CLASSIC CLIPS TOP 25 GREATEST WESTERN MOVIES OF ALL TIME

The Criteria for our top 100 list are as follows: 1) Ground Breaking Cinematography and Special Effects (excluding CGI, which we consider, mostly but not entirely, to be over used and a lazy form of Art), 2) Groundbreaking and/or Original Plot, 3) Superlative Screenplay (original or adaptation), 4) Great Acting, 5) Great Directing and Producing, 6) Great Film editing, including Sound, and, 7) Lasting, memorable and original Musical Score. Other criteria include character development, level of suspense, intrigue, tension and sustained interest. The list of movies below contain at least one or more of the above elements, beginning with our pic for the # 100 spot.

 

25. Apache Drums (1951)
A Much Better Film than it Has Been Given Credit For

Apache Drums is a 1951 American Technicolor Western film directed by Hugo Fregonese and produced by Val Lewton. The drama features Stephen McNally, Coleen Gray, and Willard Parker. The film was based on an original story: Stand at Spanish Boot, by Harry Brown. Apache Drums was the last film Val Lewton produced before his death.

A notorious gambler is thrown out of a small town named Spanish Boot, but he quickly returns when he discovers the town is threatened by the Mescalero Apaches led by Chief Victorio. - Source Wikipedia

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24. Chuka (1967)
An Under Rated, Last Stand Fort Massacre Classic Western

Chuka is a 1967 American Western film starring Rod Taylor who also produced it and worked on the screenplay. The film was directed by Gordon Douglas and is based on 1961 novel by Richard Jessup, who also wrote the screenplay. Source Wikipedia

An Under Rated, Last Stand, Fort Massacre Classic Western! Cowboy and soldier heros stare imminent and certain death in the face. - Source ClassicClips.ca

Gunfighter Chuka (Rod Taylor) escorts the passengers of a broken-down stagecoach to Fort Clandennon, a remote Army outpost run by stern British Col. Stuart Valois (John Mills). One of the passengers is Veronica Kleits (Luciana Paluzzi), a widowed Mexican aristocrat who loved Chuka but could not marry him because of the gap between their social classes. As Arapaho Indians encircle the fort, Col. Valois prepares for a desperate last stand to redeem himself for an act of wartime cowardice. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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23. The Great Sioux Massacre (1965)
A "Custers's Last Stand" Film

The Great Sioux Massacre is a 1965 American Western film directed by Sidney Salkow in CinemaScope using extensive action sequences from Salkow's 1954 Sitting Bull. In a fictionalized form, it depicts Custer as an incompetent warmonger, and the Indians as his victims, and covers events leading up to the Battle of the Little Bighorn and Custer's Last Stand. It stars Joseph Cotten, Darren McGavin and Philip Carey. - Source Wikipedia

The story of Gen. Custer (Philip Carey) and the Little Bighorn is seen through the eyes of two of his subordinates (Joseph Cotten, Darren McGavin). - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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22. Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)
An Early John Sturges Film (One of his first Westerns)

Escape from Fort Bravo is a 1953 American Anscocolor Western film set during the American Civil War. It stars William Holden, Eleanor Parker, and John Forsythe. - Source Wikipedia

Captain Roper (William Holden) is the warden of a Union-run prison camp. A mysterious woman named Carla Forester (Eleanor Parker) arrives at the camp in order to free the Confederate prisoners, and things get complicated when Carla and the captain begin to fall for each other. In an effort to recapture the escaped prisoners, Roper has a run-in with a group of Mescalero Indians. In order to survive, he has to team up with his own prisoners to fight the Indians and wipe them out. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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21. Only The Valiant (1969)
Winner of 3 Academy Awards

Only the Valiant, also known as Fort Invincible, is a 1951 Western film produced by William Cagney (younger brother of James Cagney), directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Gregory Peck, Barbara Payton, and Ward Bond. The screenplay was written by Edmund H. North and Harry Brown, based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Charles Marquis Warren.

A despised cavalry commander is unfairly blamed by his troop for the death of a popular officer and must redeem himself in front of his men during an Indian attack on the fort.. - Source Wikipedia

A despised cavalry commander is unfairly blamed by his troop for the death of a popular officer and must redeem himself in front of his men during an Indian attack on the fort. - Source IMDB

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20. One Eyed Jacks (1961)
Nominated for Best Cinematography, Color

One-Eyed Jacks is a 1961 American Technicolor Western film directed by and starring Marlon Brando; it was the only film he directed. It was originally planned to be directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay by Sam Peckinpah, but studio disputes led to their replacement by Brando and Guy Trosper. Brando portrays the lead character Rio, and Karl Malden plays his partner, "Dad" Longworth. The supporting cast features Pina Pellicer, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson and Slim Pickens. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. - Source Wikipedia

After pulling a bank heist in Mexico, the outlaw Rio (Marlon Brando) and his partner, Dad Longworth (Karl Malden), make a run for it, but Dad has bigger plans than freedom. He betrays Rio and absconds with the loot, and Rio ends up in prison. Years pass before Rio finally breaks free to enact his long-plotted revenge. Tracking Dad to California, Rio learns he's become a sheriff -- which is no deterrent -- but when Rio falls for Dad's stepdaughter, Louisa (Pina Pellicer), he has second thoughts. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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19. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)
Nominated for 2 Academy Awards

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is a 1957 American Western film starring Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday, and loosely based on the actual event in 1881. The film was directed by John Sturges from a screenplay written by novelist Leon Uris. - Source Wikipedia

Lawman Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) and gunfighter John "Doc" Holliday (Kirk Douglas) find themselves together again in Tombstone, Ariz., despite the tumultuous history between them. Earp comes to Arizona on a mission to bring the Clayton clan to justice. Meanwhile, Holliday becomes incensed with the decision of Kate Fisher (Jo Van Fleet) to turn him down in favor of another gunfighter (John Ireland), ultimately leading Holliday to join Earp's side in a confrontation with the Claytons. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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18. 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
Intense, Exciting and just as Entertaining

3:10 to Yuma is a 1957 American Western film directed by Delmer Daves, starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Based on a 1953 short story by Elmore Leonard, it is about a drought-impoverished rancher who takes on the risky job of escorting a notorious outlaw to justice. In 2012, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" - Source Wikipedia

Dan Evans (Van Heflin), a drought-plagued Arizona rancher, volunteers to take captured stagecoach robber and murderer Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) from Bisbee to Contention City, where the criminal will be put aboard the 3:10 train to Yuma for his trial. Accompanied only by the town drunk, Alex Potter (Henry Jones), Dan battles Wade's henchman (Richard Jaeckel), the murder victim's revenge-minded brother, and the temptation of the large bribe Wade offers in exchange for his freedom. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


3:10 To Yuma (2007)





 
 

17. Rio Grande (1950)
Nominated for an Oscar for Best Written American Western

Rio Grande is a 1950 American romantic Western film directed by John Ford, and starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. The picture is the third installment of Ford's "cavalry trilogy", following two RKO Pictures releases: Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949).

John Wayne plays the lead in all three films, as Captain Kirby York in Fort Apache, then as Captain of Cavalry Nathan Cutting Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and finally as a promoted Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke in Rio Grande (scripts and production billing spell the York character's last name differently in Fort Apache and Rio Grande). - Source Wikipedia

Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (John Wayne) heads a cavalry post on the Texas side of the Rio Grande, defending settlers against Apaches launching raids from the Mexican side of the river. When Yorke's 16-year-old son, Jeff (Claude Jarman Jr.) --- who he has not seen since he was a baby -- shows up at the post as one of the new recruits, he treats him more harshly than the others. Things are further complicated when Yorke's estranged wife, Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara), returns to take her son home. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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16. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Nominated for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (/ˈvæləns/) is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and James Stewart. The screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck was adapted from a 1953 short story written by Dorothy M. Johnson.

In 2007, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." - Source Wikipedia

Questions arise when Senator Stoddard (James Stewart) attends the funeral of a local man named Tom Doniphon (John Wayne) in a small Western town. Flashing back, we learn Doniphon saved Stoddard, then a lawyer, when he was roughed up by a crew of outlaws terrorizing the town, led by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). As the territory's safety hung in the balance, Doniphon and Stoddard, two of the only people standing up to him, proved to be very important, but different, foes to Valance. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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15. True Grit (1969)
Winner of Academy Award for Best Actor

True Grit is a 1969 American Western film starring John Wayne as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, Glen Campbell as La Boeuf and Kim Darby as Mattie Ross. It is the first film adaptation of Charles Portis' 1968 novel of the same name. The screenplay was written by Marguerite Roberts. Wayne won his only Oscar for his performance in the film and reprised his role for the 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn. - Source Wikipedia

After hired hand Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) murders the father of 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Kim Darby), she seeks vengeance and hires U.S. Marshal "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne), a man of "true grit," to track Chaney into Indian territory. As the two begin their pursuit, a Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), joins the manhunt in hopes of capturing Chaney for the murder of a Texas senator and collecting a substantial reward. The three clash on their quest of bringing to justice the same man. - Source Rotten Tomatoes


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Honorable Mentions


True Grit (2010)



 





 

14. High Noon (1952)
Winner of 4 Academy Awards, Including Best Actor

High Noon is a 1952 American Western film produced by Stanley Kramer from a screenplay by Carl Foreman, directed by Fred Zinnemann, and starring Gary Cooper. The plot, which occurs in real time, centers on a town marshal whose sense of duty is tested when he must decide to either face a gang of killers alone, or leave town with his new wife.

Though mired in controversy at the time of its release due to its political themes, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four (Actor, Editing, Score and Song) as well as four Golden Globe Awards (Actor, Supporting Actress, Score, and Black and White Cinematography). The award-winning score was written by Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin.

High Noon was selected by the Library of Congress as one of the first 25 films for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in 1989, the NFR's first year of existence. An iconic film whose story has been partly or completely repeated in later film productions, its ending in particular has inspired a next-to-endless number of later films, including but not just limited to westerns. - Source Wikipedia

Former marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) is preparing to leave the small town of Hadleyville, New Mexico, with his new bride, Amy (Grace Kelly), when he learns that local criminal Frank Miller has been set free and is coming to seek revenge on the marshal who turned him in. When he starts recruiting deputies to fight Miller, Kane is discouraged to find that the people of Hadleyville turn cowardly when the time comes for a showdown, and he must face Miller and his cronies alone. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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13. Unforgiven (1992)
Winner of 4 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture

Unforgiven is a 1992 American Revisionist Western film directed, produced by, and starring Clint Eastwood in the lead role and written by David Webb Peoples. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job, years after he had turned to farming. The film co-stars Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris.

The film received widespread critical acclaim, with praise for the acting (particularly from Eastwood and Hackman), directing, editing, themes and cinematography. The film won four Academy Awards: Best Picture and Best Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman, and Best Film Editing for editor Joel Cox. Eastwood was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but he lost to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman. The film was the third Western to win Best Picture, following Cimarron (1931) and Dances with Wolves (1990). Eastwood dedicated the film to directors and mentors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel.

In 2004, Unforgiven was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". - Source Wikipedia

When prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald (Anna Thomson) is disfigured by a pair of cowboys in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, her fellow brothel workers post a reward for their murder, much to the displeasure of sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman), who doesn't allow vigilantism in his town. Two groups of gunfighters, one led by aging former bandit William Munny (Clint Eastwood), the other by the florid English Bob (Richard Harris), come to collect the reward, clashing with each other and the sheriff. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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12. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Winner of 4 Academy Awards

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a 1969 American Western film directed by George Roy Hill and written by William Goldman. Based loosely on fact, the film tells the story of Wild West outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker, known as Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman), and his partner Harry Longabaugh, the "Sundance Kid" (Robert Redford), who are on the run from a crack US posse after a string of train robberies. The pair and Sundance's lover, Etta Place (Katharine Ross), flee to Bolivia to escape the posse.

In 2003, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The American Film Institute ranked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the 73rd-greatest American film on its "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)" list. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were ranked 20th-greatest heroes on "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains". Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was selected by the American Film Institute as the 7th-greatest Western of all time in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in 2008. - Source Wikipedia

The true story of fast-draws and wild rides, battles with posses, train and bank robberies, a torrid love affair and a new lease on outlaw life in far away Bolivia. It is also a character study of a remarkable friendship between Butch - possibly the most likeable outlaw in frontier history - and his closest associate, the fabled, ever-dangerous Sundance Kid. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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11. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western Sensation (Clint Eastwood in
his first Major role)

A Fistful of Dollars (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari, lit. 'For a Fistful of Dollars' titled on-screen as Fistful of Dollars) is a 1964 Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood in his first leading role, alongside John Wells, Marianne Koch, W. Lukschy, S. Rupp, Jose Calvo, Antonio Prieto, and Joe Edger. The film, an international co-production between Italy, West Germany, and Spain, was filmed on a low budget (reported to be $200,000), and Eastwood was paid $15,000 for his role.

Released in Italy in 1964 and then in the United States in 1967, it initiated the popularity of the Spaghetti Western genre. It was followed by For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, also starring Eastwood. Collectively, the films are known as the "Dollars Trilogy", or the "Man with No Name Trilogy" after the United Artists publicity campaign referred to Eastwood's character in all three films as the "Man with No Name". All three films were later released in sequence in the United States in 1967, catapulting Eastwood into stardom. The film has been identified as an unofficial remake of the Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (1961), which resulted in a successful lawsuit by Toho, Yojimbo's production company. - Source Wikipedia

The Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood) enters the Mexican village of San Miguel in the midst of a power struggle among the three Rojo brothers (Antonio Prieto, Benny Reeves, Sieghardt Rupp) and sheriff John Baxter (Wolfgang Lukschy). When a regiment of Mexican soldiers bearing gold intended to pay for new weapons is waylaid by the Rojo brothers, the stranger inserts himself into the middle of the long-simmering battle, selling false information to both sides for his own benefit. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


For A Few Dollars
More (1965)





 
 

10. Rio Bravo (1959)
A Western Classic by John Wayne and Howard Hawks

Rio Bravo is a 1959 American Western film produced and directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond. Written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, based on the short story "Rio Bravo" by B. H. McCampbell, the film stars Wayne as a Texan sheriff who arrests the brother of a powerful local rancher for murder and then has to hold the man in jail until a U.S. Marshal can arrive. With the help of a "cripple", a drunk and a young gunfighter, they hold off the rancher's gang. Rio Bravo was filmed on location at Old Tucson Studios outside Tucson, Arizona, in Technicolor.

In 2014, Rio Bravo was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. - Source Wikipedia

When gunslinger Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) kills a man in a saloon, Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests him with the aid of the town drunk, Dude (Dean Martin). Before long, Burdette's brother, Nathan (John Russell), comes around, indicating that he's prepared to bust his brother out of jail if necessary. Chance decides to make a stand until reinforcements arrive, enlisting Dude, an old cripple named Stumpy (Walter Brennan) and baby-faced cowboy Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) to help. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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9. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
Winner of Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a 1949 American Technicolor Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. It is the second film in Ford's "Cavalry Trilogy", along with Fort Apache (1948) and Rio Grande (1950). With a budget of $1.6 million, the film was one of the most expensive Westerns made up to that time. It was a major hit for RKO. The film is named after "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon", a popular US military song that is used to keep marching cadence.

The film was shot on location in Monument Valley utilizing large areas of the Navajo reservation along the Arizona-Utah state border. Ford and cinematographer Winton C. Hoch based much of the film's imagery on the paintings and sculptures of Frederic Remington. Hoch won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color in 1950. It was also nominated as 1950's Best Written American Western (which the Writers Guild of America awarded to Yellow Sky). - Source Wikipedia

The last job of Calvary Captain Nathan Brittles (John Wayne) before retirement is to soothe relations with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians after Custer's last stand. At the same time, he must transport the wife (Mildred Natwick) and niece (Joanne Dru) of his commanding officer to a safe destination. After both his missions stall, Brittles attempts a face-to-face meeting with an important Native American chief in order to stave off an impending war. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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8. The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1967)
A Sergio Leone, Spaghetti Western Masterpiece

The ultimate Spaghetti Western! Sergio Leone sets three renegades against each other in a treasure hunt backdropped against the chaos and madness of the American Civil War. The result is the movie on his CV which best balances art and entertainment. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef are great value as Blondie and Angel Eyes, but it's Eli Wallach's Tuco who steals this Wild West show: "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."


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7. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Great Western, Great Musical Score by Elmer Bernstein

No Seven Samurai, no Magnificent Seven. Many of course will argue that Seven Samurai should have been given the nod here, and The Maginificent Seven the 'Honorable Mention.' No can do! This brilliant American Western film was directed by John Sturges and stars Yul BrynnerEli WallachSteve McQueenCharles BronsonRobert VaughnBrad DexterJames Coburnand Horst Buchholz. The film is an Old West–style remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanesefilm Seven Samurai. Brynner, McQueen, Bronson, Vaughn, Dexter, Coburn and Buchholz portray the title characters, a group of seven gunfighters hired to protect a small village in Mexico from a group of marauding bandits (whose leader is played by Wallach). The film's musical score was composed by Elmer Bernstein. In 2013, the film was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significan - Source Classicclips.ca

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Honorable Mentions


The Magnificent
Seven (2016)





 
 

6. Stagecoach (1939)
Winner of Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The screenplay by Dudley Nichols is an adaptation of "The Stage to Lordsburg", a 1937 short story by Ernest Haycox. The film follows a group of strangers riding on a stagecoach through dangerous Apache territory.

The film has long been recognized as an important work that transcends the Western genre. Philosopher Robert B. Pippin has observed that both the collection of characters and their journey "are archetypal rather than merely individual" and that the film is a "mythic representation of the American aspiration toward a form of politically meaningful equality." In 1995, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry. Still, Stagecoach has not avoided controversy. Like most Westerns of the era, its depiction of Native Americans as simplistic savages has been criticized. - Source Wikipedia

The film won 2 Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Thomas Mitchell) and Best Music, Scoring: (Richard Hageman, W. Franke Harling, John Leipold and Leo Shuken). - Source ClassicClips.ca

John Ford's landmark Western revolves around an assorted group of colorful passengers aboard the Overland stagecoach bound for Lordsburg, New Mexico, in the 1880s. An alcoholic philosophizer (Thomas Mitchell), a lady of ill repute (Claire Trevor) and a timid liquor salesman (Donald Meek) are among the motley crew of travelers who must contend with an escaped outlaw, the Ringo Kid (John Wayne), and the ever-present threat of an Apache attack as they make their way across the Wild West. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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5. They Died With Their Boots On (1941)
Great Performances by Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland

They Died with Their Boots On is a 1941 American black-and-white Western film from Warner Bros. Pictures, produced by Hal B. Wallis and Robert Fellows, directed by Raoul Walsh, that stars Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.

The film's storyline offers a highly fictionalized account of the life of Gen. George Armstrong Custer, from the time he enters West Point military academy through the American Civil War and finally to his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Custer is portrayed as a fun-loving, dashing figure who chooses honor and glory over money and corruption. The battle against Chief Crazy Horse (played by Anthony Quinn) is portrayed as a crooked deal between politicians and a corporation that wants the land Custer promised to the Native

George Armstrong Custer (Errol Flynn) is a rebellious but ambitious soldier, eager to join the Civil War. During the war, Custer has numerous successes to his credit, even though he disobeys orders. After the war concludes, he marries Libby Bacon (Olivia de Havilland) and is assigned to the Dakota Territory. Custer negotiates honestly with the Sioux on land, but due to corruption from others, a battle with Sitting Bull's forces occurs at Little Big Horn. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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4. The Searchers (1956)
A true American Masterpiece by Director John Ford

The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision epic Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, set during the Texas - Indian wars, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece (Natalie Wood), accompanied by his adopted nephew (Jeffrey Hunter).

The film was a commercial success. Since its release, it has come to be considered a masterpiece and one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. It was named the greatest American Western by the American Film Institute in 2008, and it placed 12th on the same organization's 2007 list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time. Entertainment Weekly also named it the best Western. The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine ranked it as the seventh-best film of all time based on a 2012 international survey of film critics and in 2008, the French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma ranked The Searchers number 10 in their list of the 100 best films ever made.

In 1989, The Searchers was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry; it was one of the first 25 films selected for the registry.

The Searchers was the first major film to have a purpose-filmed making-of, requested by John Ford. It deals with most aspects of making the film, including preparation of the site, construction of props, and filming techniques. - Source Wikipedia

In this revered Western, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) returns home to Texas after the Civil War. When members of his brother's family are killed or abducted by Comanches, he vows to track down his surviving relatives and bring them home. Eventually, Edwards gets word that his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood) is alive, and, along with her adopted brother, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), he embarks on a dangerous mission to find her, journeying deep into Comanche territory. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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3. Fort Apache (1948)
The First of John Ford's Cavalry Trilogy Films

Fort Apache is a 1948 American Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. The film was the first of the director's "cavalry trilogy" and was followed by She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950), both also starring Wayne. The screenplay was inspired by James Warner Bellah's short story "Massacre" (1947). The historical sources for "Massacre" have been attributed both to George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn and to the Fetterman Fight.

The film was one of the first to present an authentic and sympathetic view of Native Americans. In his review of the DVD release of Fort Apache in 2012, New York Times movie critic Dave Kehr called it "one of the great achievements of classical American cinema, a film of immense complexity that never fails to reveal new shadings with each viewing ... among the first pro-Indian Westerns" that portrays the Native Americans with "sympathy and respect".

The film was awarded the Best Director and Best Cinematography awards by the Locarno International Film Festival of Locarno, Switzerland. Screenwriter Frank S. Nugent was nominated for best screenplay by the Writers Guild of America. - Source Wikipedia

When arrogant and stubborn Civil War hero Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday (Henry Fonda) arrives in Arizona with his daughter, Philadelphia (Shirley Temple), to assume command of the Fort Apache outpost, he clashes with level-headed Captain Kirby York (John Wayne). Viewing the local Native Americans through an ignorantly negative lens, Thursday is determined to engage them in battle for his own glory, despite the warnings of York -- an act of folly that will have dire consequences. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


Vera Cruz (1954)




 
 

2. Red River (1948)
Nominated for 2 Academy Awards

Red River is a 1948 American Western film, directed and produced by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift. It gives a fictional account of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. The dramatic tension stems from a growing feud over the management of the drive between the Texas rancher who initiated it (Wayne) and his adopted adult son (Clift).

The film's supporting cast features Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, Coleen Gray, Harry Carey, John Ireland, Hank Worden, Noah Beery Jr., Harry Carey Jr. and Paul Fix. Borden Chase and Charles Schnee wrote the screenplay based on Chase's original story (which was first serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1946 as "Blazing Guns on the Chisholm Trail").

Upon its release, Red River was both a commercial and a critical success and was nominated for two Academy Awards. In 1990, Red River was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." Red River was selected by the American Film Institute as the fifth-greatest Western of all time in the AFI's 10 Top 10 list in 2008. - Source Wikipedia

Headstrong Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) starts a thriving Texas cattle ranch with the help of his faithful trail hand, Groot (Walter Brennan), and his protégé, Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift), an orphan Dunson took under his wing when Matt was a boy. In need of money following the Civil War, Dunson and Matt lead a cattle drive to Missouri, where they will get a better price than locally, but the crotchety older man and his willful young partner begin to butt heads on the exhausting journey. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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1. Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)
Epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone

Once Upon a Time in the West (Italian: C'era una volta il West, "Once upon a time (there was) the West") is a 1968 epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, who co-wrote it with Sergio Donati based on a story by Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Leone. It stars Henry Fonda, cast against type as the villain, Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Jason Robards as a bandit, and Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader. The widescreen cinematography was by Tonino Delli Colli, and the acclaimed film score was by Ennio Morricone.

After directing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Leone decided to retire from Westerns and aimed to produce his film based on The Hoods, which eventually became Once Upon a Time in America. However, Leone accepted an offer from Paramount Pictures providing Henry Fonda and a budget to produce another Western. He recruited Bertolucci and Argento to devise the plot of the film in 1966, researching other Western films in the process. After Clint Eastwood turned down an offer to play the movie's protagonist, Bronson was offered the role. During production, Leone recruited Donati to rewrite the script due to concerns over time limitations. - Source Wikipedia

There's a single piece of land around Flagstone with water on it, and rail baron Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) aims to have it, knowing the new railroad will have to stop there. He sends his henchman Frank (Henry Fonda) to scare the land's owner, McBain (Frank Wolff), but Frank kills him instead and pins it on a known bandit, Cheyenne (Jason Robards). Meanwhile, a mysterious gunslinger with a score to settle (Charles Bronson) and McBain's new wife, Jill (Claudia Cardinale), arrive in town. - Source Rotten Tomatoes

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Honorable Mentions


My Name Is Nobody
(1973)


They Call Me Trinity (1970)