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The Best 1940s Western Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated July 8, 2019 11.5k votes 1k voters 12.9k views 50 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.

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1
My Darling Clementine is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Henry Fonda, Walter Brennan, Linda Darnell

Released: 1946

Directed by: John Ford

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

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#56 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #393 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #47 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

2
Red River is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
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

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#24 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #12 of 99 The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked

3
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
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

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#26 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #527 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
The Westerner is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Dana Andrews

Released: 1940

Directed by: William Wyler

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

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#1,424 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #107 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
The Treasure of the Sier... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
anne flynn added Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Barton MacLane

Released: 1948

Directed by: John Huston

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

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#48 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #229 of 366 The Best Movies Based On Books #405 of 581 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

6
Fort Apache is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Ward Bond

Released: 1948

Directed by: John Ford

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

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#138 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #34 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #18 of 99 The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked

7
The Ox-Bow Incident is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn, Margaret Hamilton

Released: 1943

Directed by: William A. Wellman

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
8
Blood on the Moon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Preston

Released: 1948

Directed by: Robert Wise

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

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#206 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #144 of 173 The Best Film Noir Movies

9
Duel in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Orson Welles, Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones

Released: 1946

Directed by: Josef von Sternberg, William Dieterle, William Cameron Menzies, King Vidor, Sidney Franklin, + more

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

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#132 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #298 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #40 of 48 The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s

10
Pursued is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
gerard flynn added Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright, Judith Anderson

Released: 1947

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

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
11
The Return of Frank Jame... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
anne flynn added Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper

Released: 1940

Directed by: Fritz Lang

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
12
Northwest Passage is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan, Robert Young

Released: 1940

Directed by: King Vidor

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
13
They Died with Their Boo... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
anne flynn added Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Anthony Quinn

Released: 1941

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

This film 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 is a highly ...more

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#153 of 375 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #88 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Madelisted on Civil War Movies List

14
3 Godfathers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
John Wayne, Ward Bond, Harry Carey

Released: 1948

Directed by: John Ford

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

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#93 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #10 of 15 The 15 Weirdest Christmas Movies Of All Time #40 of 99 The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked

15
Yellow Sky is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark

Released: 1948

Directed by: William A. Wellman

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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#157 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #26 of 59 The Best Gregory Peck Movies

16
Angel and the Badman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey

Released: 1947

Directed by: James Edward Grant

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

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#72 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #20 of 58 Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain #2 of 162 The Best Western Movies on Amazon Prime

17
Santa Fe Trail is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn

Released: 1940

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

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

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#178 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #42 of 58 Free Movies! The Best Films in the Public Domain #34 of 47 The Best US Civil War Movies Ever Made

18
Ramrod is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
iknowwhatawesternis added Veronica Lake, Joel McCrea

Released: 1947

Directed by: André de Toth

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
19
Virginia City is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott

Released: 1940

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

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

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#203 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #30 of 253 The Best Movies of 1940 #14 of 52 The Best Errol Flynn Movies

20
The Outlaw is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Jane Russell, Walter Huston, Thomas Mitchell

Released: 1943

Directed by: Howard Hawks, Howard Hughes

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

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#5 of 162 The Best Western Movies on Amazon Prime #14 of 15 Movies Where the Director Was Fired in the Middle of Production

21
Billy the Kid is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
gerard flynn added Robert Taylor, Gene Lockhart, Brian Donlevy

Released: 1941

Directed by: Frank Borzage, David Miller

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
22
Colorado Territory is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
anne flynn added Dorothy Malone, Virginia Mayo, Joel McCrea

Released: 1949

Directed by: Raoul Walsh

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
23
San Antonio is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
gerard flynn added Errol Flynn, Monte Blue, Alexis Smith

Released: 1945

Directed by: Raoul Walsh, Robert Florey, David Butler

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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14 Chilling Ghost Stories From San Antonio, Texas #209 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #15 of 52 The Best Errol Flynn Movies

24
Western Union is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
Robert Young, John Carradine, Randolph Scott

Released: 1941

Directed by: Fritz Lang

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
25
Tall in the Saddle is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best 1940s Western Movies
John Wayne, Ward Bond, George "Gabby" Hayes

Released: 1944

Directed by: Edwin L. Marin

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

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#98 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #50 of 99 The Best John Wayne Movies of All Time, Ranked