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100 best Westerns of all time

1/
The Weinstein Company

100 best Westerns of all time

The Western was the most-produced genre in the American film industry up to 1970. It allowed audiences a vision of the American imagination where its myths and legends could be viewed in clear, stark form. Westerns are always set in the “frontier,” a space of rural landscapes untrammeled by civility, modernity, or worst of all, an eastern, city slicker mindset. Westerns often take place during the period of history before urbanization overtook a landscape thought of as “untouched,” despite the Native American settlements already there.

The genre often rewrites American history so the genocide of Native Americans comes across as rational and practical, as if it was a necessary battle that had to be won. Westerns are notoriously racist and sexist, but simplistically so, propping up racial “others” as simple foes and women as the easy opposites of manly heroes.

With their stark set pieces like the one-street town set against an expansive horizon, Westerns offer clear dichotomies that are deceptively simple. Consider these films fraught binaries between good and evil, men and women, and whites and “others,” plotted within a wilderness and the desire to tame it. These films play with ideas around the personal moral code of their cowboy heroes that clash with the laws of civility. The western terrain begs for alternate codes untamed by the too-rigid morality of city folk.

Stacker surveyed all Westerns classified as feature films and TV movies with more than 10,000 user votes on IMDb. Films are ranked by IMDb user score and ties were broken by the number of votes a film received.

These films and TV movies explore heroes and antiheroes who are bolstered by their flaws as they wander, often alone, through realistic settings that depict highly stylized and abstract themes within panoramic cinematography. Western style seems realistic because it takes place in a natural setting. However, this setting enmeshes with the meanings imposed upon it—ideologies and institutions—that obsess over codes. These codes concern honor, justice, and gender; what it means to be a man. The cowboy figure in Westerns seems a natural persona, not one carefully crafted through symbols, myths, and fantasies. In the Western, the landscape itself is another character teeming with its own mythology, the ideal stage for pageants on American identity.

Read on to find out if your favorite Western made the top 100.

You may also like: 100 best John Wayne movies

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See-Saw Films

#100. Slow West (2015)

Directed by John Maclean

- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 38,839
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 84 min

Michael Fassbender plays the quiet, gritty cowboy in this contemporary neo-Western about a Scottish teenager who tracks a fugitive, the girl he loves, across the American countryside in 1873. Ben Mendelsohn stars as the grizzled bounty hunter also on the trail. The familiar tropes, including a gunfight finale and shots of the dead, offer a contemporary redux of the Western’s austere and inescapable poetics of brutality.

3/
Morgan Creek Entertainment

#99. Young Guns (1988)

Directed by Christopher Cain

- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 50,821
- Metascore: 50
- Runtime: 107 min

Starring Brat Pack alum Emilio Estevez as the mythic Billy the Kid, “Young Guns” follows a gang of vigilante outlaws played by ‘80s “It” boys Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Dermot Mulroney. Estevez captures the impulsive, sophomoric spirit of “the Kid” in a film that depicts adolescent masculinity during the Reagan years far more than Western life in the late 1800s.

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Killer Films

#98. I'm Not There (2007)

Directed by Todd Haynes

- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 54,339
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 135 min

Myths around Billy the Kid sync with those around Bob Dylan in Todd Hayne’s avant-garde film about the rock star’s uniquely American and ever-shifting identity. The film features six different actors as Dylan, with Richard Gere portraying an identity fashioned around outlaw tropes and set in the Old West. Dylan wrote the score for 1973’s “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” in which he also had a small role.

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#97. The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Votes: 170,685
- Metascore: 54
- Runtime: 132 min

This remake of the 1960 classic also draws on Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” with its themes about the violent, immoral threat to a community that requires heroism and sacrifice from a select few. The update features a diverse cast, one representative of the real Old West, with Denzel Washington as the leading man, a cowboy whose sense of law and order is inextricable from racial injustice.

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Rodgers & Hammerstein Productions

#96. Oklahoma! (1955)

Directed by Fred Zinnemann

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 10,418
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 145 min

Rodgers and Hammerstein score this musical about the pageantry of gendered courtship set in the farmland idyll of old-time Oklahoma. Shirley Jones plays the flirtatious Laurey choosing between the dreamy cowboy, Curly, and the swarthy farmhand, Jud.

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The Malpaso Company

#95. Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

Directed by Don Siegel

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 21,634
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 116 min

Shirley MacLaine stars as Sister Sara, a seeming nun who embodies two archetypes of Old West womanhood (purity and sin), while embroiled in political rebellion and Mexican insurgency against the French. Clint Eastwood arrives as the mercenary cowboy Hogan who saves her, helps her, and falls in love.

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Leonard Freeman Production

#94. Hang 'Em High (1968)

Directed by Ted Post

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 32,120
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 114 min

Another iconic entry in Clint Eastwood’s oeuvre as a man confronting moral codes in a world that lacks them. Cattle rustling, courtrooms, and gallows serve as the backdrops for this story about morality within a justice system so flawed it requires an outsider marshal caught in the fray, yet somehow above it.

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Annapurna Pictures

#93. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Directed by Jacques Audiard

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 36,276
- Metascore: 78
- Runtime: 122 min

A quartet of stars plays two brothers (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) trailing an outlaw duo (Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed) with a chemical formula that creates gold. The two pairs get caught in harrowing exploits before teaming up to face a world without redemption.

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Silver Sphere Corporation

#92. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Directed by Don Coscarelli

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 43,535
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 92 min

Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley in this cult film that offers an alternate history of the celebrity’s life. Now in a retirement home, he fights an ancient mummy with the real John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis), now an elderly black man, as his sidekick.

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#91. Westworld (1973)

Directed by Michael Crichton

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 47,357
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 88 min

Yul Brynner embodies the villainous robot cowboy who veers off-script in this sci-fi Western about the fears of technology. Fusing the primitive frontier with fantasies of the future, “Westworld” uses the Western archetypes of America as the set piece for a campy meditation on the simulation and nihilism inherent within the modern human experience.

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Donner/Shuler-Donner Productions

#90. Maverick (1994)

Directed by Richard Donner

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- Votes: 95,795
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 127 min

An update of the 1950s–‘60s TV series, “Maverick” explores the allure of lawless conning in this nostalgic comedy set in the Wild West. Mel Gibson plays Maverick with James Garner and Jodie Foster as sidekicks who cross and double cross each other with poker-style bluffs until the climactic card game with the big jackpot.

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Allegro Film

#89. The Dark Valley (2014)

Directed by Andreas Prochaska

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 10,800
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 115 min

Western myths resettle in the Alps in this German-Austrian drama that explores kinship and vengeance in a small mountain settlement in the late 1800s. A mysterious stranger arrives to challenge the local tyrant and his sons in this moody drama about the insidious nature of patriarchal tradition.

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Avenging Conscience

#88. Cannibal! The Musical (1993)

Directed by Trey Parker

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 11,233
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 95 min

Before “South Park” fame, Trey Parker made a low-budget musical Western based on the true story of Alferd Packer, a prospector who resorted to eating his companions to survive a harsh winter in 1874. What started as a student film later gained cult popularity and a series of adapted stage productions.

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#87. How the West Was Won (1962)

Directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall, Richard Thorpe

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 17,086
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 164 min

The title of this panoramic epic speaks to the idea of the West as an adversarial force to be tamed and beaten. The cinematography captures the brutal, but awe-inspiring beauty of the natural landscape in a star-studded drama about the spirited folks who traveled west to settle and civilize the land.

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N279 Entertainment

#86. Brimstone (2016)

Directed by Martin Koolhoven

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 31,249
- Metascore: 45
- Runtime: 148 min

Like many classic Westerns, “Brimstone” follows a character running from the law—a law that’s often arbitrary and merciless. In Western myth, the preacher figure, or lone church against a frontier backdrop, represents moral order. In “Brimstone,” Guy Pearce’s tyrannical preacher, obsessed with punishing women, hunts Liz, a frontier woman (Dakota Fanning) who can’t speak since her tongue was cut out as punishment.

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DreamWorks Animation

#85. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

Directed by Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 58,612
- Metascore: 52
- Runtime: 83 min

Voiced by Matt Damon, the mustang hero of this animated hit film evades capture by the “two-leggeds,” including an army captain who intends to break him. Once the horse meets up with a Native American, also a prisoner of the army, the pair breaks free, determined to escape enslavement.

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Caliber Media Company

#84. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Directed by S. Craig Zahler

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- Votes: 72,753
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 132 min

Fusing classic Western tropes with shock horror, “Bone Tomahawk” depicts fears of savagery (using typical racist tropes) within a gruesome cave where strange, surrealistic natives commit the unspeakable. After a white woman’s abducted, stars Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and Richard Jenkins take a harrowing journey to save her. It’s a brutal environment, but masculine codes of honor compel duty.

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Cinema Center Films

#83. Big Jake (1971)

Directed by George Sherman, John Wayne

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 10,200
- Metascore: 57
- Runtime: 110 min

John Wayne’s matinee idol close-ups still pack a punch even though he plays a grandpa cowboy looking to save his kidnapped grandson (played by his youngest son, Ethan Wayne). Patrick Wayne, also John Wayne’s child, plays his son in this story about an estranged father who returns to the fold to help his family and find redemption.

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Batjac Productions

#82. McLintock! (1963)

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 11,761
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 127 min

Loosely based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” Maureen O’Hara plays the wife of cattle baron McLintock, the iconically masculine John Wayne. His recalcitrant wife prefers “eastern” life. She’s eventually tarred, feathered, and publicly spanked—in the spirit of comedy so her final submission is treated as a light-hearted, happy ending rather than a sexist fantasy.

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Wallis-Hazen

#81. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)

Directed by John Sturges

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 12,640
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 122 min

In one of the many renditions of the Earp brother myths, Burt Lancaster plays the lawman Wyatt Earp alongside Kirk Douglas as the ailing gambler Doc Holliday. This classic film captures the mythic real-life gunfight as a stark battle between bad men and the heroes who’ll impose order on the lawless West.

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Republic Pictures (I)

#80. Rio Grande (1950)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 12,842
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 105 min

John Wayne sports a mustache in one of three of his “cavalry” films that construct and display the heroism of soldiers in the frontier. Wayne’s frequent co-star, Maureen O’Hara, plays his estranged wife. She arrives in camp to “buy” from enlistment the couple’s son. The idea of Native Americans as a savage threat provides the backdrop for masculine honor and father-son drama.

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Wallis-Hazen

#79. The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)

Directed by Henry Hathaway

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 13,161
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 122 min

John Wayne plays the eldest of four brothers who return home for their mother’s funeral to find the family ranch lost and their father murdered. Duty calls, and without help from the law and misjudged within its system, they take matters into their own hands on a quest for justice.

24/
Warner Bros.

#78. The Great Race (1965)

Directed by Blake Edwards

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 14,938
- Metascore: 71
- Runtime: 160 min

This slapstick farce follows a race between New York City and Paris with stops in a variety of locales. Jack Lemmon plays Professor Fate, a black-hatted villain. One sequence includes a stop in Borracho, a western town where the hero Leslie (Tony Curtis) gets into a saloon brawl with an outlaw. Natalie Wood also appears in this romp filled with stark tropes and more than one pie in the face.

25/
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#77. Silverado (1985)

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 34,371
- Metascore: 64
- Runtime: 133 min

This ensemble Western brings together four cowboys as unlikely heroes against a ruthless cattler. Danny Glover plays a homesteader seeking vengeance. Scott Glenn is the steely sharpshooter who survives devastating wounds to ride again. Kevin Costner plays a hot-headed bandit up for any fight. Meanwhile, Kevin Kline stars as an outlaw trying to go straight. The film’s highlight is a wondrous performance by the inimitable Linda Hunt as a saloon owner caught in the crossfire.

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Grisbi Productions, Le

#76. Hostiles (2017)

Directed by Scott Cooper

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 55,802
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 134 min

“Hostiles” begins with the harrowing massacre of white homesteaders by Comanche brutes complete with the senseless killing of innocents and war cries. The film shows that American troops are also brutal, but somehow less so. Christian Bale plays a captain assigned to transfer an Apache man (Wes Studi) and his family home. The ending offers the bleak hope of love and makeshift families after a vicious loss.

27/
Paramount Pictures

#75. Rango (2011)

Directed by Gore Verbinski

- IMDb user rating: 7.2
- Votes: 218,369
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 107 min

This animated family film takes place in a small western outpost called Dirt, and like all such towns, it needs a sheriff. Johnny Depp voices the chameleon Rango who seeks to impose order on chaos in a quirky film with stylized references to classic Spaghetti Westerns.

28/
Walt Disney Productions

#74. Old Yeller (1957)

Directed by Robert Stevenson

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 10,641
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 83 min

Disney’s tearjerker about the best doggone dog in the West follows the trials of a homestead, a woman alone with two sons, while the man of the house is off on a cattle drive. Enter the shaggy mutt, Old Yeller, as the mythic creature who teaches them all about the dangers and virtues available in a wild land that can’t always be tamed.

29/
Columbia Pictures

#73. The Professionals (1966)

Directed by Richard Brooks

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 12,569
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 117 min

In this widescreen epic, macho men take on a familiar quest: retrieving a woman captured by a villain. Jack Palance plays the evil Raza, with Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin on board as the hired guns sent to retrieve a woman who doesn’t want to be saved.

30/
West Film

#72. Trinity Is Still My Name (1971)

Directed by Enzo Barboni

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 12,897
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 117 min

This quintessential Spaghetti Western is the sequel to the earlier “They Call Me Trinity” about a pair of outlaws, Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, and their adventures in breaking the law. By the end, they’re posing as monks and beating the bad guys in an elaborately exaggerated fistfight. The film was shot in southern Italy on terrain that calls forth the wide vistas and small enclaves that characterize settings of the genre.

31/
Argosy Pictures

#71. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 14,421
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 104 min

About to retire, John Wayne’s cavalry captain character goes on one final mission in this classic Western shot in Technicolor. Visual compositions capture the iconography of Monument Valley, and the evocative style of Frederic Remington’s Western art that shows scenes of Native Americans, cowboys, and the U.S. cavalry—all in motion against a vast natural terrain.

32/
Seven Arts Productions

#70. The Misfits (1961)

Directed by John Huston

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 15,878
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 125 min

Marilyn Monroe plays a divorcee who connects with an older wrangler played by Clark Gable in this woebegone drama about loneliness set in the desolate Nevada outskirts. This was the final film of both iconic actors, and there’s something sublime and melancholy in the cowboy’s love for “the saddest girl in the world,” who wants mustangs to run free.

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#69. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

Directed by Sam Peckinpah

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 16,602
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 122 min

Kris Kristofferson plays the mythic bandit in Sam Peckinpah’s moody and violent version of the young outlaw’s life and death. Bob Dylan scored the film and plays a small role. James Coburn plays Pat Garrett, the man sent to kill the Kid. The film’s theatrical release was marred by controversy, but a cut with restored footage sealed the fate of this film as one of Peckinpah’s best.

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B.R.C. Produzione S.r.l.

#68. Django (1966)

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 22,500
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 91 min

The lone gunman Django, played by Franco Nero in the role that made him a star, is introduced dragging a coffin across desolate terrain. Close-ups pan up his body to rest on his swarthy, blue-eyed visage, and like all strong, silent cowboys he’s ruthless, but moral. He follows his own code. This influential Spaghetti Western, filled with striking compositions, follows Django as he fights two brutal gangs and saves the woman he loves.

35/
Barunson

#67. The Good the Bad the Weird (2008)

Directed by Jee-woon Kim

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 31,015
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 130 min

This Korean twist on the Western follows two outlaws and a bounty hunter on the run from the Japanese army in Manchuria during the 1940s. The film stars Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, and Woo-sung Jung as the titular trio, in this highly stylized, slapstick send-up of Spaghetti Westerns.

36/
The Malpaso Company

#66. Pale Rider (1985)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 48,373
- Metascore: 61
- Runtime: 115 min

Clint Eastwood stars as a ghostly figure, dubbed “Preacher” who arrives to help bullied prospectors after a young girl prays for a miracle. Eastwood brings his signature style of stoic intensity to the role of the man who arrives, doles out punishment and redemption, then rides off into the snowy hills. The film’s final scene offers a redux of the end of “Shane.” This time the youngster yells “I love you,” instead of “come back.”

37/
Annapurna Pictures

#65. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Directed by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

- IMDb user rating: 7.3
- Votes: 93,086
- Metascore: 79
- Runtime: 133 min

This strange and provocative Western uses vignettes to explore the violence and cruelty at the heart of survival in the Wild West. Notable stories include Liam Neeson as the proprietor of a traveling roadshow with a disabled performer and James Franco as a hapless bank robber destined for execution.

38/
20th Century Fox

#64. Hombre (1967)

Directed by Martin Ritt

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 10,308
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 111 min

Shot in Death Valley and featuring the natural landscape of Arizona in stunning compositions, “Hombre” follows the story of John Russell, a white man raised by Apaches. The film is part of a revisionist bent to critique whiteness and the treatment of Native Americans. However, with blue-eyed Paul Newman in the lead role, the film explores racism through the experience of a white man.

39/
Caviar

#63. The Rider (2017)

Directed by Chloé Zhao

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 10,522
- Metascore: 92
- Runtime: 104 min

Since Westerns obsess over taming what’s thought of as wild and free, unbroken horses are a powerful trope within the genre. Recently, “The Rider,” uses realism to examine a rodeo contestant recovering from a life-changing accident. Using non-professional actors and based on a true story, the film explores Western myths about horses and riders in an authentic, non-romantic depiction that is nonetheless triumphant.

40/
Warner Bros.

#62. The Cowboys (1972)

Directed by Mark Rydell

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 12,190
- Metascore: 52
- Runtime: 134 min

John Wayne stars in another film ostensibly about training a passel of young boys to be cattle drivers. However, with Wayne as their instructor, the film is more about teaching them about masculinity and what it is to become a man, especially when they have to step up and do the job for real.

41/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#61. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

Directed by Stanley Donen

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 19,700
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 102 min

This dazzling widescreen musical follows seven brothers named for characters in the bible in alphabetical order starting with Adam and going to Gideon. It plays with the trope of taming by showing women civilizing the unkempt, wild ways of men in order to prepare them for the happy ending promise of marriage. The barn-raising scene shows the artifice of gender through brightly colored costumes and jubilant choreography performed against the obviously fake painted backdrop of nature, a studio set rather than a natural landscape.

42/
Bocek Yapim

#60. Yahsi Bati - The Ottoman Cowboys (2009)

Directed by Ömer Faruk Sorak

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 27,134
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 112 min

A box office hit in its home country, this Turkish film is a surreally comedic send up of tropes from American Western films. The plot centers on special agents, joined by a Calamity Jane-esque sharp shooter, who take a gift to the American president. They experience the perils of the “mild West,” as the title translates.

43/
EuropaCorp

#59. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 37,230
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 121 min

In his directorial debut, Tommy Lee Jones’ neo-Western examines the way the past stays present in a story about trying to right a profound injustice. A border patrol agent kills an immigrant and quickly buries the body. The killed man’s friend exhumes the corpse to provide a proper burial. Surreal imagery and a non-linear narrative engage in a critique of the border patrol and its brutality.

44/
Wallis-Hazen

#58. True Grit (1969)

Directed by Henry Hathaway

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 39,223
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 128 min

A young, but intrepid girl hires Rooster to avenge her father’s murder. John Wayne plays the macho gunman, with his stoic performance visually punctuated by an eye patch in this film about the role, and the grit, of men in enacting justice. The girl and another ranger join Rooster, and despite perils and hardship the three form a bond fused by grit and bravery.

45/
UK Film Council

#57. The Proposition (2005)

Directed by John Hillcoat

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 47,795
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 104 min

This Western set in the 1880s Australian outback focuses on a brutal rape and the community that demands justice from the youngest brother of the gang who committed the crime. The local captain proposes to hang the boy unless an older brother (Guy Pearce) finds and kills the brother responsible. Written by Nick Cave, and brutally violent, “The Proposition” shows the futility of justice, retribution, and revenge.

46/
Touchstone Pictures

#56. Open Range (2003)

Directed by Kevin Costner

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 62,666
- Metascore: 67
- Runtime: 139 min

Beautifully shot in Alberta, Canada, “Open Range” features sweeping widescreen shots of untrammeled terrain. Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall play cattle herders, men living a pure existence thwarted by the corruption they feel compelled to avenge; shootouts ensue. The film also depicts the classic contrasts between wilderness and civility in this romance where the land itself is the lush object of affection.

47/
Universal Pictures

#55. Back to the Future Part III (1990)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

- IMDb user rating: 7.4
- Votes: 365,257
- Metascore: 55
- Runtime: 118 min

In the franchise’s third installment, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) return, this time to 1885, smack dab into a scene of cowboys and Indians, who appear unfazed by the DeLorean time machine in their midst. Moving the story to the Old West allows the hero McFly to interact with myths just as nostalgic and “classic” as those in the original’s 1950s past.

48/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#54. Ride the High Country (1962)

Directed by Sam Peckinpah

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 11,129
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 94 min

“Ride the High Country” dramatizes director Sam Peckinpah’s signature Western themes around honor, the codes of masculinity, and a lawless world that depends on men to ration justice as they see fit. The film follows gunslingers protecting gold during a time when industrial expansion is making their kind obsolete.

49/
Argosy Pictures

#53. Fort Apache (1948)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 15,085
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 128 min

Another entry in John Wayne’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” “Fort Apache” casts the classic Western hero as a captain overlooked for a post that instead goes to a pompous lieutenant played by Henry Fonda (Shirley Temple shows up as his daughter.) Wayne and Fonda vie over the right way to deal with the Apache tribe nearby.

50/
Estudios Churubusco Azteca S.A.

#52. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

Directed by Sam Peckinpah

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 16,681
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 112 min

Director Sam Peckinpah made this bleak, ultraviolent Western outside the Hollywood studio system to ensure creative control. Though panned by critics at the time, the film has since found a cult following and is considered a masterpiece of the form for its brutal examination of the human condition.

51/
West Film

#51. They Call Me Trinity (1970)

Directed by Enzo Barboni

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 17,565
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 113 min

Italian actors Terence Hill and Bud Spencer play outlaw brothers in this slapstick send-up of Spaghetti Westerns that indulges in the genre’s tropes and style for comedic effect. The brothers find themselves in a Mormon enclave after Trinity falls for two sisters, and though he intends to marry both it goes against his gunslinging, horse-thieving nature.

52/
Rafran Cinematografica

#50. My Name Is Nobody (1973)

Directed by Tonino Valerii

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 21,295
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 116 min

Henry Fonda stars as an aging quick-draw gunman confronted by the loner “Nobody” (Terence Hill) in this Spaghetti Western. Nobody pushes the old-timer to get back in the shoot-‘em-up game so the younger outlaw can replace the legendary gunslinger in the history books. Who’s the fastest? In the film’s oft-repeated conceit, “Nobody.”

53/
Producciones Panicas

#49. El Topo (1970)

Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 23,157
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 125 min

“El Topo” is known for its hyperviolent and surrealist visual style that aims to capture a hallucinogenic hellscape both offensive and alluring. Director Alejandro Jodorowsky stars as the lone cowboy on horseback (although he travels with his son) who confronts and commits slaughter often amid Christian symbols. Jodorowsky admitted to raping his co-star, Mara Lorenzio, to make the rape scene authentic. The film has a cult following in spite of a repugnance that’s mischaracterized as avant-garde.

54/
The Malpaso Company

#48. High Plains Drifter (1973)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 45,847
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 105 min

Clint Eastwood directs himself as another lone drifter figure, one of many in Western movies who ride into vulnerable towns, beat down the bullies, and then ride away. This film uses a style influenced by Italian Spaghetti Westerns, using allegory and symbols to create the loner myth as a ghost or spiritual figure to provoke conscience.

55/
TriStar Pictures

#47. Legends of the Fall (1994)

Directed by Edward Zwick

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 134,883
- Metascore: 45
- Runtime: 133 min

This sweeping melodrama follows the frontier adventures of a patriarch (Anthony Hopkins) and his trio of sons, Aiden Quinn as the civilized do-gooder, Brad Pitt as the wild individualist, and Henry Thomas as the young idealist who brings home the woman they all fall in love with. Julia Ormond’s role offers Western myths about women as the touchstones with whom men can figure out their true purpose in the new, inchoate America in clashes between frontier and city.

56/
Warner Bros.

#46. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Directed by Andrew Dominik

- IMDb user rating: 7.5
- Votes: 158,232
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 160 min

Brad Pitt plays the mythic Jesse James, with the Coward Robert Ford of the title portrayed by the lesser star Casey Affleck. The casting works for this revisionist Western’s obsession with the nature of celebrity. The stylized cinematography and stark compositions aim to reveal the role of photography in the creation of myth.

57/
HBO Films

#45. Deadwood: The Movie (2019)

Directed by Daniel Minahan

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 11,632
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 110 min

The HBO series “Deadwood” set in an outpost in South Dakota and followed a motley gang of characters who eke it out in the harsh locale. Most of the original cast returns for the movie, intended as a coda to the series that ran for three seasons in the early 2000s. Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Robin Weigert, and Molly Parker reprise their roles in this critically acclaimed wrap-up that captures bittersweet allegory about the hapless figures caught within capitalist expansion.

58/
Lionsgate

#44. 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

Directed by Delmer Daves

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 16,897
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 92 min

Based on a short story by noirist author Elmore Leonard, this suspenseful Western stars Glenn Ford, cast against type, as the villainous Ben Wade. Van Heflin plays the rancher assigned to deliver him to the law, but the honorable task proves less easy than it seems since morality codes are unstable for men in the Wild West.

59/
Paramount Pictures

#43. El Dorado (1967)

Directed by Howard Hawks

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 21,935
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 126 min

Screen idols John Wayne and Robert Mitchum star in Howard Hawks’ Technicolor dream of a Western, with compositions that visually render the myths and beauty of the Old West as rugged and masculine in its deepest heart. The two leads play aging, flawed men in conflict with another rancher in a fight against corruption as much as against their own limitations. They’re both swaggering on a crutch by the time the story ends.

60/
Sanford Productions

#42. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

Directed by Sydney Pollack

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 26,299
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 108 min

Robert Redford stars as the ultimate mountain man, a natural loner and former soldier who braves the harsh elements of the environment, including weather, grizzlies, and Native Americans. Along the way, he ends up with a makeshift family after he’s “given” a woman by her chief father. Despite endless perils, he ends up a solitary hero revered by the Native Americans.

61/
Cinema Center Films

#41. Little Big Man (1970)

Directed by Arthur Penn

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 30,830
- Metascore: 63
- Runtime: 139 min

The film begins with Dustin Hoffman as an elderly white survivor of Custer’s Last Stand. This revisionist Western aims to examine the genocide of Native Americans, and does so through the examination of a white survivor raised by the Cheyenne and a witness to injustice.

62/
Paramount Pictures

#40. Shane (1953)

Directed by George Stevens

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 33,912
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 118 min

Alan Ladd plays the mysterious drifter who sidles up to protect a bullied homesteader family, saves the day, and then rides off again into the sunset. It epitomizes so many Western tropes about the lone gunman, his code of honor, and his inevitable departure, as epitomized in the famous ending lines. “Shane! Come back,” as yelled by the child who’ll never forget the exiting hero’s masculine bravado.

63/
Pandora Filmproduktion

#39. Dead Man (1995)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 84,587
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 121 min

Jim Jarmusch’s arthouse take on the Western was filmed in black and white and features Johnny Depp as the easterner who turns into an ailing gunslinger after heading west. The film uses poetic visuals and a haunting style to revisit Western myths and the racism beneath them. As usual for this genre, this exploration occurs primarily through the bleak story of a white man.

64/
Film 44

#38. Hell or High Water (2016)

Directed by David Mackenzie

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 180,118
- Metascore: 88
- Runtime: 102 min

Set in contemporary times, this Western shows that injustice remains as brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) play modern bandits who rob banks because of unfair foreclosure on their land. Soon, they’re on the run from the law. Jeff Bridges plays the steely ranger who won’t let them go in a mode similar to classic Western lawmen who relentlessly pursue bad guys, and in doing so, reveal themselves as the same breed.

65/
Paramount Pictures

#37. True Grit (2010)

Directed by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- Votes: 287,380
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 110 min

The Coen brothers bring their signature quirky, mannered style to this remake of the earlier classic. Jeff Bridges stars as the iconic marshal with Hailee Steinfeld as the young girl trying to avenge her father’s death as she makes her way in a Western world of gallows and gallows humor in a landscape as harsh as it is existential.

66/
Adelphia Compagnia Cinematografica

#36. The Great Silence (1968)

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 12,469
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 105 min

In this Spaghetti Western, the gunman Silence (so named because of slashed vocal cords,) goes up against the nihilistic evil so often embodied by the corrupt villains of the genre. This film is known for its striking visual compositions that render the stark beauty of bleakness with unsentimental fatalism.

67/
Republic Pictures

#35. Johnny Guitar (1954)

Directed by Nicholas Ray

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 14,048
- Metascore: 83
- Runtime: 110 min

Joan Crawford’s dramatic line deliveries create radical style in this Western that gives a woman the chance to gun sling. Crawford plays a hardscrabble saloon owner caught in the crossfire between cattlers and townies. She dresses in pants and a holster and gets to fire shots in the climactic shootout.

68/
Universal International Pictures (UI)

#34. Winchester '73 (1950)

Directed by Anthony Mann

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 15,309
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 92 min

This popular Western centers on the rifle in its title—“the gun that won the West,” as the opening title puts it. The plot follows the weapon as it changes hands, going from one cowboy to the next, imbued with righteous poetic justice. Jimmy Stewart plays the cowboy who wins the gun before it’s stolen by his murderous brother, forcing him to take to the trail in pursuit.

69/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#33. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Directed by John Sturges

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 17,601
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 81 min

This Western and noir fusion focuses on a buried secret in a sun-seared Arizona town in post-World War II America. When a wounded vet (Spencer Tracy) shows up to visit his friend Komoko, townspeople try to hide the racism that fueled a violent crime. The film is notable for depicting white people’s anti-Japanese sentiment in this country during World War II.

70/
David Foster Productions

#32. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Directed by Robert Altman

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 20,029
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 120 min

Warren Beatty stars as a frontiersman who takes refuge with a prostitute, Julie Christie as Mrs. Miller, in this story about the inevitable futility of running from the bad guys who want to kill you. Director Robert Altman’s realistic style and natural, hovering camera brought a new sensibility to the genre and sought to undermine its conventions.

71/
Paramount Pictures

#31. The Shootist (1976)

Directed by Don Siegel

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 20,324
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 100 min

In John Wayne’s final film role, he plays an aging, legendary gunfighter who settles old scores while ailing from cancer. Also starring Lauren Bacall, the film seems a meditation on Wayne’s persona and the genre itself as a “dying” concept. The concept of the Old West must finally expire when there’s nothing left to conquer.

72/
Rafran Cinematografica

#30. Duck, You Sucker (1971)

Directed by Sergio Leone

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 26,907
- Metascore: 77
- Runtime: 138 min

Also known as “A Fistful of Dynamite,” Sergio Leone’s gleeful Spaghetti Western opens with a signature close-up—of urination against the dusty rocks. Next comes a rollicking and explosive story of bandits on the run. Rod Steiger plays a bank robber looking to team up with the munitions ace played by James Coburn.

73/
George Stevens Productions

#29. Giant (1956)

Directed by George Stevens

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 31,516
- Metascore: 84
- Runtime: 201 min

This epic story is notable for its exploration of race and class in the midst of family melodrama. It stars screen idols Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson as a couple whose oil fortune can’t be separated from the exploitation of the Mexican-Americans they employ. James Dean plays the field hand Jett whose status changes once he inherits land and strikes it rich.

74/
Mirisch Company

#28. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Directed by John Sturges

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 81,707
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 128 min

Using Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” as a thematic and narrative template, this iconic Western depicts an innocent community in need and the cowboy “samurai” who arrive to save it. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson star as the hero warriors in a film that explores corruption and the honor and sacrifice required to overcome it.

75/
Crossbow Productions

#27. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Directed by Mel Brooks

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 117,213
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 93 min

Mel Brooks’ send-up of Western movies spoofs the genre with slapstick silliness and lowbrow humor. While it aims to offer a satire of American racism, its bombastic style sometimes engages in crassness rather than illuminating it. Gene Wilder stars, along with Cleavon Little as the black sheriff of a white town.

76/
Lionsgate

#26. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Directed by James Mangold

- IMDb user rating: 7.7
- Votes: 272,178
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 122 min

Russell Crowe stars as the singularly diabolical Ben Wade, an outlaw so ruthless and spry, it takes epic manpower just to get him on the right train. Christian Bale plays the pioneer man who walks with a limp, and has that brand of virtue that’s flawed, but still good enough to take down a bad man.

77/
Twentieth Century Fox

#25. My Darling Clementine (1946)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 19,643
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 97 min

Henry Fonda plays Wyatt Earp in the first of many films to take on the myths around the shooting at the O.K. Corral. It’s considered one of John Ford’s definitive Western masterpieces because of its stunning visual style and captivating cinematography (even in black and white and 4:3 aspect ratio.)

78/
Monterey Productions

#24. Red River (1948)

Directed by Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 25,780
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 133 min

“Red River” explores the weighty drama of father-son relations—that clash between old and young, between the new-fangled versus the traditional that undergirds patriarchy. John Wayne plays the fatherly, tyrannical cattler who takes on a young orphan who grows up to be his greatest rival. Montgomery Clift plays the young rancher who challenges the elder cowboy and his ways.

79/
Hollywood Pictures

#23. Tombstone (1993)

Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 116,607
- Metascore: 50
- Runtime: 130 min

Kurt Russell’s campy delivery works well in this redux of the mythic Earp brothers, men trying to maintain law and order in a world brimming with villainy. The performances give this film its allure. Powers Boothe seethes with villainy as a rival leader. The gravelly bravado of Sam Elliott is right at home, and a sublime performance by Val Kilmer as the mythic Doc Holliday makes “Tombstone” a mirthful romp into the Western as male melodrama.

80/
Visiona Romantica

#22. The Hateful Eight (2015)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- Votes: 451,526
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 168 min

Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell star as part of the ensemble in Quentin Tarantino’s neo-Western about eight strangers hunkered in a remote Midwestern cabin during a blizzard in the post-Civil War years. Stylized, hyperviolent havoc ensues over a letter from Abraham Lincoln that may be a forgery.

81/
Anthony Productions

#21. The Big Country (1958)

Directed by William Wyler

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 14,142
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 166 min

Gregory Peck plays another easterner, a sailor, who goes west only to find himself embroiled in the lawless conflicts of those who live in the untamed West—the kind that are resolved through duels. Shot in Technicolor widescreen, it also stars Jean Simmons as a kidnapped woman who must be saved.

82/
Salem-Dover Productions

#20. Hud (1963)

Directed by Martin Ritt

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 17,725
- Metascore: 62
- Runtime: 112 min

Paul Newman plays “Hud,” the rakish son of a rancher who fails to live up to his dad’s expectations. Sporting a Texas accent, the role made Newman a superstar despite him playing an anti-hero. Hud represents the immoral counterpart of his principled father, which comes across less as weakness and more as the romantic rebellion of every Western outlaw who bucks his father’s rules.

83/
Walter Wanger Productions

#19. Stagecoach (1939)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 38,729
- Metascore: 93
- Runtime: 96 min

This is the film that launched John Wayne as a movie star idol in his turn as the Ringo Kid. The iconic battle scene features Apaches descending upon a stagecoach in a stereotypically hapless fashion. In contrast, the white people represent civility, law and order, and in the case of women, the conflict between the pure and the profane.

84/
Warner Bros.

#18. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 60,733
- Metascore: 69
- Runtime: 135 min

Clint Eastwood directs himself as the outlaw gunman who tries to leave his tragic past behind. After his family’s murder, he joins the confederate army, engages in illegal bloodshed, and finds himself a wanted man on the lam. Eastwood gives the character his signature stoic grit and a masculine persona bolstered by frowns and quietude.

85/
Warner Bros.

#17. The Wild Bunch (1969)

Directed by Sam Peckinpah

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 72,873
- Metascore: 95
- Runtime: 135 min

“The Wild Bunch” is Sam Peckinpah’s ode to ultraviolent shootouts set in 1913, a year seen as marking the shift between an untamed West and one fully civilized. William Holden and Ernest Borgnine star as two of the gang members on the run who, like all lawbreakers, can never escape their brutal, intrinsic criminality, even as their ways are becoming quickly outdated.

86/
C.V. Whitney Pictures

#16. The Searchers (1956)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 73,925
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 119 min

Natalie Wood stars as a frontier girl, abducted by natives, who prompts the epic search of this film’s title. The formal visual style pairs widescreen natural vistas with studio set piece nature to create a sense of artifice that matches the crude racist theme—the idea that a female raped by Native Americans is better off dead. The closing shot frames John Wayne in a cabin doorway against the frontier beyond, as if a part of it.

87/
Stanley Kramer Productions

#15. High Noon (1952)

Directed by Fred Zinnemann

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Votes: 91,215
- Metascore: 89
- Runtime: 85 min

This quintessential classic Western displays the iconography of the old town shootout and its revelry in honor and justice. Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly play newlyweds set to skip town and start anew. Once Cooper, as a soon-to-be-retired sheriff, learns that bad guy's approach, he’s conflicted over leaving with his pacifist wife or staying for his code of honor. The movie’s running time replicates the “real time” of the movie, the 80 minutes or so before a departing train and the arrival of the evil gunman.

88/
Twentieth Century Fox

#14. The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)

Directed by William A. Wellman

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 19,285
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 75 min

Henry Fonda plays another iconic Western hero who must grapple with law and order in the late 1800s. Fonda and his companions join a posse (to avoid being incriminated themselves) to track down accused men in a film that examines mob rule and critiques the codes of vengeance at the heart of the Western genre.

89/
Warner Bros.

#13. Rio Bravo (1959)

Directed by Howard Hawks

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 51,562
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 141 min

Directed by stylist Howard Hawks, the film follows three cowboys trying to maintain law and order in a world of corruption who happen to go by the iconic names Chance, Dude, and Colorado. John Wayne stars as the sheriff Chance, tasked with holding a man in jail while his corrupt and wealthy brother employs all manner of violent mayhem to bust him out. Dean Martin (Dude) aids the fight, drunk, but good-hearted, and the youngster Colorado (Ricky Nelson) also finds himself pulled into the siege.

90/
Constantin Film

#12. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Directed by Sergio Leone

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 180,323
- Metascore: 65
- Runtime: 99 min

The first in Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy,” introduces Clint Eastwood as the iconic lone gunman of Western myth. Based on Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo,” Eastwood’s cowboy offers to work for rival factions, then double-crosses both. Leone employs his signature stylistic elements such as striking compositions, arresting close-ups, and evocative musical scoring.

91/
Twentieth Century Fox

#11. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Directed by George Roy Hill

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 189,378
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 110 min

This popular buddy Western paired screen idol Paul Newman with newbie star Robert Redford as real-life bandits running from the law. It was a box office hit that used stylized composition to rework myths about outlaw heroes. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” won the Oscar for best song; it scored a scene in which Newman and co-star Katharine Ross tool through meadows on a bicycle.

92/
Tig Productions

#10. Dances with Wolves (1990)

Directed by Kevin Costner

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 222,992
- Metascore: 72
- Runtime: 181 min

Kevin Costner’s rhapsodic epic posits the idea of the “one good white man” who understands Native Americans and values the purity of their ways and land before the incoming colonial expansion in post-Civil War America. Costner plays an army captain stationed on the plains who romances a white woman raised in a Sioux tribe as he immerses in Native American culture and earns the name “Dances with Wolves.”

93/
Regency Enterprises

#9. The Revenant (2015)

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- Votes: 632,233
- Metascore: 76
- Runtime: 156 min

This archetypical tale pits man (Leonardo DiCaprio) against nature as it offers a meditation on masculinity through a plot about trappers, the 1800s pelt industry, and vengeance. Betrayed and left for dead by fellow trappers, a wounded captain must survive the elements in a hostile wilderness while hunted by Native Americans (after being mauled by a surreally tenacious bear,) until the final showdown with his mumbling mountain man nemesis (Tom Hardy).

94/
Paramount Pictures

#8. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Directed by John Ford

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 63,369
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 123 min

John Ford’s flashback story about the ways legends become fact, creates a few myths of its own around what makes a heroic man. The “man” of the title exists as a conflict between an eastern politician (Jimmy Stewart) and the Western cowboy (John Wayne) who always arrives to save him. Lee Marvin stars as the archetypical bully, Liberty Valance, so evil that whoever kills him will become a legend.

95/
Buster Keaton Productions

#7. The General (1926)

Directed by Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- Votes: 72,754
- Metascore: data not available
- Runtime: 67 min

Silent film star Buster Keaton performed his own stunts (dangerous train leaps) in this film from the tail end of the silent era. Keaton’s physical comedy and expressive visage create intensely watchable action. The “general” of the title is a steam engine, another trope of the Western genre, one that represents modern industry, expansion, and an isolated force racing across rural landscapes and vulnerable to attack.

96/
Warner Bros.

#6. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Directed by John Huston

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 104,789
- Metascore: 98
- Runtime: 126 min

Humphrey Bogart plays a down-and-out drifter on the hunt for gold in John Huston’s classic meditation on the nature of greed and the irony of riches. Three prospectors patch together supplies and discover gold in the Sierra Nevada mountains, only to succumb to depravity.

97/
Warner Bros.

#5. Unforgiven (1992)

Directed by Clint Eastwood

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Votes: 345,861
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 130 min

Gene Hackman steals the show as a corrupt sheriff who seeks to prohibit violence with shocking displays of it. Clint Eastwood directed and stars in this story about a widower pulled back to a life of crime by the promise of bounty. Morgan Freeman stars as his sidekick, but the vengeance they promise to a group of wronged prostitutes proves bleak and futile in light of a culture that doesn’t recognize humanity, especially in women.

98/
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

#4. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Directed by Sergio Leone

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Votes: 210,051
- Metascore: 74
- Runtime: 132 min

Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” returns with the second installment featuring Clint Eastwood as the “Man with No Name.” The story about hunting an iconic villain displays more of Leone’s signature stylizations, including aesthetic violence, tension created through both silence and score, arresting compositions, and masterful use of the close-up.

99/
The Weinstein Company

#3. Django Unchained (2012)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- Votes: 1,231,198
- Metascore: 81
- Runtime: 165 min

Jamie Foxx stars as Django, an enslaved man who must earn his freedom by helping a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) in the pre-Civil War South. Quentin Tarantino’s fantastical revision of American slavery portrays a too-easy vengeance against racist white slave owners. This Western doesn’t adequately portray the experience of black people, instead relying on stereotypes and stylization in its depiction of brutal American history.

100/
Rafran Cinematografica

#2. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Directed by Sergio Leone

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- Votes: 275,698
- Metascore: 80
- Runtime: 165 min

With an epic length and a striking visual style, this notable Western is considered one of Sergio Leone’s signature masterpieces. The film both critiques the myths of the West and presents them with flash, grit, and characteristic fatality. The plot follows a villainous gun for hire (Henry Fonda) and the mysterious “Harmonica” (Charles Bronson) as the rival with a secret who’ll take him down.

101/
Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

#1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Directed by Sergio Leone

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Votes: 632,270
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 178 min

The final installment of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy” with its iconic, oft-referenced title continues an exploration of the gunslinger figure, the “good,” as embodied by Clint Eastwood. With an epic 178-minute running time, and considered an emblematic Spaghetti Western, it shows Leone’s signature visual style, excessive bloodshed, and nihilistic ambiguity toward moral order. The darkly humorous sensibility meshes well with the familiar Western plot about killing bandits and stealing gold.

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