored, forgotten, or underappreciated for far too long. So toss a burger on your George Foreman Grill®, lace up your inline skates, and download this special flashback episode of How the West Was 'Cast! Be sure to subscribe to our new YouTube channel! You can find us on YouTube at @westernpodcast.
64:37 6/1/23
Ride Lonesome (1959) - with Writer & Producer Kirk Ellis
Written by Burt Kennedy and directed by Budd Boetticher, the intense 1959 Western Ride Lonesome stars legendary actor Randolph Scott as a bounty hunter traveling across a desolate landscape on a secret quest for vengeance. Join us for a fascinating conversation with two-time Emmy-winning screenwriter and producer Kirk Ellis, whose new book - titled Ride Lonesome - offers uniquely personal insights about one of the most popular Westerns of the '50s.Kirk Ellis's book, Ride Lonesome, is published by the University of New Mexico Press, and is part of the Reel West series, edited by Andrew Patrick Nelson.
67:23 3/10/23
Blood on the Moon (1948) - with Film Scholar Alan K. Rode
The gripping story of a down-and-out cowhand who becomes ensnared in a complex scheme to dupe a local rancher out of a fortune, the moody 1948 film Blood on the Moon combines the mythic milieu of the Hollywood Western with the dark psychological themes of a classic noir. On this engaging episode, Andrew Patrick Nelson chats with acclaimed author, biographer and film noir expert Alan K. Rode, whose latest book – titled Blood on the Moon – offers a fascinating analysis of this influential Western. Alan K. Rode’s book, Blood on the Moon, is published by the University of New Mexico Press, and is part of the Reel West series, edited by Andrew Patrick Nelson. And if you're interested in real-life Western history, be sure to check out The Wild West Extravaganza. It's a show we highly recommend. 
55:05 2/28/23
A Tribute to Western Movie Hats - with Actor & Hatmaker Travis Eller
Hold on to your hats, folks! On this episode, we're taking an in-depth look at some of the greatest Western movie hats of all time. You'll hear about iconic hats worn by John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Burt Lancaster, Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Lee Marvin, and many more of your favorite stars. Joining us to talk about Western hats is actor Travis Eller, who owns and operates Ugly Outlaw Hats, a custom hat shop that specializes in creating authentic Western-style hats. Visit Ugly Outlaw Hats to browse their collection, and contact Travis directly to order your very own Western hat. Tell 'em How the West Was 'Cast sent ya!
96:37 12/7/22
Western Film Scores - with Musician Mark Swan
Think about your favorite Western and chances are you can practically hear the rousing theme music playing in your head. On this melodious new episode, musician Mark Swan, from the band Natalie Pryce, joins us to discuss six Western film scores that we highly recommend. It’s an entertaining look at classic movie music from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘90s. We also chat about Mark’s amazing new album, Frontera USA, which is the soundtrack to an imaginary Spaghetti Western! So get ready to hum along with some of the greatest Western film scores ever composed.To purchase and download a copy of Mark’s album, Frontera USA, visit the Natalie Pryce Bandcamp page. This episode is brought to you in part by Ugly Outlaw Hats. Visit their online store today to browse their collection of authentic handmade Western-style cowboy hats. 
91:45 10/20/22
Animated Westerns - with 'Fievel Goes West' Director Phil Nibbelink
On this supersized episode, we’re discussing animated Westerns! From the charming 1956 Disney short A Cowboy Needs a Horse to the dazzling 2011 Oscar-winner Rango, you'll hear about many of the most beloved animated Westerns of all time. And joining us to talk about his own amazing contribution to the genre is acclaimed animator and director Phil Nibbelink, whose 1991 classic An American Tail: Fievel Goes West remains one of the most popular movies of its kind. It’s an "animated" conversation you won’t want to miss!
89:38 7/25/22
BONUS EPISODE! The Pioneertown International Film Festival
Later this month, the Pioneertown International Film Festival makes its debut in California’s High Desert region, kicking off three days of classic Westerns, world premieres, documentaries, shorts, concerts and live workshops. On this special bonus episode, we chat with Julian Pinder, the co-founder of the festival, and Todd Luoto, the festival’s head programmer, to find out more about the exciting Western-themed events they’re planning!For tickets to the festival, or for info about the screening schedule, visit their website. This special bonus episode is brought to you in part by Outlaw Soaps. Visit their website to purchase their fantastic hand-made soaps, body washes, lotions, colognes and more.
41:25 5/12/22
High Noon (1952) – with Film Historian Austin Fisher
This year marks the 70th anniversary of High Noon. To celebrate that auspicious occasion, we’ve invited award-winning author, professor and cultural historian Austin Fisher on the show to talk about the film’s reputation as the quintessential Cold War-era Western. Is High Noon really an allegory for the Hollywood blacklist and the anti-communist investigations of the 1940s and ‘50s? Or has that popular reading been overstated to a large degree? We discuss that topic, and much more, on this provocative new episode.Also, stay tuned until the very end of the show for a lively chat with the founders of Outlaw Soap, who’ve sponsored our High Noon episode.Austin Fisher’s essay Revisiting the Blacklist Western: A Reception Study of High Noon is published by the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies.And very special thanks to songstress Sarah Vista for allowing us to use her brilliant cover version of the theme to High Noon on the podcast. 
74:36 5/6/22
Heaven's Gate (1980) - with 'Cimino' Biographer Charles Elton
More than 40 years after its initial release, Michael Cimino's ambitious Western epic Heaven's Gate remains one of the most divisive films of all time. Some still see it as a colossal failure in every way, while others (like our very own Matthew Chernov) regard it as an astonishing work of art. On this special episode, we speak with author Charles Elton about his new book Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision. Join us for a revealing interview about the controversial Oscar-winning director whose full life story has been shrouded in mystery... until now.Charles Elton's Cimino: The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate, and the Price of a Vision is available in hardcover, audiobook and ebook from Abrams Press. 
64:51 4/7/22
Revenge Westerns - with Novelist Tony Healey
If it's true that revenge is a dish best served cold, then this episode of How the West Was Cast is damn near frozen! Join us as we welcome author Tony Healey for a look at some of our favorite revenge-themed Westerns. You'll hear about films like Valdez is Coming, Hannie Caulder, Open Range, and many more. We also discuss Tony's recent novels in the popular Ralph Compton Western series. So put on your headphones and prepare for retribution! For further study on the subject of this episode, here are links to three books that Andrew Patrick Nelson cites during the show:Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study by Alexandra Heller-NicholsThe New Avengers: Feminism, Femininity, and the Rape-Revenge Cycle by Jacinta ReadShowdown: Confronting Modern America in the Western Film by John H. Lenihan
64:38 1/12/22
Men of the West: Ford, Wayne, Leone, Eastwood
If there's a quaternity of artists whose work in the Western genre continues to attract legions of fans and inspire generations of filmmakers, it's most certainly John Ford, John Wayne, Sergio Leone, and Clint Eastwood.  On this episode, co-host Andrew Patrick Nelson discusses the profound impact these four giants had on the genre, and reveals that many of the popular notions we have about them may not paint the full picture. It's a fascinating lecture that was originally delivered at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in November of 2017, and has been revised and rerecorded for this episode.For more information about the original multidisciplinary museum exhibition, titled "Once Upon a Time... The Western," visit the MMFA website. To learn more about the award-winning publication that accompanied the show (and to buy your own copy), visit Amazon.
52:43 10/28/21
The Hateful Eight (2015) - with Costume Designer Courtney Hoffman
Join us for a frank and funny conversation with filmmaker Courtney Hoffman, who discusses the dazzling costumes she designed for Jared Moshe's DEAD MAN'S BURDEN and Quentin Tarantino's THE HATEFUL EIGHT. We also talk about THE GOOD TIME GIRLS, an acclaimed short Western starring Laura Dern and Garret Dillahunt that Courtney both wrote and directed. It's a lively interview with one of the genre's brightest new stars.THE GOOD TIME GIRLS is currently available to watch on YouTube and at Courtney's website -
64:05 8/25/21
Cowboys & Indians Magazine: The 100 Best Westerns Ever Made - with Film Critic Joe Leydon
Join us for a conversation with esteemed film critic Joe Leydon about the new "100 Greatest Western Movies" list he compiled for Cowboys & Indians Magazine. During the episode, Joe reveals why certain films ranked high, while others - like "McCabe and Mrs. Miller," for example - don't appear at all. It's a lively discussion with one of the foremost authorities on the Western film genre. 
69:10 7/16/21
The Comedy Western Roundup!
On this side-splitting episode, co-hosts Andrew Patrick Nelson and Matthew Chernov look at six comedy Westerns made between 1925 and 1998. From a silent classic about the friendship between a man and a cow to the final film of a Saturday Night Live legend, this rollicking roundup of titles is guaranteed to tickle your funny bone. It's the only podcast you'll ever hear that spends as much time talking about drag queen Divine as it does discussing John Wayne. 
64:19 6/14/21
The Ballad of Little Jo (1993) - with Filmmaker Maggie Greenwald
Join us for an interview with award-winning writer-director Maggie Greenwald, whose superb movie "The Ballad of Little Jo" is one of the best Westerns of the '90s. We discuss Maggie's love of the genre, her early work as an indie filmmaker, and we get the inside story about the making of her acclaimed Western. It's a conversation you won't want to miss!
70:25 4/12/21
Jesse James On Screen
Film historian Andrew Patrick Nelson provides an illuminating look at the cinematic representation of Jesse James by examining six of the most successful and best-known Westerns about the legendary outlaw. From Henry King's 1939 classic "Jesse James" to Andrew Dominik's Oscar-nominated drama "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" from 2007, Nelson reveals the complex role that media played in shaping James' public persona.
47:41 3/27/21
Vera Cruz (1954) - with Outlaw Songstress Sarah Vista
On this episode, we're heading south of the border to discuss the influential 1954 classic "Vera Cruz." Joining us on the show is award-winning recording artist Sarah Vista, whose brand new album - Songs From the Silver Screen - is already a Western fan favorite. In addition to sharing her thoughts on the film, the incomparable Ms. Vista gives us an inside look at her latest release. It's a conversation you can't afford to miss!
63:45 2/26/21
Hondo (1953)
John Wayne's beloved 1953 classic HONDO is arguably the greatest Western the actor made that *wasn't* directed by either John Ford or Howard Hawks. Join co-hosts Andrew Patrick Nelson and Matthew Chernov as they discuss a film that's part frontier adventure, part romantic love story, and part 3D extravaganza. If you're a fan of the Duke, you won't want to miss this super-sized episode!
89:42 1/28/21
The Best Saloon Girls, Bartenders and Bar Fights
Thirsty for a new episode? Then pour yourself a shot of whiskey and join Andrew Patrick Nelson and Matthew Chernov as they discuss their favorite saloon girls, bartenders, and bar fights. From the outrageously brutal barroom slugfest in John Wayne’s 1942 classic “The Spoilers” to Marilyn Monroe’s sultry performance as a saloon singer in the 1954 adventure “River of No Return,” we explore some of the greatest bar scenes in movie history. And as an added bonus, we've got a surprise interview at the very end of the show that you won't want to miss.
69:00 11/29/20
The Top Horror Westerns
In celebration of the Halloween season, join Andrew Patrick Nelson and Matthew Chernov as they take a terrifying look at some of the weirdest, wildest, and just plain scariest Horror Westerns of the past six decades. From a zero-budget quickie released in 1958 to an obscure TV movie broadcast in 1971 to a fiendish anthology film made in 1990, these six Westerns are guaranteed to give you a nightmare or two. Listen at your own risk!
60:15 10/28/20
The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)
Hi-Yo, Silver! Join us as we discuss the 1981 box office flop "The Legend of the Lone Ranger." Is it the cinematic atrocity that critics claimed it was when it first premiered, or could there be more to this soft-focus homage to Hollywood's B-Westerns than was originally thought? Co-hosts Andrew Patrick Nelson and Matthew Chernov analyze everything from the film's magnificent score, to its spectacular stunt work, to its lackluster poster, to its controversial lead performance, plus so much more. If you're a fan of the Masked Rider of the Plains, you won't want to miss this episode!
78:36 9/23/20
The Ballad of Lefty Brown (2017) - with Filmmaker Jared Moshe
An interview with acclaimed writer/director Jared Moshe about his two dynamic Westerns, "Dead Man's Burden" and "The Ballad of Lefty Brown." Among the many topics covered, Jared discusses his introduction to the Western genre, why he decided to shoot in Montana on 35mm, and what it was like to work with Bill Pullman, Peter Fonda, and Kathy Baker on his latest movie. He also provides a tantalizing hint about a potential third Western that he's hoping to write and direct in the future. Don't miss this episode!
64:17 8/19/20
Western Movies Today: History, Criticism, Production
On this bonus episode, Andrew Patrick Nelson delivers a lecture on the ways in which the makers of recent Westerns like MEEK'S CUTOFF (2010) and HOSTILES (2017) discuss their work in relation to classics like WAGON MASTER (1950) and THE SEARCHERS (1956). How their understanding of the genre influences the movies they make, and what it means for our understanding of the Western's rich history, are just two of the intriguing topics covered in this exploration of the current state of the Western movie.
46:01 7/21/20

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