While the Western movie era peaked in the 1960s, viewers have not lost their lust for hardened gunslingers, rugged outlaws, and the protagonist cowboy who is always in search of his moral compass. And while Hollywood still produces a noteworthy Western every couple of years, no one can deny that during their prime, Westerns were the manly man’s movie genre.
So, dust off your six-shooter and saddle up to the 35 greatest Westerns of all time.
35 Greatest Westerns of All Time:
35. “Vera Cruz” (1954)
Lively, brash, entertaining, and absurdly enjoyable — you wouldn’t think it would work as a Western, but it does.
34. “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943)
A morality plot with a killer twist ending? What’s not to like?
33. “Seven Men from Now” (1956)
At only 80 minutes long it’s crammed full of ambiguities, ironies, and moral conundrums.
32. “Giant” (1956)
It’s a huge take on the Western (no pun intended). It quite literally magnifies everything to epic proportions — the cast, the landscapes, and even the multi-generational storyline.
31. “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1971)
Let’s call this a revisionist Western. It’s is a filthy-looking movie that is a combination of art, pain and eroticism.
30. “Rancho Notorious” (1966)
Probably the strangest Western ever made, yet, it’s still a badass Western.
29. “Blazing Saddles” (1974)
A Western revolutionary, not-politically-correct comedy directed by Mel Brooks.
28. “Django” (1966)
If you liked Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” this movie was his inspiration.
27. “Dances with Wolves” (1990)
No, it’s not the manliest or most violent movie, but you can thank Kevin Costner for breathing life back into the Western genre that was left for dead.
26. “My Darling Clementine” (1946)
Director John Ford’s masterful take on the legend of the O.K. Corral shoot-out. It is perhaps Ford’s most beautiful film.
25. “Open Range” (2003)
While there is only one shootout scene in the entire movie, it is well worth the wait.
24. “Jeremiah Johnson” (1972)
A constant reminder of no matter how hard you try to get away from the world, the world will always find you.
23. “The Shooting” (1968)
Exceptional Western. The final mind-boggling, slow-motion showdown makes the film that much more satisfying.
22. “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” (1948)
It features one of the most memorable movie quotes that would later be made famous in another movie: “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.”
21. “The Shootist” (1976)
Nobody wants to die alone. Even sad, lonely gunslingers.
20. “Winchester ‘73” (1950)
It’s a movie about a gun. How manly is that?
19. “3:10 to Yuma” (2007)
Remakes are rarely better than the original. This is the exception.
18. “True Grit” (1969, 2010)
Whether it’s John Wayne or Jeff Bridges, both are equally worth your time and attention.
17. “No Country For Old Men” (2007)
Violence, mayhem, wild shootouts and murder sprees; the Coen Brothers direct a phenomenal cast.
16. “Shane” (1966)
The classic Western retelling of David and Goliath.
15. “Stagecoach” (1939)
The landscapes make as much of an impression on the film as John Wayne.
14. “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (2007)
Imagine a Western told as a historical document, a social commentary, a folk ballad and a great novel, all in one.
13. “Red River” (1948)
A bold, expansive epic with a knotty psychological plot at its core.
12. “Lonesome Dove” (1989)
No, it wasn’t a movie per se, it was a TV mini-series, but it’s every bit as artistically valid as half the movies on this list.
11. “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962)
A musing on how the West made men into legends, legends into men, and how the reality was often very different to the myth.
10. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
The mother of all buddy movies.
9. “The Magnificent Seven” (1960)
Who cares that it’s a Western remake of Seven Samurai, (1954) that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s one of the best shoot-em-up movies of all-time.
8. “Unforgiven” (1992)
Nope, this definitely isn’t your grandfather’s Western.
7. “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976)
The ultimate outlaw movie starring the ultimate outlaw.
6. “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1965)
Three things make this a must-see for Western movie lovers: (1) Director Sergio Leone (2) Henry Fonda playing one of the best ‘bad guy’ roles and (3) the “Man with the Harmonica” theme song.
5. “The Wild Bunch” (1969)
This Sam Peckinpah film displayed violence, rage-fueled savagery and explicit carnage, which was a cinematic first for Westerns.
4. “The Searchers” (1955)
One of the most beautiful pictures ever committed to film. Its cinematic photography captured the American West, unlike anything that had been seen before. Besides, it has John Wayne at the peak of his career.
3. “High Noon” (1952)
A deceptive and sophisticated film, it revolves around the simple notion of a man-against-the-mob mentality. Even when everyone you love abandons you, always stand up for what you believe in.
2. “Tombstone” (1993)
Gunfights, saloons, drinking, gambling, outlaw shenanigans, more gunfights, memorable quotes and mustaches aplenty.
1. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)
The final and best-known film in the “Dollars” trilogy, this Spaghetti western is arguably the most famous depiction of the violent, opportunistic American West on film. When most people think of Clint Eastwood, this is what they think.
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