Entertainment

The Best Western Movies Ever Made 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated November 21, 2019 365k votes 19k voters 376.8k views 396 items

The best Western movies ever made include some true classics from the early days of cinema, and more modern day films that captured our imagination and took us to the days of the wild, wild West. From Sergio Leone's classics like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly to the 2010 Joel and Ethan Coen remake of True Grit, the Western movies listed here are considered some of the greatest of all time. Be sure to vote for your favorite Westerns and vote down any you don't like.

What makes a great Western? Aside from casting Clint Eastwood (he's in so many of these) or John Wayne, an outstanding Western offers movie goers fantastic characters, lots of drama and tension and certainly a nasty, memorable villain or two. Setting is obviously important in top western movies as well. Throw in a High Noon-style standoff and you simply can't miss. Those are really the most important elements in the best western and cowboy movies. (While faithfulness to history is a plus, you might be surprised how many famous westerns aren't historically accurate!)

What are you favorite western films? Which ones might convince you to stay home for the evening and relax in front of the tube? Vote for the greatest western movie ever made and be sure to add any of your favorite Western movies that might be missing! Giddyup, and enjoy!

list ordered by
1
Tombstone is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Charlton Heston

Released: 1993

Directed by: Kevin Jarre, George P. Cosmatos

Tombstone is a 1993 American western film directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael ...more
2
True Grit is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper

Released: 1969

Directed by: Henry Hathaway

True Grit is a 1969 American western Technicolor film written by Marguerite Roberts, directed by Henry Hathaway, and starring John Wayne as U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn; Wayne won his only ...more
3
The Searchers is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Vera Miles

Released: 1956

Directed by: John Ford

The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged veteran who spends ...more
4
The Man Who Shot Liberty... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin

Released: 1962

Directed by: John Ford

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford starring James Stewart and John Wayne. The black-and-white film was released by Paramount Pictures. The ...more
5
Unforgiven is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman

Released: 1992

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw who takes on ...more
6
The Good, the Bad and th... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1966

Directed by: Sergio Leone

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. The screenplay was written by Age ...more
7
Rio Bravo is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson

Released: 1959

Directed by: 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 ...more
8
The Outlaw Josey Wales ... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, John Vernon

Released: 1976

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American revisionist Western film. It was directed by and starred Clint Eastwood, with Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Sam Bottoms, and Geraldine Keams. The film ...more
9
Open Range is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening

Released: 2003

Directed by: Kevin Costner

Open Range is a 2003 American western film directed and co-produced by Kevin Costner, starring Robert Duvall and Costner, with Annette Bening and Michael Gambon appearing in supporting roles. ...more
10
The Magnificent Seven is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn

Released: 1960

Directed by: John Sturges

The Magnificent Seven is an American western film directed by John Sturges and starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach and Steve McQueen. The picture is an Old West-style remake of Akira Kurosawa's ...more
11
Jeremiah Johnson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Robert Redford, Tanya Tucker, Will Geer

Released: 1972

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

Jeremiah Johnson is a 1972 western film directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford as the title character and Will Geer as "Bear Claw" Chris Lapp. The film has been said to ...more
12
The Shootist is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart

Released: 1976

Directed by: Don Siegel

The Shootist is a 1976 Western film directed by Don Siegel and starring John Wayne in his final film role, about a gunfighter who spends his last days looking for a way to stop with the least ...more
13
Pale Rider is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Chris Penn, Michael Moriarty

Released: 1985

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Pale Rider is a 1985 American western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, who also stars in the lead role. This movie bears a striking similarity to the classic Western Shane, as well ...more
14
Shane is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Jack Palance, Jean Arthur, Alan Ladd

Released: 1953

Directed by: George Stevens

Shane is a 1953 American Technicolor Western film from Paramount. It was produced and directed by George Stevens from a screenplay by A. B. Guthrie, Jr., based on the 1949 novel of the same name ...more
15
Butch Cassidy and the Su... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Cloris Leachman

Released: 1969

Directed by: George Roy Hill

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 ...more
16
High Noon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Grace Kelly, Gary Cooper, Lee Van Cleef

Released: 1952

Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper. In nearly real time, the film tells the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by ...more
17
High Plains Drifter is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Geoffrey Lewis, John Hillerman

Released: 1973

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, written by Ernest Tidyman, and produced by Robert Daley for The Malpaso Company and Universal Studios. ...more
18
Quigley Down Under is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman, Laura San Giacomo

Released: 1990

Directed by: Simon Wincer

Quigley Down Under is a 1990 Australian western film. Starring Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman and Laura San Giacomo, it was directed by Simon Wincer.
19
Stagecoach is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, John Carradine, Claire Trevor

Released: 1939

Directed by: John Ford

Stagecoach is a 1939 American Western film directed by John Ford, starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne in his breakthrough role. The screenplay, written by Dudley Nichols, is an adaptation of ...more
20
Hang 'Em High is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Dern

Released: 1968

Directed by: Ted Post

Hang 'Em High is a 1968 American Western film directed by Ted Post and produced and co-written by Leonard Freeman. It stars Clint Eastwood as Jed Cooper, Inger Stevens as a widow who helps him, ...more
21
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey

Released: 1949

Directed by: John Ford

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is a 1949 Technicolor Western film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. The academy award winning film was the second of Ford's Cavalry trilogy films. With a ...more
22
A Fistful of Dollars is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Aldo Sambrell

Released: 1964

Directed by: Sergio Leone

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, alongside Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne ...more
23
Dances with Wolves is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Charles Rocket

Released: 1990

Directed by: Kevin Costner

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 American epic western film directed, produced by, and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells ...more
24
Red River is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters

Released: 1948

Directed by: Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson

Red River is a 1948 Western film directed and produced by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, giving a fictional account of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas ...more
25
The Last of the Mohicans... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Western Movies Ever Made
Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Pete Postlethwaite

Released: 1992

Directed by: Michael Mann

The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 historical epic film set in 1757 and produced by Morgan Creek Pictures. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper's novel of the same ...more