The top 10 western movies all do a good job of mixing action and drama. Some of them are basically crowd pleasers, while others are striving for something more profound. At their best, western movies can be a window into a particularly exciting time in history. It’s a genre with a lot of clichés, which can be a hindrance, but in the right hands, these common themes can be molded into something truly special.

  1. “The Searchers” by director John Ford, is considered by many to be the greatest western of all time. The movie stars John Wayne as a drifter with a dark past, returning home to visit with his estranged family. The action really kicks in when his niece is captured by a raiding party of Comanche’s.

  2. “Unforgiven” is a western directed by Clint Eastwood where he also stars. It’s about an old outlaw who’s desperate for money and agrees to assassinate someone. Out of all the top ten western movies, it’s probably the most realistic.

  3. “Red River” is a great western about a cattl drive, which is directed by Howard Hawks. This movie stars John Wayne in a very interesting role, and it has a good mix of action and drama.

  4. “Tombstone” probably has the best dialogue of any film on this list of the top ten western movies. Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell star in this film, which deals with the famous historical gunfight at the O.K Corral. 

  5. “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance” is one of John Fords best westerns, and it’s one of the darkest entries on this list of the top ten western movies. It stars Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne. It deals with a situation where one man does a favor for another by committing a murder, and ultimately regrets it deeply.

  6. Sam Peckinpah was a fine director of westerns, and “The Wild Bunch” is often considered his greatest achievement. The film tells the story of a group of bank robbers fleeing from the law.

  7. Another Peckinpah western that’s easily one of the top ten western movies is “Ride The High Country.” This was made earlier in Peckinpah’s career, and it’s not nearly as dark. It tells the story of aging lawmen hired to do a dangerous job and the conflict that develops between them.

  8. “High Plains Drifter” is a Clint Eastwood western about an outlaw who takes over a town in exchange for a promise to protect the citizens. The conclusion to this film is somewhat strange and otherworldly, making it one of the more interesting films on this list of the top ten western movies.

  9. “Western Union” is a film by Fritz Lang, who was better known for his work as a German expressionist director, and as one of the inventors of film noir. The movie is about the establishment of the Western Union lines, which provided communication across the country during old west times. Even with such mild subject matter, the film ends up being incredibly dark and disturbing, and it will ultimately surprise most audiences. 

  10. “Rio Bravo” is a western directed by Howard Hawks that stars John Wayne. This film is about a town under siege by a group of outlaws, and it follows a lawman and his deputies as they deal with personal struggles and face down the bad guys.