westerns The Best '40s Western Movies  

Ranker Film
4.7k votes 635 voters 6.1k views 40 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite Western films that were released in the 1940s.

The Western genre is truly what took movies to new heights, and in the '40s, Western movies took over cineplexes as a form of escapism during a tumultuous time in global politics. These are the best 1940s Western movies, ranked from best to worst by user votes. Some of these great 1940s Westerns featured lone riders saving the day, some of the other classic films on this list leaned more towards comedy rather than drama.

What movies can you expect to see on this best 40s Western movies list? Though he'd been acting for decades, some of John Wayne's most popular films came out in the 1940s. Dark Command and A Lady Takes a Chance are two great Wayne Westerns that were released in the decade. My Darling Clementine is another great Western from the 1940s. The Wild West got the funny treatment when The Marx Brothers starred in the 1940 film, Go West. Other good films that appear on this top 1940s Western movies list include The Ox-Bow Incident, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Blood on the Moon.

Do you have a favorite 1940s Western? Make sure to vote up your favorites!
list ordered by

1
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Red River is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Red River John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters 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

2
173 42
My Darling Clementine is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
My Darling Clementine Henry Fonda, Walter Brennan, Linda Darnell My Darling Clementine, a 1946 film, regarded as one of the best Western movies made by Director John Ford, stars Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp during the period leading up to Gunfight at the OK ...more

3
153 38
The Treasure of the Sierra Mad... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
anne flynn added The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Barton MacLane The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is an American dramatic adventurous neo-western written and directed by John Huston. It is a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, ...more

4
141 35
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey 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

5
141 38
The Westerner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
The Westerner Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Dana Andrews The Westerner is a 1940 American film directed by William Wyler and starring Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, and Doris Davenport. Written by Niven Busch, Stuart N. Lake, and Jo Swerling, the film ...more

6
133 38
The Ox-Bow Incident is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
The Ox-Bow Incident Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Margaret Hamilton The Ox-Bow Incident is a 1943 American western film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews and Mary Beth Hughes, and featuring Anthony Quinn, William Eythe, Harry ...more

7
120 37
Blood on the Moon is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Blood on the Moon Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston Blood on the Moon is a 1948 RKO black-and-white "psychological" western directed by Robert Wise with cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. The film, starring Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel ...more

8
114 37
Fort Apache is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Fort Apache Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Ward Bond 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 ...more

9
104 37
Pursued is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
gerard flynn added Pursued Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright, Judith Anderson Pursued is a 1947 film that combines western film noir and psychological melodrama. The picture was directed by Raoul Walsh and features Teresa Wright, Robert Mitchum, Judith Anderson and Dean

10
100 37
Duel in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Duel in the Sun Orson Welles, Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones Duel in the Sun is a Technicolor 1946 Western film directed by King Vidor, produced and written by David O. Selznick, which tells the story of a Mestiza girl who goes to live with her caucasian ...more

11
98 38
Northwest Passage is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Northwest Passage Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan, Robert Young Northwest Passage is a 1940 film in Technicolor, starring Spencer Tracy, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Ruth Hussey, and others. The picture is based on a novel by Kenneth Roberts titled ...more

12
94 37
Yellow Sky is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Yellow Sky Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark Yellow Sky is a 1948 American western film directed by William A. Wellman. The story is believed to be loosely adapted from William Shakespeare's The Tempest. A band of outlaws flee after a bank ...more

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13
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The Return of Frank James is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
anne flynn added The Return of Frank James Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper The Return of Frank James is a 1940 western film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Henry Fonda and Gene Tierney. It is a sequel to Henry King's 1939 film Jesse James. Written by Sam Hellman, ...more

14
91 36
They Died with Their Boots On is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
anne flynn added They Died with Their Boots On Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Anthony Quinn They Died with Their Boots On is a 1941 American western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Written by Æneas MacKenzie and Wally Kline, the film ...more

15
91 37
3 Godfathers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
3 Godfathers John Wayne, Ward Bond, Harry Carey^! Jr. 3 Godfathers is a 1948 American Western film directed by John Ford and filmed primarily in Death Valley, California. The screenplay, written by Frank S. Nugent and Laurence Stallings, is based ...more

16
83 35
Angel and the Badman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Angel and the Badman John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey Angel and the Badman is a 1947 American Western film written and directed by James Edward Grant and starring John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey and Bruce Cabot. The film is about an injured ...more

17
82 38
Billy the Kid is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
gerard flynn added Billy the Kid Robert Taylor, Gene Lockhart, Brian Donlevy Billy the Kid is a 1941 American color remake of the 1930 film of the same name. The film features Robert Taylor as Billy and Brian Donlevy as a fictionalized version of Pat Garrett renamed ...more

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18
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Rachel and the Stranger is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
anne flynn added Rachel and the Stranger Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Loretta Young Rachel and the Stranger is a black-and-white 1948 western film starring Loretta Young, William Holden, and Robert Mitchum. The Norman Foster-directed film was one of the few to address the role ...more

19
79 37
Ramrod is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
iknowwhatawesternis added Ramrod Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea Ramrod is a 1947 Western film directed by André De Toth. This cowboy drama from Hungarian director De Toth was the first of several films based on the stories of Western author Luke ...more

20
80 39
Western Union is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Western Union Robert Young, John Carradine, Randolph Scott Western Union is a 1941 American Western film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Robert Young, Randolph Scott, and Dean Jagger. Filmed in Technicolor on location in Arizona and Utah, Western ...more

21
78 38
Colorado Territory is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
anne flynn added Colorado Territory Dorothy Malone, Virginia Mayo, Joel McCrea Colorado Territory is a 1949 American Western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, and Dorothy Malone. Written by Edmund H. North and John Twist, and based on ...more

22
78 38
San Antonio is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
gerard flynn added San Antonio Errol Flynn, Monte Blue, Alexis Smith San Antonio is a 1945 Western Technicolor film starring Errol Flynn and Alexis Smith. The movie was written by W. R. Burnett and Alan Le May, and directed by David Butler as well as uncredited ...more

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23
76 37
The Outlaw is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
The Outlaw Jane Russell, Walter Huston, Thomas Mitchell The Outlaw is a 1943 American Western film, directed by Howard Hughes and starring Jane Russell. The supporting cast includes Jack Buetel, Thomas Mitchell, and Walter Huston. Hughes also ...more

24
76 38
Santa Fe Trail is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Santa Fe Trail Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn Santa Fe Trail is a 1940 American western film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Raymond Massey and Ronald Reagan. Written by Robert Buckner, the film is ...more

25
73 38
Virginia City is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Virginia City Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott Virginia City is a 1940 American Western film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins, Randolph Scott, and a mustachioed Humphrey Bogart in the role of the real-life ...more

26
70 36
Tall in the Saddle is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Tall in the Saddle John Wayne, Ward Bond, George "Gabby" Hayes Tall in the Saddle is a 1944 American Western film directed by Edwin L. Marin and starring John Wayne and Ella Raines. Written by Paul Fix and Michael Hogan, based on the serialized novel of the ...more

27
62 36
The Spoilers is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
gerard flynn added The Spoilers John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott The Spoilers is a 1942 Western drama film directed by Ray Enright. The movie is set in Nome, Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush, with Marlene Dietrich as Cherry Malotte, Randolph Scott as ...more

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28
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Dark Command is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Dark Command John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Walter Pidgeon Dark Command is a 1940 Western film starring Claire Trevor, John Wayne and Walter Pidgeon loosely based on Quantrill's Raiders during the American Civil War. Directed by Raoul Walsh from the ...more

29
53 33
Lust for Gold is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
anne flynn added Lust for Gold Glenn Ford, Gig Young, Ida Lupino Lust for Gold is a 1949 American western film directed by S. Sylvan Simon and starring Ida Lupino, Glenn Ford and Gig Young. The film is about the legendary Lost Dutchman gold mine, starring ...more

30
50 37
The Fighting Kentuckian is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
The Fighting Kentuckian John Wayne, Oliver Hardy, Vera Ralston The Fighting Kentuckian is an American comedy action film starring John Wayne and Oliver Hardy. The movie was written and directed by George Waggner and made by Republic Pictures.

31
48 36
Canyon Passage is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Canyon Passage Susan Hayward, Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy Canyon Passage is a 1946 Western film directed by Jacques Tourneur and set in frontier Oregon. Featuring love triangles and a Native American uprising, it was adapted from the Saturday Evening ...more

32
46 38
I Shot Jesse James is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
I Shot Jesse James John Ireland, Preston Foster, Gene Evans I Shot Jesse James is a 1949 American film directed by Samuel Fuller about the murder of Jesse James by Robert Ford and Robert Ford's life afterwards. The story is built around a fictional ...more

33
44 38
The Paleface is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
The Paleface Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Stanley Andrews The Paleface is a 1948 Technicolor comedy Western directed by Norman Z. McLeod, starring Bob Hope as "Painless Potter" and Jane Russell as Calamity Jane. In the film, Hope sings the ...more

34
43 38
Home of the Brave is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
gerard flynn added Home of the Brave Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Corey, Frank Lovejoy Home of the Brave is a 1949 film based on a 1946 play by Arthur Laurents. It was directed by Mark Robson and stars Douglas Dick, Jeff Corey, Lloyd Bridges, Frank Lovejoy, James Edwards, and ...more

35
42 38
Go West is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Go West Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Leonard Marx Go West is the 10th Marx Brothers comedy film, in which brothers Groucho, Chico, and Harpo head to the American West and attempt to unite a couple by ensuring that an evil railroad baron is ...more

36
42 38
My Little Chickadee is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
My Little Chickadee Mae West, W. C. Fields, Margaret Hamilton My Little Chickadee is a Universal comedy/western motion picture starring Mae West and W. C. Fields, with Joseph Calleia, Ruth Donnelly, Margaret Hamilton, Donald Meek, Willard Robertson, Dick ...more

37
40 38
A Lady Takes a Chance is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
A Lady Takes a Chance John Wayne, Jean Arthur, Phil Silvers A Lady Takes a Chance is a 1943 American romantic comedy film directed by William A. Seiter and starring Jean Arthur and John Wayne. Written by Robert Ardrey and based on a story by Jo Swerling, ...more

38
4 1
Massacre River is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Lucy Hall added Massacre River Guy Madison Massacre River is a film directed by John Rawlins released on Jun 26, 1949.

39
37 36
Along Came Jones is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
Along Came Jones Gary Cooper, Loretta Young, Dan Duryea Along Came Jones is a 1945 Western comedy film starring Gary Cooper, Loretta Young, William Demarest, and Dan Duryea, in which Cooper mercilessly spoofs his own slow-talking cowboy persona. The ...more

40
29 43
The Treasure of the Sierra Mad... is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best '40s Western Movies
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1927 adventure novel by the mysterious German-English bilingual author B. Traven, in which two destitute Americans of the 1920s join with an old-timer, in ...more