10 Best Movie Westerns

Wednesday, December 1 by Wendy Adams

Here are the 10 best movie westerns. There are so many westerns to choose from, but only a handful of these films stand out as truly classic works of art.

  1. "True Grit" (1969) – John Wayne at his best plays Rooster J. Cogburn and aging, drunken, one eyed U.S. Marshall who is hired by young Mattie Ross, played by Kim Darby, to track down the man who murdered her father. Glen Campbell plays Texas Ranger La Boeuf who accompanies Rooster and Mattie on the journey. Definitely John Wayne’s best performance that won him the academy award. A must see.
  2. "The Searchers" (1956) – A John Ford masterpiece starring John Wayne as Ethan Edwards, Jeffery Hunter, and Vera Miles. Ethan, returning from the Civil War to his brother’s home, chases Comanche Indians for years to recover his niece (young Natalie Wood) who was taken and held captive. Beautifully photographed on location at Four Corners.
  3. "Once Upon A Time in the West" (1968) – Once of the most popular of the “spaghetti westerns” (Italian-Spanish-American made), this epic western stars an evil Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale as the damsel in distress, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards, classic Jack Elam, and Woody Strode. Great fun and the spaghetti element just adds to the fun.
  4. "Duel in the Sun" (1946) – A King Vidor film starring Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotton as good and evi brothers. Jennifer Jones plays Pearl Chavez, an orphaned girl who comes to live with the Senator (Lionel Barrymore), his wife (Lillian Gish) and the brothers on their ranch. Gregory Peck plays a rare “bad guy” and Jennifer Jones oozes sex from every pore in this lusty film of love and betrayal. 
  5. "Unforgiven" (1992) – Clint Eastwood produced, directed, and starred in this western about an aging former outlaw and gun for hire now living as a farmer. William Munny (Eastwood) comes out of retirement to do one last job. Contains honest account of violence in the old west. Winner of four Academy Awards.
  6. "Shane" (1953) – Directed by George Stevens and starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and Van Heflin, this film won the Academy Award for best cinematography. A drifter named Shane (Ladd) turns out to be a gunslinger who gets pulled into a conflict between a humble homesteader and a ruthless cattle baron.
  7. "Hud" (1963) -  This classic black & white western star Paul Newman as Hud, Brandon De Wilde as Lon, Patricia Neal as Alma, and Melvyn Douglas as Homer, won three Academy Awards. The story centers around Hud who narcissistic and anti-social behavior destroys those around him. Incredible performances from this all star cast. 
  8. "The Far Country" (1954) – Jimmy Stewart at his best as Jeff Webster, who drives his herd of cattle into the lawlessness of Dawson City. The film also stars Walter Brennan, Ruth Roman, Corinne Calvet, and John McIntire. Beautifully photographed.
  9. "The Shootist" (1976) – John Wayne’s last film has him playing J.B. Books, a legendary gunfighter dying of cancer which is ironic as John Wayne was slowly dying of cancer as he made this film. Costarring Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, and Ron Howard.
  10. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) This classic old western was directed by George Roy Hill starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the legendary duo. Newman’s and Redford’s on screen chemistry make this movie fun to watch. The winner of four Academy Awards.