30 Most Memorable Western Movies of All Time 

30 Most Memorable Western Movies of All Time 

Since the beginning of American cinema, western films have been a staple.

Movies of the Western genre are Set in the American WestIt was most common between the 1850s and the end of 19th century. It has been a stable genre, no pun intended! It has been the starting point for many others. hybrid genres Western musicals, Western comedies and Western horror are all great options. Westerns.

Westerns are a genre whose history is as long as any other. According to David Gregory, documentarian: “It has been estimated at up to 40% of all films made prior to 1960 were Westerns.”

The category was most popular in the middle and early decades of the 20th Century, with many becoming cult classics. However, films were still made even during droughts for Westerns in late ’70s to ’80s and ’90s. Starring in Western films has also been a way for actors to make their mark. Clint Eastwood, John WayneJames Stewart Jeff BridgesTo name a few,

Bridges was the Oscar-nominated star of the genre titles in 2017. True Grit And Hell or High Water, Submitted The Hollywood Reporter“Everything’s magnified: The struggle, the serious decisions, what you do and all that courage, all that. In reference to Westerns, I enjoy and appreciate the ambiguity in telling right from wrong.

The genre may not be as popular today, but Westerns have remained a prominent category in the industry for the past ten years. True Grit, Hell or High Water And Django Unchained.

Below is a list of the 30 best Western movies ever made.

“The Great Train Robbery” (1903)

In GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY 1903, train is held up by robbers

In “The Great Train Robbery”, thieves hold the train up

Howard Mandelbaum/Everett Collection

One of the earliest Westerns ever made in America, the film shows a group of outlaws who rob passengers from a train and threaten their operator. They shoot a passenger as they try to flee the scene. The sheriff and his men begin a manhunt for the men.

‘Stagecoach’ (1939)

Andy Devine, George Bancroft John Carradine Donald Meek, Louise Platt Claire Trevor John Wayne in STAGECOACH

Andy Devine, George Bancroft and John Carradine in ‘Stagecoach.

20th Century Fox Films/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

John Ford directed the Oscar-winning film. It follows a group of passengers on a stagecoach. They include a drunken doctor and two women. A bank manager robs his client’s money, and escapes outlaw Ringo Kid. They must confront Geronimo as they travel across the wild west to New Mexico during the 1880s.

‘Red River’ (1948)

Montgomery Clift and John Wayne in RED RIVER 1948.

Montgomery Clift and John Wayne in ‘Red River.

Courtesy Everett Collection

Tom Dunston (John Wayne), has spent 14 years building his Texas cattle ranch. Now he is ready to drive them all to the Missouri market. They set out on their journey with Nadine Groot (Walter Brennan), Dunston’s trailhand, and Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift), Dunston’s protege. In the film directed and produced by Arthur Rosson and Howard Hawks, Dunston and Garth start to fight, which leads to a tension-filled voyage.

‘Winchester ’73’ (1950)

James Stewart, Millard Mitchell and Tony Curtis in WINCHESTER ’73, 1950.

James Stewart, Millard Mitchell and Tony Curtis in “Winchester ’73”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Lin McAdam (James Stewart), finds himself following after a rifle he won in a contest but was taken by Dutch Henry Brown (Millard Mitchell). Anthony Mann directed the film. McAdam makes every effort to retrieve the rifle and even ends up in a shootout.

‘High Noon’ (1952)

Gary Cooper, HIGH NOON 1952.

Gary Cooper, ‘High Noon’ 1952

CBS Films/Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Fred Zinnemann directed the movie. Gary Cooper plays Will Kane, a former marshal, as he prepares to leave a small New Mexico town with Amy, played by Grace Kelly. Kane learnt that Frank Miller, a local criminal whom he had turned in, was freed and is now seeking revenge. Kane must fight Miller and his crew alone.

‘The Searchers’ (1956)

Harry Carey Jr. John Wayne and Hank Worden in THE EARCHERS 1956.

Harry Carey Jr. John Wayne, Hank Worden and Hank Worden in “The Searchers”

Courtesy Everett Collection

The FilmJohn Ford’s film, “The Greatest Love of All,” shows how one man will go to great lengths to support his family. Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), returns home to Texas after the Civil War and learns that his brother’s family members have been killed or taken hostage by Comanches. He sets out on a dangerous mission to save the remaining members, including his niece and her adopted brother.

‘Rio Bravo’ (1959)

John Wayne and Dean Martin in RIO BRAVO 1959.

John Wayne and Dean Martin in “Rio Bravo”

Courtesy Everett Collection

John Wayne plays John T. Chance, a small-town sheriff who arrests Joe Burdette (Claude Akins), for murder. He must then face Nathan Burdette (John Russell), who wants Burdette out of jail. Howard Hawks directs the film. Chance takes on Nathan with the help of an elderly deputy and a young gunfighter.

“The Magnificent Seven” (1960)

McQueen and Coburn. Buchholtz, Brynner. Dexter. Vaughn. Bronson in THE MAGNIFICENT SIXEN, 1960.

McQueen and Coburn in “The Magnificent Seven”

Courtesy Everett Collection

A small Mexican farming community is terrorized every year by a band o’ outlaws. Many of the residents hire seven American gunmen as protection. The FilmJohn Sturges directs the camera as John Sturges follows the gunslingers as the train and prepare the village to receive the outlaws.

‘One-Eyed Jacks’ (1961)

Karl Malden in Marlon brando in ONE EYED JACKS, 1961.

Karl Malden and Marlon brando in “One-Eyed Jacks”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Outlaw Rio (Marlon brando) and Dad Longworth (Karl Malden), are escaping from law after a bank robbery. But Dad has other plans. Brando directs the film. Rio is captured and Dad betrays Rio. Rio escapes prison years later and he pursues his ex-partner, now a California sheriff, for vengeance.

‘Ride the High Country (1962)

Mariette Hartley and Ron Starr, Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, in RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY 1962.

Mariette Hartley and Ron Starr, Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, in ‘Ride the High Country.’

Courtesy Everett Collection

Sam Peckinpah directs the film. In the film, Steve Judd (Joel McCrea), a retired lawyer hires Gil Westrum (Randolph Scott), and Heck (his young protege Heck) to help him transport a gold shipment from bank through a dangerous area. But Gil and Heck come up with a plan to steal the precious metal. The three get involved with a woman who is trying to escape her father’s fiance.

“A Fistful Of Dollars” (1964).

Clint Eastwood, A FISTFUL of DOLLARS 1964

Clint Eastwood in “A Fistful Of Dollars”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Joe, a drifter gunman, enters San Miguel, Mexico to learn about a power struggle between two groups — John Baxter (Wolfgang Lukschy), and Ramon Rojo. (Gian Maria Volonte). Sergio Leone directed the film. Joe finds himself on the wrong side, playing both to his advantage.

“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966).

Clint Eastwood, THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY 1966

Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Clint Eastwood stars in this Western classic. It follows three men on a dangerous journey who all want to find gold. Sergio Leone directed the film. Blondie, The Good is a professional gunslinger and ends up with Tuco, The Ugly (Eli Wallach), a Mexican outlaw. They both discover that $200,000 worth gold was buried in a cemetery as Tuco attempts to kill Blondie. Each man has his own information about the location so they must keep each others alive as they embark on a journey to find it. Angel Eyes, The Bad (Lee Van Cleef), a hitman, discovers more about the gold. This leads to Blondie, Tuco and others joining forces once again to grab the gold before anyone else.

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ (1968).

Henry Fonda, ONCE UPON AN IME IN THE WEST 1968.

Henry Fonda in “Once Upon a Time in the West”

Courtesy Everett Collection

A woman moves from New Orleans, Louisiana to Utah to find her husband and family dead. She learns that the man responsible for the murder was Cheyenne (Jason Robards), a well-known bandit. She teams up with him to find the true killer, Frank (Henry Fonda). They are also assisted by a mysterious gunslinger who is on a mission to punish them. Sergio Leone directs the film.

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)

Robert Redford and Paul Newman, BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCEKID, 1969.

Robert Redford and Paul Newman star in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Film Corp./ Courtesy Everett Collection

The Film Based on real-life outlaws, the film is set in a time when western civilization is becoming more civilized. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a small gang and are on the run from a special group who begin following them after their regular train robbery. The group always seems to be behind them, no matter how far they travel. Butch suggested that they travel to Bolivia when they finally escape. George Roy Hill directed the film.

‘True Grit’ (1969)

Kim Darby and John Wayne in TRUE GRIT 1969.

Kim Darby and John Wayne in ‘True Grit.

Courtesy Everett Collection

Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), sets out to find justice for her father’s murderer. She hires U.S. Marshal “Rooster,” Cogburn (John Wayne), is hired by her to help her track down Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey). Along the way, a Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), joins the manhunt in an attempt to capture Chaney. Chaney was accused of the murder of a Texas senator. They all embark on the dangerous trek together in the movie directed by Henry Hathaway.

‘The Wild Bunch (1969)

In THE WILD BUNCH 1969, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and William Holden.

In “The Wild Bunch”, Ben Johnson, Warren Oates and William Holden are portrayed by Ernest Borgnine

Courtesy Everett Collection

The film, directed by Sam Peckinpah, is set in 1913 and follows The Wild Bunch as they attempt one final robbery before retiring. William Holden plays the outlaw Pike Bishop. He and his gang eventually make it to Mexico to get the job. They end up fighting their enemies in a brutal last stand. The film also stars Ernest Borgnine and Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, and Robert Ryan.

‘Buck and the Preacher (1972)

Harry Belafonte and Ruby Dee in BUCK AND THE PEACHER, 1972.

Harry Belafonte and Ruby Dee star in “Buck and the Preacher”, 1972.

Courtesy Everett Collection

Post-Civil War Buck (Sidney Poitier), an ex-soldier and trail guide, helps former slaves settle in West Virginia. One point, Preacher (Harry Belafonte), a con artist joins the group and clashes against Buck. The two must learn to work together when Deshay (Cameron Mitchell), leads a group of bounty hunters who attempt to bring the freed slaves home to Louisiana. Sidney Poitier, Joseph Sargent and Joseph Sargent direct the film.

“The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976).

Clint Eastwood and Chief Dan George in THE OUTLAW JOOSEY WALES 1976.

Clint Eastwood and Chief Dan George in “The Outlaw Josey Wales”

Courtesy Everett Collection

Union men led by Capt. Terrill (Bill McKinney) is killed by Union men. Wales takes revenge and joins the Confederate Army. He refuses to surrender his weapons and surrender after the war ends. Josey flees to Texas, where he meets settlers who offer a new way of life. However, a bounty is placed on his head. The film was also directed by Eastwood.

‘Dance With Wolves (1990)

Graham Greene and Kevin Costner in DANCES WITH THE WOLVES, 1990.

Graham Greene and Kevin Costner in “Dance with Wolves”

Orion Pictures Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection

Kevin Costner directs and stars in the film. It follows Lt. John Dunbar (Costner), a Civil War soldier who develops a relationship to a Native American tribe. He becomes closer to them and decides to leave behind his past life to join them. He is accepted as a member of Dances With Wolves and stands by them in every fight. John also discovers a surprising romance within the tribe.

‘Unforgiven’ (1992)

Clint Eastwood, UNFORGIVEN 1992.

Clint Eastwood in “Unforgiven,”

Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Clint Eastwood directed one of many Westerns. Unforgiven A prostitute is disfigured and narrowly escapes death. Co-workers offer a reward for the murder. Two groups of outlaws travel to Big Whiskey in Wyoming to search for the criminals, one led by William Munny Eastwood and the other by English Bob Richard Harris.

‘Tombstone’ (1993)

Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott (n driving seat), Bill Paxton, TOMBSTONE 1993.

Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott (in the driver’s seat), and Bill Paxton in “Tombstone”

Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

The movie is directed by George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre and Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell). Wyatt Earp and his brothers Morgan (Bill Paxton), and Virgil, think they have gotten rid of their gunslinger ways as they settle down in Tombstone (Arizona). Things take a twist when trouble strikes again and the trio is confronted by a group of outlaws. Wyatt’s best friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) joins them to fight the gang of cowboys.

‘The Quick and the Dead (1995)

Gene Hackman and Russell Crowe in THE QUICK & THE DEAD 1995.

Russell Crowe and Gene Hackman in “The Quick and the Dead”

TriStar Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Ellen (Sharon Stone), a female gunslinger, rides into a small frontier community to seek revenge on her father Herod (Gene Hackman), who was murdered by the mayor of the town. She is forced to compete with other outlaws, each with their own motives, in a violent fight. Sam Raimi directs Ellen as she fights for justice. Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio also star in the movie.

‘Lone Star’ (1996)

Chris Cooper, LONE STAR 1996.

Chris Cooper in “Lone Star”

Sony Pictures Classics/courtesy Everett Collection

Sam Deeds, the local sheriff, is called to investigate the discovery of a 40-year old skeleton in Rio County, Texas. He begins to uncover the dark secrets of the town. John Sayles directs the movie. Deeds learns more about his father Buddy Deeds (famous sheriff). He also tries to solve the mystery murder and reveal the town’s secrets. He also rekindles a high school romance.

‘Open Range’ (2003)

Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall and Diego Luna in OPEN RANGE 2003.

Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, and Diego Luna in “Open Range”

Touchstone/Courtesy Everett Collection

This Western, directed and starring Kevin Costner, features Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), Charley Waite, Mose Harrison (Abraham Benrubi), and Button (Diego Luna). They drive their cattle across the West in close friendship. Mose is unable to find his way to a small village when he encounters James Russo (the corrupt sheriff) and Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon), who run the village with violence and fear. Boss and his men set out to find Mose if he doesn’t return. They will encounter everything, including heated exchanges, violence, and unexpected romance, on their quest to rescue Mose.

‘3:10 To Yuma’ (2007)

Christian Bale and Alan Tudyk in 3:10 TOYUMA, 2007.

In ‘3:10 to Yuma’, Alan Tudyk and Christian Bale, Russell Crowe and Peter Fonda.

Lions Gate/courtesy Everett Collection

Christian Bale’s rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) heads to Bisbee, Arizona to capture Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), a notorious outlaw who terrorizes the area. The FilmThe 1800s movie follows Evan as Wade is taken to the train to be tried. They face danger every step of the way on their journey to the 3:10 train to Yuma.

“The Assassination of Jesse James by Robert Ford” (2007)

Brad Pitt portrays Jesse James. Casey Affleck portrays Robert Ford in THE ASSASSINATION of JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARDROBERT FORD, 2007.

Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck star in “The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford”

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

Jesse James (Brad Pitt), a notorious outlaw, has many chasing him to get the reward. Jesse continues his criminal ways and plans his next big heist. But two of his own recruits have different plans. Robert (Casey Affleck), and Charley Ford, (Sam Rockwell), grow jealous of Jesse and decide to kill him. But things don’t turn out as planned. Film Directed by Andrew Dominik

‘Appaloosa’ (2008)

Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, APPALOOSA 2008

Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris in “Appaloosa”

New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s the 1880s Southwest and Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are on a mission to find justice in lawless towns. They discover that Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), a new rancher and a gang, is terrorizing Appaloosa’s mining town. The film is filmed in the FilmVirgil, Evertt and Ed Harris must work together to bring them down. But when Renee Zellweger, a mysterious widow, arrives in town, their bond is tested.

‘Rango’ (2011)

Rango (voice of Johnny Depp), Beans, (voice of Isla Fisher), in RANGO 2011, 2011.

Johnny Depp voices Rango and Isla Fisher voices Beans in ‘Rango.

Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

This Animation of Western The story of Rango, a pet chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp, is about a man who takes on a lifestyle shift after a identity crisis. Rango accidentally becomes the new sheriff in a frontier community. He finds himself in thrilling encounters and ends up becoming the hero. Gore Verbinski directs the film.

‘Django Unchained’ (2012)

Jamie Foxx, DJANGO UNCHAINED 2012

Jamie Foxx in “Django Unchained”

Andrew Cooper/(c)Weinstein Company/Courtesy Everett Collection

The ensemble includes Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio. Kerry Washington is also included. Film from the pre-Civil War Follow Django (Foxx), who is a slave who joins Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), a German bounty hunter, on a mission for two men. Schultz offers to help Django locate his long-lost wife Broomhilda von Schultz (Washington) if he agrees as his partner. They embark on a journey together to find her after they discover that she was sold to a Mississippi plantation. They come up with a plan together so that Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) welcomes them into his house so they can save his wife.

‘Hell or High Water (2016)

Chris Pine and Ben Foster in HELL or HIGH WATER, 2016.

Ben Foster and Chris Pine In ‘Hell or High Water?

Lorey Sebastian/CBS Films/courtesy Everett Collection

The Film Directed by David Mackenzie. Toby Howard (Chris Pine), a father who is divorcing, is about to lose his family ranch. Toby plans several heists against the bank that is closing the ranch in an effort to make his sons’ lives easier. They are also being pursued by Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), a Texas Ranger who is close to retirement.

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