10 Best Western Classic Movies

Tuesday, November 30 by Wendy Adams

The 10 best western classic movies, which span almost three decades of film making, are all must see films. Each film is unique in story, location, cinematography, and musical contributions. Each classic western has an all star cast and memorable performances.

  1. "She Wore A Yellow ribbon" (1949) – A classic John Ford western starring John Wayne as Captain Nathan Brittles, a U.S. Calvary officer who is struggling with retirement and leaving young inexperienced soldiers to fend for themselves. The beautiful color cinematography of this film won the Academy Award in 1950.
  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 retrieve his niece (young Natalie Wood) who was kidnapped and held captive. Beautifully photographed.
  3. "Duel in the Sun" (1946) – A King Vidor film starring Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotton as good and evi brothers. Jennifer Jones as Pearl Chavez, an orphaned girl who comes to live with the Senator (Lionel Barrymore), his wife (Lillian Gish) 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. 
  4. "The Horse Soldiers" (1959) – Another John Ford classic starring John Wayne and William Holden (Dr. Kendall). Colonel John Marlowe (John Wayne) and troop are sent on a raid behind the Confederate lines. To protect their mission, they take Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers), a plantation mistress, along after she hears the details of their plan. Loosely based the historic raid of Newton Station.
  5. "How the West Was Won" (1962) – John Ford directs this epic tale of the settling of the west through four generations of a pioneer family. The all star cast includes John Wayne, George Peppard, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, and narrated by Spencer Tracy. Must see old western movie.
  6. "Lonely Are the Brave" (1962) This off beat old western stars Kirk Douglas as Jack Burns, Walter Matthau, Gena Rowlands, and George Kennedy. Jack Burns is an aging cowboy resisting the changing times. The movie follows Burns through a journey back to visit an old friend, a stay in  jail for having a bar fight with a one armed man, and his collision with modern society.
  7. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) – A classic John Ford old western filmed in black and white, starring John Wayne as Tom Doniphon, a local rancher handy with a gun , James Stewart as Senator Ransom Stoddard, Vera Miles as Hallie the woman they both love, and Lee Marvin as the sadistic outlaw Liberty Valance. The young lawyer Stoddard move west and is robbed and beaten on the trip. Rescued by Tom, he in taken to Hallie for care. This old western is the story of the battle between good vs. evil, and truth vs. legend.  
  8. "My Darling Clementine" (1964) – John Ford directed this classis western tale of the Gunfight at O.K. Corral starring Henry Fonda. Old western classic movies don’t get much better than this film. Not historically accurate but great performances.
  9. "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. John Wayne won the academy award for his endearing performance. A must see.
  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. This film won four Academy Awards.
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