Old Western Movies

Thursday, March 24 by Travis Petersen

With western remakes like "True Grit" having success with critics and audiences alike, westerns are making a comeback in movie theaters. But there is nothing like the old western movies from the heyday of Hollywood. Stars like Henry Fonda and John Wayne helped to define cinema at the middle of the century, and the westward expansion of old western movies helped to define a truly American art form. Here are some of the best old western movies that helped shape cinema today.

  1. "Stagecoach." Western directing great John Ford teamed with John Wayne in a star-making role as the good-hearted outlaw the Ringo Kid, tagging along with the titular coach as it travels across Indian country. Adventure, a love story, and plenty of horse-riding, gun-toting action make "Stagecoach" a true classic, a genre-defining film among old western movies.
  2. "My Darling Clementine." Ford took on the story of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and their Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in yet another early western classic. Though later films have taken a more realistic, darker look at Earp and Holliday, this winner among old western movies is a mythical masterpiece.
  3. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Paul Newman and Robert Redford helped along the changing of the western hero in this more recent entry on this list of the greatest old western movies. Funny, sexy and exciting, "Butch and Sundance" takes lovable outlaws to their illogical extreme, as Newman and Redford flee to Bolivia to escape the law. It all ends with the rebellious outlaws facing down their pursuers in one of the iconic final scenes of the golden age of filmmaking.
  4. "The Magnificent Seven." An all-star cast highlights this remake of the "The Seven Samurai." In it, Yul Brynner leads a gang hired to defend a small town against their oppressors. James Coburn steals the show as a man who brings knives to a gunfight and wins.
  5. "The Wild Bunch." Sam Peckinpah's best film is a bloody ballet, a dark and devious younger brother to "The Magnificent Seven." Among old western movies, this one may have had the most influence in shaping the bloody westerns that are more popular among film critics and audiences today. The story has a group of aging outlaws in the dying frontier searching for one last score. Of course, everything goes wrong, and the gunfight that closes the film is one of the bloodiest and most exciting in the history of old western movies.