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Best Western film from the year you were born

Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

Best Western film from the year you were born

The Western is one of the oldest genres of cinema, with many of the earliest big-screen adventures recounting tales of rough and tumble life in the Old West. Over the years, these yarns have progressed from simply amusing stories about cowboys and Native Americans to deeply compelling motion pictures in which the lines between lawman and outlaw are blurred. Stacker has put together a list of the best Western films—one representing each year since 1920.

The films were selected based on their IMDb ratings, and only English-language films released in the U.S. qualified. Those released from 1920 through 1960 must have had at least 100 IMDb votes, while those released after 1960 were required to have at least 5,000 IMDb votes.      

Now it's time to giddy up and begin a journey through the years. Along the way, you will find not only the best Western film from the year you were born but also a few ace-high Westerns with which you may have yet to be acquainted. Head 'em up and move 'em out, because this is one chronological hoedown that will turn even a tenderfoot into a true buckaroo.

RELATED: 100 best Western films of all time, according to critics

Fox Film Corporation

1920: Just Pals

IMDb rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 265

In “Just Pals,” Buck Jones played a small-town layabout who befriends a young runaway and manages to prove he possesses some purpose and worth as a result. Helen Ferguson and William Buckley also starred in director John Ford’s silent film, which was more a character study than a typical Western.

Mesco Pictures

1921: Jesse James as the Outlaw

IMDb rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 39

“Jesse James as the Outlaw” depicts the title character (portrayed by his own son, Jesse James Jr.) as he returns to his Missouri home after the Civil War. His hopes for a quiet and peaceful life are dashed when he is falsely accused of robbing a bank and is branded an outlaw. The story was retold in 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” in which Brad Pitt played the protagonist.

Fox Film Corporation

1922: Sky High

IMDb rating: 5.9
IMDb votes: 119

In "Sky High," Tom Mix plays a government agent whose investigation into the smuggling of undocumented Chinese workers across the border from Mexico takes him to the Grand Canyon. It is there that he crosses paths with a beautiful and mysterious young woman who happens to have ties to the illegal operation.

Paramount Pictures

1923: The Covered Wagon

IMDb rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 384

J. Warren Kerrigan, Alan Hale, and Lois Wilson star in “The Covered Wagon,” a silent film in which a pair of wagon caravans converge in Kansas and embark on a trek toward Oregon. Along the way, they experience several challenging situations including sweltering heat, frigid snow, hunger, and an attack by Native Americans. However, the most challenging situation of all is the love triangle that develops. The movie was a passion project for producer Jesse L. Lasky, who, according to his son, saw it as an "opportunity to lift the Western, which had always been a rather low-budget kind of potboiler film, into an epic."

Metro-Goldwyn Pictures Corporation

1924: Greed

IMDb rating: 7.9
IMDb votes: 7,874

In “Greed,” Gibson Gowland plays a dentist whose fiancee (ZaSu Pitts) wins a $5,000 lottery. The situation spurs jealousy in the woman’s ex-boyfriend (Jean Hersholt), who reports the dentist for operating without a license. This sends the newlyweds into poverty and kickstarts a series of events that eventually leads to a murder and a final confrontation in Death Valley. Turner Entertainment reconstructed the silent film in 1999 to create an extended 250-minute version.

Buster Keaton Productions

1925: Go West

IMDb rating: 7.2
IMDb votes: 3,053

Buster Keaton plays a New Yorker who travels west with the hope of making money as a cowboy in “Go West.” Once in the country, he attempts to tackle several jobs—including bronco-busting, cattle wrangling, and dairy farming—before finally leading a herd of cattle through Los Angeles. Keaton’s main costar was a cow named Brown Eyes, who played herself in the silent film.

Buster Keaton Productions

1926: The General

IMDb rating: 8.2
IMDb votes: 66,228

Buster Keaton stars as a locomotive engineer in “The General,” a silent film inspired by the true story of the Civil War’s Great Locomotive Chase. Although initial critical reviews and box office returns were weak, Keaton maintained the motion picture was one of his favorite projects. The movie has since received acclaim from modern critics, who call it the “greatest comic epic of all time.”

Action Pictures

1927: The Desert of the Lost

IMDb rating: 7.4
IMDb votes: 5

In “The Desert of the Lost,” Hal Taliaferro plays a man who, having shot someone in self-defense but being unable to prove it, flees to Mexico with a detective (Edward Cecil) in tow. Once there, he befriends the daughter (Peggy Montgomery) of a renegade American innkeeper (William Dyer) and defends her honor against her father and the bandit (Richard Neill) she is being forced to marry.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1928: The Wind

IMDb rating: 8.3
IMDb votes: 5,250

In “The Wind,” Lillian Gish plays an impoverished young woman from Virginia who moves in with her cousin (Edward Earle) in Texas and has trouble adapting to life in the Wild West. The silent film was originally set to end with Gish’s character being driven to insanity and wandering off into the desert. However, MGM ordered a happy ending before the movie’s release.

RKO Radio Pictures

1929: Rio Rita

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 559

Starring John Boles, “Rio Rita” is the story of a Texas Ranger who falls in love with a south-of-the-border beauty (Bebe Daniels) while in pursuit of a bandit he believes may be the woman’s brother. Comedy duo Abbott and Costello made a movie by the same title in 1942. It used two of the original Western musical's songs but featured an entirely different plot.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1930: Way Out West

IMDb rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 624

William Haines plays a carnival barker who cons a group of cowboys out of their money in “Way Out West.” When his con is discovered, the cowboys force him to work off his debt on their ranch, where he falls in love with its owner (Leila Hyams), who is also the love interest of the ranch foreman (Francis X. Bushman Jr.). Haines was one of MGM's top stars when "Way Out West" was released, and though his movie career would end just a few years later, he is now remembered as Hollywood's first openly gay celebrity.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1931: The Squaw Man

IMDb rating: 6.5
IMDb votes: 256

In “The Squaw Man,” Warner Baxter played an English aristocrat who travels west while being investigated for a crime that was actually committed by his cousin (Paul Cavanagh). He then falls in love with, marries, and has a child with a Native American woman played by Lupe Velez. The movie was director Cecil B. DeMille’s third adaptation of the story, which began as a stage production; his previous two big-screen versions were released in 1914 and 1918.

Universal Pictures

1932: Law and Order

IMDb rating: 6.9
IMDb votes: 201

In “Law and Order,” Walter Huston plays a former peace officer who arrives in Tombstone, Ariz. There, he accepts the job of marshal in an attempt to tame the town, which has been terrorized by three brothers. The movie marked the first time that the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was depicted on the big screen.

Mary Pickford Company

1933: Secrets

IMDb rating: 7.5
IMDb votes: 427

“Secrets” tells the story of a New England debutante (played by Mary Pickford) who accompanies her husband (Leslie Howard) to California on a quest to build a fortune and a family. Once there, the couple is challenged with the Wild West’s way of life but finds success and happiness nonetheless. A remake of a 1924 silent film by the same name, Pickford was originally set to star in an adaption three years earlier, but was unhappy with the results and ordered the footage to be destroyed.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1934: Operator 13

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 1,129

In “Operator 13,” Marion Davies plays a Union spy who impersonates a black maid during the Civil War. However, things get much more complicated for her when she falls in love with a Confederate officer (Gary Cooper). Cinematographer George Folsey received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the film, which otherwise has not aged well due to its reliance on blackface and racist stereotypes.

Mascot Pictures

1935: The Miracle Rider

IMDb rating: 7.2
IMDb votes: 116

Tom Mix plays a man who joins the Texas Rangers in an effort to avenge his father's death in “The Miracle Rider.” A proponent of Native American rights, he works to stop an oil company owner (Charles Middleton) from mining explosive elements from a reservation. The movie was silent film star Mix’s last movie and his only sound serial.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1936: Three Godfathers

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 451

“Three Godfathers” stars Chester Morris, Lewis Stone, and Walter Brennan as outlaws who rob a bank and retreat to the desert. Once there, the fugitives find a wagon with a dying mother and her baby, for which they are suddenly tasked with caring. The movie was remade in 1948 by director John Ford, with John Wayne in a leading role.

Hal Roach Studios

1937: Way Out West

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 6,350

In “Way Out West,” comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play men who are asked to deliver the deed to a goldmine in a small village to an old prospector’s daughter (Rosina Lawrence). When the deed is stolen by someone impersonating the woman, the two make it their mission to retrieve it. The movie is well known for its songs “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” and “At The Ball, That's All,” the latter of which was featured in a salute to Laurel and Hardy producer Hal Roach during the 1992 Academy Awards.

Republic Pictures (I)

1938: The Lone Ranger

IMDb rating: 7.1
IMDb votes: 146

“The Lone Ranger” was originally a 15-chapter serial about a masked former Texas Ranger who fights outlaws with his Native American friend Tonto (Chief Thundercloud) and his trusty horse Silver. The 262-minute serial was recut and condensed into a single 69-minute feature titled “Hi-Yo Silver” in 1940.

United Artists // Wikimedia Commons

1939: Stagecoach

IMDb rating: 7.9
IMDb votes: 35,374

A group of strangers rides a stagecoach through dangerous Apache territory in “Stagecoach.” John Wayne and Claire Trevor lead a cast that also includes Thomas Mitchell, Louise Platt, and Donald Meek, with Andy Devine playing the stage driver and George Bancroft playing his shotgun guard. Director John Ford was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the film, which was also nominated for Best Picture and scored a Best Supporting Actor win for Mitchell.


Twentieth Century Fox

1940: The Mark of Zorro

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 8,199

Tyrone Power plays a swordsman who masquerades as a bandit in an effort to save California’s common folk from an oppressor (J. Edward Bromberg) in “The Mark of Zorro.” During his quest to restore justice, he falls in love with the oppressor’s daughter (Linda Darnell). The movie is a remake of a 1920 silent film by the same title and has since led to the creation of various other movies and properties based on the character.

Warner Bros.

1941: They Died with Their Boots On

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 4,992

“They Died with Their Boots On” is a fictionalized account of the life of General George Custer, beginning with his training at West Point United States Military Academy, continuing through his time in the American Civil War, and culminating with his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. General Custer was portrayed by Errol Flynn in this, his last of eight roles opposite actress Olivia de Havilland.

Universal Pictures

1942: Ride 'Em Cowboy

IMDb rating: 7.1
IMDb votes: 1,226

In “Ride ‘Em Cowboy,” Abbott and Costello play rodeo peanut vendors who are forced to hide out on a train heading west in order to escape their angry boss. Despite having no experience as cowboys, they take jobs on a dude ranch, where they encounter common occurrences of life out West. The film also featured singer Ella Fitzgerald in her first onscreen appearance.

Twentieth Century Fox

1943: The Ox-Bow Incident

IMDb rating: 8.1
IMDb votes: 17,868

In “The Ox-Bow Incident,” members of a posse capture three men suspected of killing a local farmer and debate whether or not to lynch them. Henry Fonda plays one of the members of the posse, while Dana Andrews plays one of the men suspected of murder. Other stars include Mary Beth Hughes, Harry Morgan, Harry Davenport, Frank Conroy, William Eythe, George Meeker, Anthony Quinn, and Francis Ford (brother of film director John Ford).

RKO Radio Pictures

1944: Tall in the Saddle

IMDb rating: 7.1
IMDb votes: 2,354

Starring John Wayne, “Tall in the Saddle” tells the story of a quiet cowboy who arrives in Arizona to begin his new job as a ranch hand only to discover that his employer has been murdered. Ella Raines plays Wayne’s love interest, the fiery owner of a neighboring ranch, and other stars include Ward Bond, George “Gabby” Hayes, Audrey Long, Elisabeth Risdon, and Don Douglas.

International Pictures (I)

1945: Along Came Jones

IMDb rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 1,475

In “Along Came Jones,” Gary Cooper plays an easygoing man who is mistaken for an outlaw. Meanwhile, the real criminal (Dan Duryea) hides out in the home of his girlfriend (Loretta Young), who slowly but surely develops feelings for Cooper’s character. It is the only film for which Cooper served as a producer during his long movie career.

Twentieth Century Fox

1946: My Darling Clementine

IMDb rating: 7.8
IMDb votes: 18,337

“My Darling Clementine” starred Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp, who takes a job as the sheriff of Tombstone, Ariz., in an effort to bring in the men who stole his family’s cattle and killed his brother. John Ford directed the motion picture, which was inspired by the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. The cast also included Victor Mature, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Cathy Downs, and Ward Bond.

United States Pictures

1947: Pursued

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 2,299

In “Pursued,” Robert Mitchum plays a man who is haunted by the memory of the night his whole family was murdered. Having grown up with a neighboring family, he falls in love with his adoptive sister (Teresa Wright), much to the dismay of her brother (John Rodney) and dangerous uncle (Dean Jagger). Film historians refer to the film as the first “psychological” Western.

Warner Bros.

1948: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

IMDb rating: 8.3
IMDb votes: 95,004

In “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt play unemployed drifters who convince an old prospector (Walter Huston) to help them mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Huston won an Academy Award for his performance in the film, as did his son John for his writing and directing duties. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture, but it lost to “Hamlet.”

Argosy Pictures

1949: She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

IMDb rating: 7.4
IMDb votes: 13,352

John Wayne plays an aging U.S. Calvary captain who, on the eve of retirement, takes out one final patrol to stop an impending attack by Native Americans in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” Director John Ford initially did not want to cast Wayne as the motion picture’s protagonist due to the age difference between the actor and the character. However, once production had completed, Ford was far and away impressed with Wayne’s performance—as was Wayne himself.

Universal International Pictures (UI)

1950: Winchester '73

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 14,110

In “Winchester ‘73,” James Stewart plays a cowboy who wins a rifle in a shooting contest against an outlaw (Stephen McNally). The outlaw then steals the rifle, sending Stewart’s character on a journey that traces the firearm from one ill-fated owner to another.


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1951: Westward the Women

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 2,182

In “Westward the Women,” Robert Taylor plays a wagon master who is hired to escort 140 women from Chicago to a ranching community in California to marry the men who live there. Along the way, he falls in love with one of the women, a former prostitute looking to start a new life (Denise Darcel). Frank Capra, who wrote the story, was originally set to direct the film himself, with Gary Cooper in the lead. However, Capra later sold the story to his neighbor, William A. Wellman.

Stanley Kramer Productions

1952: High Noon

IMDb rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 86,624

Gary Cooper plays a town marshal who resigns his post to please his new wife (Grace Kelly) in “High Noon.” However, as the town is threatened by the arrival of an outlaw and the new marshal fails to show up, Cooper’s character makes plans to face the foe himself at high noon. Cooper scored an Academy Award for his performance in the film, which won a total of four out of the seven Oscars for which it was nominated.

Paramount Pictures

1953: Shane

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 31,618

In “Shane,” Alan Ladd plays a weary gunfighter whose hopes of settling down with a family are dashed when a settler/rancher conflict forces him to take action. Brandon De Wilde and Jack Palance earned Academy Award nominations for their supporting performances in the film, and director George Stevens and screenwriter A.B. Guthrie, Jr. were also nominated. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture, but ultimately walked away with just one Oscar for cinematography.

Republic Pictures (I)

1954: Johnny Guitar

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 12,805

In “Johnny Guitar,” Joan Crawford plays a strong-willed saloon owner who helps a wounded gang member (Sterling Hayden), but is then framed for murder and bank robbery by a rival rancher (Mercedes McCambridge). Film historians claim the movie is particularly notable because it reverses the roles of the standard Western.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

1955: Bad Day at Black Rock

IMDb rating: 7.8
IMDb votes: 16,334

Spencer Tracy stars in “Bad Day at Black Rock” as a one-armed veteran who arrives in an isolated desert town only to discover that its residents will go to violent lengths to keep its past a secret. Tracy earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the film, while John Sturges and Millard Kaufman scored nominations for their direction and writing, respectively.

C.V. Whitney Pictures

1956: The Searchers

IMDb rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 69,318

In “The Searchers,” John Wayne plays a Civil War veteran who tracks down the Native American tribe that slaughtered his family and abducted his niece (Natalie Wood). The movie was a financial success, but it failed to score any Academy Award nominations. However, it has since been the subject of several documentaries and earned a score of accolades, including a place at the top of the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 best Western films ever made.

Columbia Pictures Corporation

1957: 3:10 to Yuma

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 15,796

In “3:10 to Yuma,” Van Heflin plays a broke rancher who is hired for the simple task of putting a captured outlaw (Glenn Ford) on the 3:10 train to Yuma. However, things get far more complicated for him when the outlaw’s gang makes an attempt to free him. Ford was originally tapped to play the protagonist, but turned down the role for a chance to try his hand as the film’s villain. The movie was remade in 2007 with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in Heflin’s and Ford’s roles, respectively.

United Artists

1958: The Big Country

IMDb rating: 7.9
IMDb votes: 12,932

Gregory Peck plays a Maryland shipping magnate and former sea captain who travels west only to become embroiled in two families’ feud over a patch of land in “The Big Country.” Other key cast members include Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, and Burl Ives, the last of whom won an Academy Award for his supporting performance in the film.


Warner Bros.

1959: Rio Bravo

IMDb rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 47,967

In “Rio Bravo,” John Wayne plays a small-town sheriff who enlists the help of a handicapped man (Walter Brennan), an alcoholic (Dean Martin), and a young gunslinger (Ricky Nelson) in an effort to keep the brother of a ruthless cattle baron behind bars. Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, John Russell, and Claude Akins round out the cast. Wayne and director Howard Hawks later collaborated on two companion pieces to the motion picture: 1967’s “El Dorado” and 1970’s “Rio Lobo.”

Mirisch Company

1960: The Magnificent Seven

IMDb rating: 7.8
IMDb votes: 76,646

Seven American gunmen join together in an effort to protect a Mexican peasant village from bandits in “The Magnificent Seven,” a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese film “Seven Samurai.”  The movie’s all-star cast includes Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn, and Horst Buchholz. The property spawned three sequels, a 1990s television series, and a 2016 remake.

Seven Arts Productions

1961: The Misfits

IMDb rating: 7.4
IMDb votes: 14,694

Marilyn Monroe stars in “The Misfits” as a divorcée who falls in love with an aging cowboy used to a life free from romantic entanglements (Clark Gable). The movie was both Monroe’s and Gable’s final film. Gable suffered a fatal heart attack less than two weeks after production ended, and Monroe died of a drug overdose just over a year later.

Paramount Pictures

1962: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

IMDb rating: 8.1
IMDb votes: 59,403

“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” marked James Stewart and John Wayne’s first pairing on the big screen. Stewart played a senator famous for shooting a notorious outlaw. He attends the funeral of a rancher (Wayne) and recounts the true story of the incident. Unlike many other Westerns of the era, the movie was shot and released in black and white instead of in color.

Batjac Productions

1963: McLintock!

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 10,544

In “McLintock!,” John Wayne stars as the titular character, a wealthy rancher who keeps the peace between farmers, ranchers, land-grabbers, Native Americans, and corrupt government officials all as his estranged wife (Maureen O’Hara) returns to town. The story was loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” "McLintock!" was a family affair for Wayne; his son Patrick and daughter Aissa had roles in the movie, while his eldest son Michael earned his first producing credit on the project.

George Pal Productions

1964: 7 Faces of Dr. Lao

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 3,826

Tony Randall stars as several characters in “The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao,” all of whom are connected to the same Chinese showman whose traveling circus has a strange yet healing effect on the residents of the fictional town of Abalone, Ariz. The film’s story was adapted from Charles G. Finney’s 1935 fantasy novel “The Circus of Dr. Lao.” The movie earned an Academy Award nomination for Special Visual Effects. It lost to “Mary Poppins,” but received an honorary award for makeup.

Universal Pictures

1965: Shenandoah

IMDb rating: 7.4
IMDb votes: 6,750

In “Shenandoah,” James Stewart plays a Virginia farmer whose attempt to remain neutral during the Civil War is spoiled when one of his sons (Phillip Alford) is captured as a prisoner of war by Union soldiers. He then fights to save his son and keep his family together. The movie inspired a 1975 Broadway musical that earned Tony Awards for Best Actor and Best Book of a Musical.

Produzioni Europee Associate (PEA)

1966: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

IMDb rating: 8.9
IMDb votes: 578,765

In “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef play men who form an uneasy alliance in an effort to track down a fortune in gold that has been buried in a cemetery. Its theme song is widely considered one of the most recognizable and popular movie themes of all time, even climbing as high as #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Paramount Pictures

1967: El Dorado

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 20,177

A companion piece to 1959’s “Rio Bravo,” “El Dorado” starred John Wayne and Robert Mitchum as a gunslinger and a sheriff who join forces with a Native American and a gambler to help a rancher fight a rival who is trying to steal his water. The movie’s cast also includes James Caan, who was reportedly unaware until seeing the film that his part was intended to be comic relief.


Leonard Freeman Production

1968: Hang 'Em High

IMDb rating: 7.0
IMDb votes: 29,190

In “Hang 'Em High,” Clint Eastwood plays a mysterious drifter who is wrongly accused of murder, hung from a tree, and left for dead. However, he survives and brings the real killer to justice, which earns him a job as a marshal—a post he uses to seek revenge on the men who tried to kill him. Inger Stevens, Ed Begley, and Pat Hingle round out the film’s cast.

Twentieth Century Fox

1969: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

IMDb rating: 8.1
IMDb votes: 176,365

In “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Paul Newman and Robert Redford play the title characters, the leaders of a band of outlaws. When their attempt to rob a train goes awry, they find themselves on the run with the hope of escaping to Bolivia. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It ultimately won four of those awards, including Best Original Song for Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head.”

Cinema Center Films

1970: Little Big Man

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 29,254

Dustin Hoffman plays an American pioneer who is raised by Native Americans and ends up fighting alongside General Custer in “Little Big Man.” Faye Dunaway also stars in the comedic Western, as does Chief Dan George, who earned an Academy Award for his supporting performance in the film. It was the first time a Native American had ever been honored by the Academy.

David Foster Productions

1971: McCabe & Mrs. Miller

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 18,550

In “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” Warren Beatty and Julie Christie play the title characters, a gambler and a prostitute who become business partners in an Old West mining town. Their business thrives until a large corporation arrives and threatens its success. Christie earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in the film, which is often referred to as an “anti-Western” because it turned a number of the genre’s conventions on their heads.

Sanford Productions (III)

1972: Jeremiah Johnson

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 23,898

In “Jeremiah Johnson,” Robert Redford stars as the title character, a Mexican War veteran-turned-mountain man whose hermit lifestyle is threatened by Native Americans. Warner Brothers Pictures wanted to shoot the film on its back lot to keep costs down, but Redford and director Sydney Pollack insisted it be shot on location near Zion National Park in Utah. They got their wish but, as a result, had to do without dressing rooms, wardrobe, and a bathroom throughout much of production.


Universal Pictures

1973: High Plains Drifter

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 42,033

Clint Eastwood directed and starred in “High Plains Drifter,” a revisionist Western in which a mysterious gunslinger arrives in a small settlement and helps its residents hold off three approaching outlaws. Eastwood drew much of his inspiration for the direction of the film from his previous collaborations with directors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, and he gives them an honorary nod during the movie’s final scene, in which their names can be seen on tombstones in a graveyard.


Crossbow Productions

1974: Blazing Saddles

IMDb rating: 7.8
IMDb votes: 108,751

In “Blazing Saddles,” Harvey Korman plays a corrupt politician who convinces a dimwitted governor (Mel Brooks) to appoint a black railroad worker (Cleavon Little) as the new sheriff of an Old West town in an effort to create chaos. An alcoholic gunslinger (Gene Wilder), however, helps the new sheriff beat the odds and bring law and order to the town. Madeline Kahn earned an Academy Award nomination for her supporting performance in the comedic Western, which was also nominated for Best Film Editing and Best Original Song.

Hal Wallis Productions

1975: Rooster Cogburn

IMDb rating: 6.9
IMDb votes: 9,107

In “Rooster Cogburn,” John Wayne stars as the title character, an aging U.S. Marshal who joins a minister’s daughter (Katharine Hepburn) on a quest to track down the band of outlaws who killed her father. Wayne reprised the character he originally played in 1969’s “True Grit”—a role for which he won his only Academy Award.

Warner Bros.

1976: The Outlaw Josey Wales

IMDb rating: 7.9
IMDb votes: 56,512

In “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Clint Eastwood plays a peaceful farmer who joins a Confederate guerrilla unit when his family is murdered by Union soldiers during the Civil War. After the war, he is branded an outlaw and pursued by bounty hunters. Eastwood directed the film himself after firing writer and director Philip Kaufman, who adapted the story from a book written by half-Cherokee poet Forrest Carter.

Dino De Laurentiis Company

1977: The White Buffalo

IMDb rating: 6.2
IMDb votes: 3,163

In “The White Buffalo,” James Bronson portrays Wild Bill Hickok, a folk hero who, haunted by dreams of a giant white buffalo, travels west in search of the beast. Along the way, he teams up with a Native American (Will Sampson) searching for the creature he believes killed his daughter. Special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi built the movie’s mechanical white buffalo, which is said to have been based on similar technical principles as the mechanical gorilla he created for 1976’s “King Kong.”

Paramount Pictures

1978: Goin' South

IMDb rating: 6.3
IMDb votes: 5,249

Jack Nicholson starred in and directed “Goin’ South,” a comedic Western in which Mary Steenburgen played a headstrong bachelorette who saves a horse thief (Nicholson) from the gallows by agreeing to marry him. The film’s supporting cast included Christopher Lloyd, John Belushi, Richard Bradford, Veronica Cartwright, Danny DeVito, and Ed Begley, Jr. It did not do very well at the box office and earned its fair share of negative reviews from critics, but defenders admired its tendency to twist conventions of the Western genre.


Warner Bros.

1979: The Frisco Kid

IMDb rating: 6.4
IMDb votes: 7,543

In “The Frisco Kid,” Gene Wilder plays a Polish rabbi who wanders around the Old West on his way to a San Francisco synagogue. Along the way, he meets and befriends an outlaw (Harrison Ford), who accompanies him on his journey. Ford’s role was originally intended for John Wayne, but the actor dropped out shortly before production as a result of salary disputes. Director Robert Aldrich was reportedly so disappointed that he put a tremendous amount of pressure on Ford, whose scenes were often left on the cutting room floor.

United Artists

1980: The Long Riders

IMDb rating: 7.1
IMDb votes: 8,281

Director Walter Hill sympathetically explored the origins, the adventures, and the ultimate fate of the James-Younger gang in 1980's “The Long Riders.” The film follows two bands of brothers who join forces to become bank robbers, and the actors who played the brothers were themselves related: James and Stacy Keach portrayed Jesse and Frank James, while David, Keith, and Robert Carradine played Cole, Jim, and Bob Younger. Dennis and Randy Quaid also played brothers in the film, as did Christopher and Nicholas Guest.

Golden Harvest Company

1981: Death Hunt

IMDb rating: 7.0
IMDb votes: 5,771

In “Death Hunt,” Charles Bronson plays a trapper whose feud with a dog owner escalates to him being wrongfully accused of murder. Suddenly finding himself a fugitive, his expert knowledge of the frigid Canadian wilderness allows him to survive and evade the law amidst the manhunt. Robert Aldrich was initially hired to direct themovie, originally titled “Arctic Rampage,” but he was fired and replaced by Peter R. Hunt.

The Malpaso Company

1982: Honkytonk Man

IMDb rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 6,782

In “Honkytonk Man,” Clint Eastwood plays a musician who is offered the chance to audition for the Grand Ole Opry and enlists the help of his nephew—played by Eastwood’s real-life son Kyle—to drive him to Nashville. Eastwood also directed the film, which features performances by numerous country music artists including Marty Robbins in his final onscreen appearance.



1983: Lone Wolf McQuade

IMDb rating: 6.4
IMDb votes: 9,023

In “Lone Wolf McQuade,” Chuck Norris plays a Texas Ranger and martial arts expert whose attempt to catch a dangerous drug lord (David Carradine) selling U.S. military weapons to Central American terrorists results in the death of an old friend. He teams up with an FBI agent (Leon Isaac Kennedy) to bring a stop to the criminal and avenge his friend’s death. The movie was shot in Texas, including a desert with a high rattlesnake population. There are even reports of a rattlesnake crawling into bed and interrupting a love scene between Norris and his love interest in the film, Barbara Carrera.

CineStar Productions

1984: Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold

IMDb rating: 4.3
IMDb votes: 251

Laurene Landon and Ken Roberson play a headstrong blonde and her laidback sidekick, respectively, in “Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold.” While searching for a fortune in Mayan gold, the pair encounters a Mexican army, a bunch of bandits, and a tribe of Aztec warriors, all of whom threaten to end their search and their lives.

Malpaso Company

1985: Pale Rider

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 44,672

In “Pale Rider,” Clint Eastwood plays a mysterious preacher who helps defend the residents of a small village against a greedy mining company trying to take their land. The movie grossed $41 million against a $6.9 million production budget, earning it the title of the highest-grossing Western released in the 1980s.

L.A. Films

1986: ¡Three Amigos!

IMDb rating: 6.4
IMDb votes: 59,224

In “¡Three Amigos!,” Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short play a trio of silent movie stars who inadvertently find themselves mixed up with a ruthless Mexican gang leader (Alfonso Arau). Martin, who co-wrote the screenplay, had always been attached to the project. However, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi were at one time tapped to costar—as were Bill Murray and Robin Williams at a later date—before Chase and Short signed onto the project.

Carolco Entertainment

1987: Extreme Prejudice

IMDb rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 5,108

In “Extreme Prejudice,” Nick Nolte and Powers Boothe play men who were once childhood friends but suddenly find themselves on opposite sides of the law—and the border—as a Texas Ranger and a Mexican drug lord. Nolte prepared for his role by spending time alongside real-life Texas Ranger Joaquin Jackson.

Morgan Creek Entertainment Group

1988: Young Guns

IMDb rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 47,277

“Young Guns” stars Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, and Casey Siemaszko as gunslingers who become deputies in an effort to avenge a murder of one of their friends. Estevez portrays Old West gunslinger Billy the Kid in the film, which spawned a 1990 sequel in which Estevez, Sutherland, and Phillips reprised their roles.


Vestron Pictures

1989: Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat

IMDb rating: 6.2
IMDb votes: 1,824

In “Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat,” David Carradine plays the leader of a colony of vampires who reside in an isolated desert town. Their peaceful existence is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a descendant of Van Helsing (Bruce Campbell) who is hell-bent on destroying them.

Tig Productions

1990: Dances with Wolves

IMDb rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 208,534

Kevin Costner plays a soldier who leaves his remote Civil War outpost to join a nearby Sioux tribe in 1990's “Dances with Wolves.” Costner also directed the film, which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, making it the first Western to do so since 1931’s “Cimarron.” The movie was not just a critical success but a financial one, grossing $184.2 million at the U.S. box office and revitalizing the Western genre.

Universal Pictures

1991: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

IMDb rating: 6.5
IMDb votes: 19,691

In “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West,” a sequel to a 1986 animated feature, Phillip Glasser voiced a mouse whose immigrant family moves out west after struggling to survive in New York City. John Cleese voiced the film’s villain, an aristocratic cat who smooth talks the mice into helping him build a saloon, while Jon Lovitz voiced his hench-spider. Other notable talents in the film include James Stewart as a bloodhound sheriff and Dom DeLuise as a kind-hearted cat.

Warner Bros.

1992: Unforgiven

IMDb rating: 8.2
IMDb votes: 319,924

Clint Eastwood plays a retired gunslinger who reluctantly agrees to take on a corrupt sheriff (Gene Hackman) in “Unforgiven.” Eastwood won an Academy Award for his directing duties on the film, which also won Best Picture. Hackman, meanwhile, won for his supporting performance. Audiences appreciated the movie—which Eastwood decided would be his last Western—to the tune of $101.2 million at the U.S. box office.

Hollywood Pictures

1993: Tombstone

IMDb rating: 7.8
IMDb votes: 107,189

In “Tombstone,” Kurt Russell portrays Wyatt Earp, whose hopes of retiring anonymously in Tombstone, Ariz., are dashed when he is called back into action to fight a vicious band of outlaws threatening the town. Val Kilmer costars in the film as Doc Holliday, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany rounding out the principal cast. Western staple Robert Mitchum agreed to narrate the story after a back injury forced him out of a planned onscreen role.

TriStar Pictures

1994: Legends of the Fall

IMDb rating: 7.5
IMDb votes: 125,721

Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn, and Henry Thomas play a father and his three sons, respectively, who succumb to the tragedies of war and romantic rivalry in “Legends of the Fall.” Pitt’s popularity propelled the movie to a $160.6 million total gross at the worldwide box office. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, of which it won one for cinematography.


Pandora Filmproduktion

1995: Dead Man

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 79,732

In “Dead Man,” Johnny Depp plays a wounded accountant who, while on the run for murder, travels to the western frontier. Once there, he encounters a Native American (Gary Farmer) who prepares him for his journey into the next life. Director Jim Jarmusch has described his film as a “psychedelic Western.”

Full Moon Entertainment

1996: Oblivion 2: Backlash

IMDb rating: 5.7
IMDb votes: 387

In “Oblivion 2: Backlash,” Maxwell Caulfield plays a bounty hunter tasked with bringing in a seductive outlaw (Musetta Vander) whose mine of a valuable mineral makes her the target of several other dangerous individuals who want the hot commodity for themselves. The movie, which was a sequel to a 1994 sci-fi Western, was shot entirely in Romania and released directly to video.

World Wide Pictures (WWP)

1997: The Ride

IMDb rating: 7.0
IMDb votes: 355

Michael Biehn plays a former world champion bull rider who has derailed his life with drinking and gambling in “The Ride.” After stealing a truck, he is assigned to community service at a ranch, where he redeems himself by teaching a young cancer patient (Brock Pierce) how to ride a bull.

TriStar Pictures

1998: The Mask of Zorro

IMDb rating: 6.7
IMDb votes: 149,205

Antonio Banderas plays a thief seeking revenge for his brother’s death in "The Mask of Zorro." He is trained by an aging swordsman (Anthony Hopkins) who shares the same enemy. Catherine Zeta-Jones also stars in the film as the aging swordsman’s long-lost daughter and the eventual love interest of the thief. The movie earned $250.3 million worldwide against a $95 million production budget, and Banderas and Zeta-Jones reprised their roles seven years later in a sequel that was far less successful.

Universal Pictures

1999: Ride with the Devil

IMDb rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 11,794

In “Ride with the Devil,” Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich play friends who join a militant group loyal to the Confederacy during the Civil War. Jeffrey Wright, Jonathan Brandis, Mark Ruffalo, and musician Jewel round out the cast of director Ang Lee’s film, which was admired by many critics for its strong acting and arresting visuals but generally ignored by moviegoers. It earned a mere $635,096 at the box office against a $38 million production budget.

Touchstone Pictures

2000: Shanghai Noon

IMDb rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 106,44

In “Shanghai Noon,” Jackie Chan plays a man named Chon Wang (a nod to genre staple John Wayne) who travels from China to America’s West in an attempt to rescue a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu). Once there, he teams up with a train robber (Owen Wilson) who helps him navigate the foreign territory despite their differences. The comedic Western was followed by a London-set sequel three years later.

Morgan Creek Entertainment Group

2001: American Outlaws

IMDb rating: 6.0
IMDb votes: 12,833

In “American Outlaws,” Colin Farrell and Scott Caan portray outlaws Jesse James and Cole Younger, who fight to retrieve the deeds to their neighbors’ homes from a corrupt railroad baron (Harris Yulin) and his second-in-command (Timothy Dalton). Critics dismissed the movie as a ripoff of “Young Guns,” which successfully depicted the James-Younger gang 13 years earlier. Audiences did not demonstrate much interest, either, with the film only earning about $13.7 million worldwide during its theatrical run.

DreamWorks Animation

2002: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

IMDb rating: 7.1
IMDb votes: 52,954

Matt Damon narrates the thoughts of a wild stallion who is captured by human wranglers and taken to a U.S. cavalry post in “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” The animated film depicts the horse’s journey during the Indian Wars as it struggles with a life in captivity and hopes to one day return to its herd in the wild. Unlike the anthropomorphic way animals are portrayed in most other animated features, the movie’s horses do not speak and instead communicate with one another through sounds and body language.

Touchstone Pictures

2003: Open Range

IMDb rating: 7.5
IMDb votes: 59,035

In “Open Range,” Kevin Costner plays a former Civil War soldier living a peaceful life as a hired hand for an open range cattleman (Robert Duvall). However, that tranquility is interrupted when a corrupt land baron (Michael Gambon) threatens his frontier friends, forcing him to take up arms once again. Costner also directed the film, which costarred Annette Bening and Diego Luna and earned $58.3 million at the U.S. box office against a $22 million budget.

Touchstone Pictures

2004: Hidalgo

IMDb rating: 6.7
IMDb votes: 71,764

In “Hidalgo,” Viggo Mortensen portrays cowboy Frank Hopkins, who travels to Arabia with his mustang Hidalgo to compete in a deadly cross-desert horse race. The titular mustang was portrayed by several American Paint horses, one of which was later purchased by Mortensen. Screenwriter John Fusco, who also worked on 1988’s “Young Guns” and 2002’s “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” bought the movie’s main stunt horse and retired him at his horse conservancy Red Road Farm.


2005: Three Burials

IMDb rating: 7.4
IMDb votes: 36,026

In “Three Burials”—also known by its extended title “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”—Tommy Lee Jones plays a ranch hand who sets out on a journey to fulfill a promise he made to his recently deceased friend (Julio Cedillo) by laying him to rest in his hometown in Mexico. Barry Pepper, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones, and Melissa Leo also appear in the film, which was inspired by the death of Texas teenager Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. during a military operation near the U.S.-Mexico border.


Icon Productions

2006: Seraphim Falls

IMDb rating: 6.7
IMDb votes: 26,623

Liam Neeson played a Confederate colonel who, at the end of the Civil War, hunts down a Union soldier (Pierce Brosnan) against whom he has a grudge. Richard Gere was originally tapped to play Brosnan’s role in the film, which received mild praise from critics who appreciated its unique, sans-villain approach. Still, it failed to make much of a dent at the box office. The revisionist Western topped out with a mere $1.2 million gross worldwide.


2007: 3:10 to Yuma

IMDb rating: 7.7
IMDb votes: 258,732

Christian Bale plays a rancher who agrees to hold a captured outlaw (Russell Crowe) awaiting a train to Yuma in “3:10 to Yuma”—a remake of the 1957 film starring Van Heflin and Glenn Ford. Much like in that movie, members of the outlaw’s gang complicate matters when they attempt to free him. The supporting cast includes Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Ben Foster, Dallas Roberts, Alan Tudyk, Vinessa Shaw, and Logan Lerman. Eric Bana and Tom Cruise were at one time attached to Bale and Crowe’s roles, respectively.

New Line Cinema

2008: Appaloosa

IMDb rating: 6.8
IMDb votes: 53,856

In “Appaloosa,” Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen play friends who are hired to bring law and order to a small town suffering under the rule of a rancher (Jeremy Irons), who killed the former sheriff and his deputies. Renee Zellweger also stars as a widow whose arrival complicates the pair’s plans in the film. Harris, who co-wrote and directed the movie, had previously starred alongside Mortensen in 2005’s “A History of Violence.”

BNS Productions

2009: Stingray Sam

IMDb rating: 7.2
IMDb votes: 698

In “Stingray Sam,” Cory McAbee plays the title character, a convict who, in an attempt to earn his freedom, enlists the help of a former accomplice to rescue a young girl (Willa Vy McAbee). McAbee also wrote and directed this sci-fi Western, which was a six-part serialized feature designed for a multi-platform release, including on the small screens of phones.


Paramount Pictures

2010: True Grit

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 267,694

Jeff Bridges plays a U.S. Marshal who helps a stubborn teenager (Hailee Steinfeld) track down her father's murderer in “True Grit,” a remake of the 1969 film for which John Wayne won his only Academy Award. Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed the updated version of the film, which they designed to be more faithful to Charles Portis’ 1968 novel by extracting more humor and violence from the story. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper had supporting roles in the movie, which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards but won none.

Paramount Pictures

2011: Rango

IMDb rating: 7.2
IMDb votes: 204,742

In “Rango,” Johnny Depp voices the title character, a pet chameleon who accidentally winds up in a lawless wild west town in the middle of the Mojave Desert. He is appointed sheriff when he inadvertently kills the hawk that has been terrorizing the town’s residents. He quickly discovers, however, that he is in way over his head. The Best Animated Feature winner at that year’s Academy Awards was also a hit at the box office, earning $245.7 million worldwide against a $135 million production budget.


The Weinstein Company

2012: Django Unchained

IMDb rating: 8.4
IMDb votes: 1,125,254

Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave who, with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), sets out to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) in “Django Unchained.” Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed the film, which grossed $425.4 million worldwide, making it the filmmaker’s biggest box office total ever. Tarantino also won an Academy Award for his directing duties on the motion picture, as did Waltz for his supporting performance.

Walt Disney Pictures

2013: The Lone Ranger

IMDb rating: 6.5
IMDb votes: 200,147

In “The Lone Ranger,” Armie Hammer played a Texas Ranger who, left for dead, returns to life with the help of a mysterious Native American (Johnny Depp) and sets out to bring the outlaws who killed his comrades to justice. The adaptation of the 1933 radio series of the same title had long been in development and was plagued with problems throughout its production—especially related to its budget, which eventually skyrocketed to $215 million.



2014: The Homesman

IMDb rating: 6.6
IMDb votes: 25,902

Hilary Swank plays a woman who saves a claim jumper (Tommy Lee Jones) from hanging in “The Homesman.” In exchange for her help, she requests that he accompany her on a cross-country trip to transport three women, who have been driven mad by pioneer life, to a church that cares for the mentally ill. The film has been called a “feminist Western” due to its rare exploration of the lives of women in the Old West.

Regency Enterprises

2015: The Revenant

IMDb rating: 8.0
IMDb votes: 558,310

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a frontiersman who is mauled by a bear and left for dead during a fur trading expedition in “The Revenant.” He struggles to survive absolutely brutal conditions on his journey home to confront his former friend (Tom Hardy). DiCaprio won an Academy Award for his performance, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu won another for his directing duties on the film, which earned 10 other Oscar nominations and a $533 million box office haul.


Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

2016: Hell or High Water

IMDb rating: 7.6
IMDb votes: 152,588

In “Hell or High Water,” Chris Pine plays a divorced father who reunites with his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) to rob branches of the bank that is threatening to foreclose on their family’s ranch. Their plan appears to work until a retiring Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges), desperate for one last notch in his belt, begins to close in on them. The neo-Western crime thriller scored four Academy Award nominations and a lot of acclaim from critics for its complex narrative, confident pacing, and well-rounded characters.

Highwayman Films

2017: The Rider

IMDb rating: 7.5
IMDb votes: 8,471

Sophomore writer and director Chloé Zhao broke onto the scene at Cannes Film Festival with "The Rider," the true story of rodeo bronc rider Brady Jandreau (renamed Brady Blackburn in the film) and his poor, fringe community in South Dakota. After suffering a severe head injury, Brady is forced to stop riding. What unfolds is a contemplative reflection on risk, family, and the value of living. Most remarkably, the movie is void of actors, with almost every character playing themselves as they relive beautiful and traumatic moments of their own lives. 


2018: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

IMDb rating: 7.3
IMDb votes: 74,614

Two years after their feature-length series of connected Golden Age Hollywood vignettes "Hail, Caesar!," the Coen brothers returned with a more staunchly divided feature-length piece. "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" is comprised of six short Western films with no plot connections that are diverse in cinematography, style, and tone. The film's unique style, bombastic characters, sing-songy pleasantries, directorial stamps, and strong thematic throughline rendered it a popular and critical success

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