100 Greatest Western Movies

Western movies have allowed audiences to ride the dusty trails for over a century. From the film Stagecoach. Jerry Tavin, Courtesy Everett Collection.
Western movies have allowed audiences to ride the dusty trails for over a century. From the film Stagecoach. Jerry Tavin, Courtesy Everett Collection.

Like steam locomotives and town squares, Western movies are an indelible part of America’s heritage. Indeed, they are inextricably linked to the American image around the world. From a darkened theater, they transport us to a dusty world of steely eyed men, strong women, loyal sidekicks, fast horses and faster guns. Some of them rose to artistic levels that influenced how movies in all genres are made. Others were churn-em-out horse operas. But what was the top Western movie of all time, the one that would unquestionably still be standing when the gun smoke cleared?

100 Greatest Westerns, a special publication from the World History Group (on sale December 9, 2008) looks at 100 films that a panel of 10 experts selected as the best of the genre. Now we want your opinions.

Below you’ll find a link to our forums, where you can vote for your favorites among four groups of 25 titles each. You can cast eight votes in each of the four groups. Later this month, we’ll pit the top choices against each other in an elimination tournament, and you will decide which one will emerge as the greatest Western of them all. Sign-up is necessary to participate in the forums, to allow us to monitor usage and content, but membership is free and we don’t spam our members. The sign-up procedure is simple.

You’ll also find three questions below, each linked to a page where you can leave your comments. No sign-up is necessary to participate in these discussions.

It’s high noon in Dodge. Strap on your Colt, adjust your Stetson, and help us determine the greatest Western of them all.

Vote for your favorite Westerns. (Link will take you to the forum, hosted on our partner site, ArmchairGeneral.com.)


1. Which movies do you think are missing from this list?

2. Which movies don’t belong on this list?

3. What movies do you think most accurately reflect the historic Old West?

100 Greatest Westerns
High Noon (1952) Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) True Grit (1969) Will Penny (1968)
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) Heartland (1979) Lone Star (1996)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) The Shootist (1976) Virginia City (1940) The Virginian (1946)
Ride the High Country (1962) Major Dundee (1965) Maverick (1994) How the West Was Won (1962)
Rio Bravo (1959) The Professionals (1966) Duel in the Sun (1946) Two Rode Together (1961)
Seven Men From Now (1956) The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) The Westerner (1940) Hearts of the West (1975)
The Searchers (1956) The Unforgiven (1960) Hondo (1953) The Covered Wagon (1923)
Shane (1953) A Fistful of Dollars (1964) The Paleface (1948) A Thunder of Drums (1961)
Tombstone (1993) Ulzana’s Raid (1972) The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) Man From Snowy River (1982)
Red River (1948) Dances With Wolves (1990) The Big Trail (1930) Dead Man (1995)
Winchester 73 (1950) Jeremiah Johnson (1972) Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) Ride With the Devil (1999)
Stagecoach (1939) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) Laurel and Hardy Way Out West (1937) They Died With Their Boots On (1941)
Hang ’Em High (1968) Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Broken Arrow (1950) Blood Simple (1984)
The Wild Bunch (1969) Lonely Are the Brave (1962) The Big Country (1958) Posse (1993)
Fort Apache (1948) Last of the Mohicans (1992) Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Cat Ballou (1965)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Little Big Man (1970) The Far Country (1954) Blood on the Moon (1948)
My Darling Clementine (1946) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) Appaloosa (2008) The Way West (1967)
Unforgiven (1992) Hombre (1967) The War Wagon (1967) El Mariachi (1992)
The Tall T (1957) One-Eyed Jacks (1961) The Missing (2003) The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Destry Rides Again (1939) The Naked Spur (1953) El Diablo (1990) Johnny Guitar (1954)
3:10 to Yuma (2007) Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) Ride Lonesome (1959) Tall in the Saddle (1944)
Bend of the River (1952) Quigley Down Under (1990) Open Range (2003) Santa Fe Trail (1940)
The Magnificent Seven (1960) The Gunfighter (1950) Jesse James (1939) The Great Silence (1968)
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) The Mark of Zorro (1920) Riders in the Sky (1949)
Blazing Saddles (1974) The Alamo (2004) Yellow Sky (1948) The Man From Laramie (1955)


217 Responses

    • DaveyJ

      The list of the 100 greatest westerns does not seem to agree with most lists of this same topic. Some examples: The newer True Grit is generally rated higher than the older one. Same for 3:10 to Yuma. Where is Once Upon a Time in the West? Good Bad and the Ugly, some of your choices like El Diablo made me think you were on the right track. I guess this list is just so far to the classic lean. And accuracy of what is authentic…..I have access to records of many details, I was a real cowboy, grew up on a ranch but some of this is obtuse. For certain there has been FAR more gunfights in movies than in the old west. Just one example of a western that I myself liked was Hannie Caulder. Rachel Welch is lovely, Christopher Lee is wonderful as Bailey the gun maker, Robert Culp’s lead role is admirable, and despite the somewhat over the top depiction of three bad guys by Ernest B, Jack Elam, and their brother…..it is a very stylized western. How the West was Won was very influential on my own life and choices for work and my homestead. I have always wondered about selection of GREAT movies like Last of the Mohicans as westerns…..Leather Stocking Country is pretty far East according to my World Atlas!

  1. Erica Weissman

    As none of we mortal people were alive in the era of 1860’s-1900’s which
    many of these films try to recreate( which is really fantasy and fiction
    however noble the time setting and script.

    We have then ,one Western that is a real big ommission
    depending on that fantasy balloon. “Lonesome Cowboys” by Andy
    Warhol from 1968. One may read it’s history on the IMDB website.

  2. Jim Bellaire

    For all the “experts” you folks have in this magazine, it took about five minutes to already find two errors. Movie #48, The Gunfighter, Peck portrays JIMMY Ringo, not Johnny Ringo, and other than the last name, I doubt that his part had anything to do with the real Johnny’s history. #11, Winchester 73, sidebar on p.46, Winchester’s Wonder: the standard length barrel on a 73 was 24 inches, and it held 14 rounds in the magazine. 30″ was a special order (1 in 600 had longer than standard barrel, Madis, p.195, The Winchester Book) and would have held 17 rounds in the magazine tube. If a round was placed in the chamber of the barrel, one more round would be added to the total count. I would have placed The Stalking Moon, Gregory Peck, 1968, and Death Hunt, Charles Bronson, 1981 in the Top 100.

  3. Mandy

    Apart from the indefisible contention that “High Noon” and “The Ox-Bow Incident” are the best westerns (you guys smoking sagrbrush?), in “Rio Bravo,” Ricky Nelsom does NOT portray a “cattle driver”; it is explicitly stated that he is Ward Bond’s bodyguard. In “Blazing Saddles,” Mel Brooks’ Indiana correct says, “Dey darker than us!” — Not “Dey darker den we are,” and Madeleine Kahn’s line comes BEFORE she seduces Cleavon Little, not after.

  4. Blair

    There’s another version of 3:10 To Yuma. Have you forgotten the 1957
    original? What about Silverado, Lust in the Dust, and Pale Rider? Pale
    Rider. a title taken from the Book of Eevelaton, was the movie Clint Eastwood made seven years before Unforgiven. It marked the return of
    The Man With No Name.

  5. Dlach

    How could you leave off “Shane” or the “Sons of Katie Elder”. I did not see Pale Rider (Clint Eastwood) and McClintock (Jon Wayne) or Cheyenne Social Club.

  6. Erica Weissman

    To the person that said Shane was not listed ,it is ri dere on the left of
    der list.
    Usually history is one person’s opinion,so don’t get to upset.

    • Anon

      I just watched Shane due to it being on this list…what a terrible movie. The plot progresses at a snails pace…the romance between Shane and the wife couldn’t have been more boring (see The Quick and the Dead to see this done correctly). Also, the wife/mother and the kid had 2 of THE most ANNOYING voices in movies, period. Nagging and whining throughout the whole movie.

      The fight scenes were pretty good, although the one where the cattle and horses were jumping over fences to get away from 2 men fighting was a little ridiculous. The “bad guy” in the movie was actually very reasonable lol.

      I honestly tried really hard to make it thru the whole movie, but I just couldn’t. This movie dragged on and on and on…what a nightmare. I am sorry I watched it, as I really can’t remember one good thing about it 24 hours later. Sorry Shane fans….

      • Django

        Shane fans around the globe are devastated by your scathing review, Anon.

      • Clint Easywood

        Jack Palance is one of the classic bad guys of all time…. Though the movie could have been cast better…. too much whining… and Alan Ladd is a little short for a western hero… maybe this was done intentionally to make the hero seem more of an underdog… Anyway though it is probably rated too highly but definitely belongs on any top 100 list.

      • Paul Herring

        Yes, agree with much of what you’ve said. I don’t know how Shane got on the list or is so widely accepted as one of the Western greats. Certainly agree with Brandon De Wilde’s voice. He was one of the most annoying kids I’ve ever seen in films. If I were Shane I’d have moved on only minutes after meeting him!

      • gila monster

        You are right. The kid and mother were too annoying. Also, the kid sounds like a damn baby,

      • Franki

        Apparently you do not have either a heart or a brain!!!!!!!!!!

      • Mike

        Anybody that liked ..The Quick And The Dead has got no right rating great westerns like Shane. That’s like a crackhead who likes and listens to Beyonce putting down The Beatles or Sinatra. You don’t know anything about great westerns.

  7. Navajo Joe

    What about Navajo Joe w/Burt Reynolds? The score with Ennio Morricone is haunting to say the least. The Last Ride w/Mickey Rourke was good too, althouth it was a remake of the one with Kirk Douglas(which I didn’t know).

    The new 3:10 to Yuma shouldn’t have been there, nor 2004 The Alamo. Both movies had the actors wearing ugly hats? Which makes for a good western. So uncool not even the actors could pull it off.

    I agree with the others that Pale Rider should have been there too. Also Wyatt Earp w/Keving Costner. Why Dead Man? Nobodys ever heard of the movie, just because it’s made by some artsy old indi director does’t meant it’s good.

  8. Dow Heard

    The biggest omission is “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”.
    The worst movie on the list is the horrible “Johnny Guitar”- painful to watch.
    The best is ” The Searchers”-I thought so even before Spielberg began pushing it; my personal favorites are “The Magnificent Seven ” and “Shane”.

  9. Roger

    “Valdez Is Coming” with Burt Lancaster! I’ve loved that movie since I was a kid and have watched it countless times!

  10. Albe Perry

    Maybe I missed Tombstone from the list but I know a few guys who would list it as their favorite western and even in their top 10 films overall.
    And Silverado may not be the most stucturally dramatic western ever made but it sure is an entertaining ensemble film and was a bit of a groundbreaker at the time when the western was always linear in its storytelling.
    Bye the bye, is Lonesome Dove excluded because it was a made for TV mini series?

  11. Dave

    Recently bought a copy of “100 Greatest Westerns”.Great job! While I don’t necessarily agree with your rankings ( I would have put Shane at the top of the list and High Noon 2nd)I certainly applaud your list .Now comes my question as to why a couple of films weren’t included. How about the 1970 sleeper “Monte Walsh”? Or what about one of the truly great ones “The Missouri Breaks”. The ensemble cast of Nicholson,Brando,Quaid,et.al were outstanding! In my humble opinion,of course.

  12. Scott Seely

    John Ford’s excellent retelling of the 3 Wise Men tale was a classic that should never be forgotten. “3 Godfathers” with John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz and Harry Carey, Jr. This is one film that should never be forgotten. Definately at the top of my 100 list.

  13. Larry S.

    Can’t beleive that none of you mentioned “The Terror of Tiny Town.”

  14. Larry S.

    Also ,what about “The Wild River?” “Last of the Mohicans” was set in New York, not west of the Mississippi River. “Bad Day at Black Rock ” was set in the west, but the time was around 1950, not 1850. “The treasure of the Sierra Madre” was set in Mexico during the 1930’s.

  15. John S

    Good Job! only addition I have is The Wild Bunch with cast that includes William Holden. One of my top ten westerns.

  16. Joe Ferrier

    Gents, your “100 Greatest Westerns” obviously missed two of the best – “The Culpepper Cattle Company” (Billy “Green” Bush) and “Monte Walsh” (Lee Marvin) – with numerous great character actors, such as Bo Hopkins, Jack Palance (playing a good guy), Matt Clark, Luke Askew, and others. Still, you named three of my top favorites – “The Wild Bunch” and “The Professionals” and “Jeremiah Johnson” – so you weren’t too far shy of the mark. However, some of your other picks (titles withheld) were nowhere near “great” westerns. Anway, I enjoyed the hell out of your magazine! A “great” publication, chock full of interesting asides, and well worth the asking price. I’d rate it A- overall.

  17. Robert Fleming

    Though I was pleased with the majority of your picks I have 12 movies that should be included. There were at least a dozen that could have been replaced. I would like list them in what I feel is in order of importance. 1) WYATT EARP: I know this movie was not critically acclaimed, however I feel it was as close to being historiclally correct as possible. Dennis Quaids amazing portrayal of Doc Holliday is oscar worthy. 2)THE LONG RIDERS: Though Hollywood took some liberties with the story, its still the most accurate account of the James-Younger gang. Also, it has brothers playing brothers which has never been done before which added a sense of warmth & reality.
    3)THE GREY FOX: A classic! Richard Farnsworths portrayal of an ex-con trying to deal with a turn of the century world after 30 years in prison is real & heartfelt. Also, his character was one of the first stagecoach robbers in North America & is credited with coining the phrase “hands up!’ The scene where Farnsworth checks out the latest handguns in a local gunshop is priceless.
    4)PALE RIDER: The showdown is worth the price of a ticket alone. Clint Eastwood changing cylinders on his cap & ball revolvers is
    something you dont see everyday.
    5)TOM HORN: One of Steve McQueens last films and it is more than worth mentioning. Great story!
    6)GOING SOUTH: A western with just enough comedy without going over the top with- plenty of realism. With a cast that has Jack Nicholson, Christopher Loydd, John Belushi & Mary Steenburgen in her breakout role, how can you go wrong?
    7)MISSOURI BREAKS: Marlon Brando & Jack Nicholson (this guy should do more westerns) enough said! 8&9)HILDAGO & IN PURSUIT OF HONOR: I group these two movies together because they center around the one thing all westerns have in common,the horse! Both these movies center on the love & respect the characters have for their horses. Both stories are based on actual events.
    10)SILVERADO:Old fashioned type western with a modern touch. light hearted, a little over the top but serious enough to make it a good western.
    11&12):BIG JAKE & THE COWBOYS;Two of the Dukes best. Honorable mentions at the very least. Point of interest: between takes, John Wayne told Bruce Dern that he will be the most hated man in America when the movie is released because Bruce Derns character kills Waynes character.

  18. Dustin Gray

    Uhhhhh, Where Is the Greatest Western of all LONESOME DOVE. Your list while ok – Some of those you have got to be kidding. For you not Putting Lonesome Dove on there i will DisRegard your list!

    • Joe

      no kidding
      i only saw a few good movies on there
      where is lonesome dove?
      some of those movies are nothing compared to that!

      • Ripper

        “Lonesome Dove” is probably my favorite all time western series. I guess they consider it under TV mini series. I also recommend the other great westerns by Larry McMurtry which addressed the same characters. ” Dead Man’s Walk “, “The Streets Of Laredo” and ” Return to Lonesome Dove”. A must see for all “Lonesome Dove” fans.

  19. Upchucked

    Who picked these 100? I suspect it was a group of teenagers whose only experience with the true western is a video game.

    100 BEST? Ruggles of Red Gap? Laurel and Hardy? The Paleface?

    Give me a break! If this is the best you can do, why bother!

  20. Tuxer

    Dustin, “Lonesome Dove” is wonderful, but it does not qualify for this list on the most basic of criteria: It’s not a movie.

    It is not an injustice to leave a television production off a list dedicated to movies — even a fantastic television production that did a far better job than a two- or three-hour theatrical movie could ever have done.

  21. Vic

    what about “She wore a yellow ribbon” it must be the best ever made ?

  22. Vance McLaughlin

    Since I am forced to choose: The Searchers would be #1. Shane, High Noon, and Ride the High Country are in the running. I realize that Lonesome Dove was a mini-series but when viewed as one long movie it was exceptional.

  23. Ken Johnson

    What a farce of a list!

    Blood Simple a western? Bad Day At Black Rock a western? Blazing Saddles a western? El Mariachi? You could include Yojimbo with this broad a standard for westerns.

    As mentioned above … where’s Silverado? Pale Rider?

    Where is one of my favorites “The Violent Men” with Glenn Ford, Edward G. Robinson, & Barbara Stanwyck. Based on a story by Donald Hamilton of Matt Helm fame.

    What about “Red Sun”?

    All in all, this is a very lame list.

  24. andrew svaglic

    100 greatest westerns book was a waste of my money.The book stinks.

  25. Jose Evangelista

    I think you missed the following in your list:
    THE IRON MISTRESS (Starring Alan Ladd); VIVA ZAPATA (Marlon Brando); THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (Glen Ford), and VERA CRUZ (Cooper & Lancaster).

  26. Guy McCullough

    1) Shane
    2) The Fastest Gun Alive
    4)High Noon
    5)The Magnificient Seven

    InTHE FASTEST GUN ALIVE Glen Ford must hide his true identity to keep from having to proof it. Everyone in town except his wife thinks he is just a shopkeeper. After his cover is blown he must confront a menacing Broderick Crawford in the movie’s climatic showdown–Guy

  27. Susan Solomon

    The old “3:10 to Yuma” beats the new one any day. “The Hanging Tree” is a great western.

  28. Vince

    “Quigley Down Under” ’90 is a movie about the Aussie West, not the US West. “Drums Along the Mohawk” ’39 is missing! “Last of the Mohicans” is on! Western New York was the West in 1758-78. No “Hang Em’ High” another great Eastwood film. North-West Passage” film of the Rodgers Rangers raid, Spencer Tracy, Robert Young. Again that was the West in 1758.

  29. Vince

    “Quigley Down Under” ’90 is a movie about the Aussie West, not the US West. “Drums Along the Mohawk” ’39 is missing! “Last of the Mohicans” is on! Western New York was the West in 1758-78. ” North-West Passage” film of the Rodgers Rangers raid, Spencer Tracy, Robert Young. Again that was the West in 1758.

  30. Mary Donnelly

    “The Big Country” 1958

    This film showed the prejudices and attitudes of the Old West , which eventually led to dealing with facts as they are, not as society would like them to be. The hero adapted to living on shore in a practical way as the film depicted the useful connection between being a master mariner and a successful westerner, something which is often shown in reverse in real life when people from the prairies enlist in the navy.

    • Bruce

      Finally Mary a person who knows a top Western, I think it won the oscar for It’s musical arangement. This one is up there with Duel in the sun. Some of the movies on the list really crack me up. I just can’t believe The Good Bad and the Ugly is high on many of the lists. I thought that the ending of Eastwoods oscar winning The Unforgiven was a joke. I don’t think any of the modern stuff beats the Golden era.

  31. Johnny Matheis

    Good list, but the greatest Westerns, hands down are:
    1. Union Pacific-definitive Western
    2. Hombre-definitive anti hero
    3. Ride the High Country-unquestionably the greatest gunfight scene ever
    4. Fort Apache-though not named Custer, he is portrayed the most realistically of all the movies, an epic movie
    5. The Commancheros-the supporting characters make this movie, McBane, Gordo, and especially Esteban
    6. Big Jake-just loads of fun
    7. Rio Lobo-okay, a heterosexual male must see for the hottest group of women ever in any Western
    8. The Quick and the Dead-scream “cult classic” with the great characters and avant garde surrealism, not to mention Hackman’s over the top character, a parody of over half of the villains in modern films
    9. The Bravados-the film sets you up perfectly as you cheer Peck along against this all star cast of outlaws
    10.The Searchers-the characters and directing are superb. Great feel to this movie
    11. Gunman’s Walk-the true villain is the character who evokes sympathy, Heflin. Great story of how hatred is passed along
    12. The Last Hunt-the best portrayal of heroism and sadism, very realistic characters in great adventure

  32. Vic Asadourian

    What about “The Man
    That Shot Liberty Valance”, and the “Quick and the Dead” ?

  33. john

    Tombstone, yes! Loved the way it kicked Costner’s butt. Kilmer as Doc Holliday? Never been done better….I’d say Kurt Russell had figured out that the perfect western has no pretensions to accurate historical record…rather, like Samurai movies, it celebrates and reinforces the classic myth. Otherwise, big fan of The Outlaw Josey Wales and still chuckling over that “Endeavor to persevere” line….

  34. James Davenport

    This list is incomplete and lacks credibility without:

    She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949)
    The Horse Soldiers (1959)
    The Alamo (John Wayne’s superb 1960 version)
    3:10 to Yuma (1957: Van Heflin)
    Northwest Mounted Police (1940, CB DeMille)
    Unconquered (1947; CB DeMille)

    The following movies on the list destroy it:

    Support Your Local Sheriff (a farce)
    Blazing Saddles (a farce)
    The Unforgiven (a rotten move)
    Maverick (BARELY a western, funny but..?)
    The Alamo (2004) WHY on WHY remake a classic
    3:10 to Yuma (2007) Ditto… I threw the DVD away

    Thats my .02 worth


    • Aaron Kreltszheim

      I fully agree James about taking those movies of, I love “Support Your Local Sheriff” great humour writing… but we have so many really great westerns and I fully agree about “John Wayne’s Alamo,

      Maverick (BARELY a western, funny but..?)
      The Alamo (2004) WHY on WHY remake a classic
      3:10 to Yuma (2007) Ditto… I threw the DVD away
      EXACTLY RIGHT!!! They are terrible!
      good on ya James!!!

    • Frank Dombrosky

      Actually, the 2004 Alamo movie is very accurate…if you care about things like that. I do. Especially since I’m a Texan.

    • Prof.Dr. Karl A. Wipf

      The Alamo. The version of 2004 is tediously, the actors are too young and stiff and without fire. Historical accuracy is very good, but when the actors play boring then I prefer the more dramatical story.
      John Wayne’s film is best and most American and patriotic.

  35. john giardina

    Here”s a few that should have made the list !!

    She wore a yellow ribbon
    Union Pacific
    Tribute to a bad man
    310 to Yuma ( 1957 )
    3 Godfathers
    Last train from Gunhill
    The Plainsmen
    The Iron Horse ( silent )
    Sergeant Rutledge

    These are real westerns not some of the comedies or modern
    films that were listed . THE WAY WEST is like the worst pick
    I have ever seen !!

  36. Pat

    The 1957 version of the 3:10 to Yuma is superior to the 2007 version. I would like to read reveiws of 10 good film critics comparing those two movies.

  37. Dreaddy

    Notable omissions: Lawman with Burt Lancaster, The Hunting Party with Gene Hackman, Oliver Reed, Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker with James Coburn, Rod Steiger, My Name is Nobody with Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, They Call Me Trinidy with Terence Hill, Man of/from the East with Terence Hill.

  38. Dreaddy

    Add “the Proposition” , the Australian western.

    • Aaron Kreltszheim

      G’day Dreaddy, I would love to agree with you about “the Proposition” ,being an Aussie, but Westerns classification is West of the Mississippi after the Civil War… then we’d have “The last of the Mohicans” but its not really classified as a western. I wish I could agree, as I like both movies so much. as you are right, they are good films.

  39. Jim Hambleton

    William S. Hart was the the top western star of his time. Tumbleweeds and Hell’s Hinges should both have made the list.

  40. Undertaker

    The Tracker with Kris Kristofferson is one of my picks. Good, enjoyable movie. Wyatt Earp should have been there. I don’t care if it was a tv production, or a miniseries or what you want to call it, but Lonesome Dove is the GREATEST western of all time.

  41. John McMahon

    I ran across the issue of 100 Greatest Westerns in Borders, and like the comparable War Movie issue, really enjoyed it. It is the perfect evening companion to a few good buddies, a bottle of good bourbon, and some fine cigars. Although I think “The Searchers” is the best Western ever, the top 20 choices were worthy, and I really LIKED the oddball choices like comedies and “Dead Man”. I was really glad that the superb “Ride with the Devil” was included. I wonder where the really unique and beautifully filmed “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” would have appeared on the list if anyone had ever seen it? I does not supplant the also missing “Long Riders” as the definitive Jesse James movie, but it comes close. I agree with previous posters that “Missouri Breaks’ and the “Grey Fox” are deserving. Some others for consideration are: “Man Called Horse”, “The Misfits”, “Heartbreak Pass”, Walter Hill’s “Wild Bill Hickok” or even “Matewan” (Hey, it’s set in WEST Virginia and has an incredible gun battle.)

  42. T S Wille

    I may be alone in this opinion, but The Good, Bad, and Ugly gives a more realistic depiction of the darkness of the Civil War than most westerns that portray it. It also was beyond its time in the use of camera angles to create suspence. I could never get tired of watching it…how could you leave it off?

    • Toby

      You are quite correct, to omit The Good the Bad and the Ugly was a crime.
      Sergio Leone made this classic on a budget of $5 million and he made it look like $25 Million ! Together with ,Once upon a time in the West it belongs in the top 20; also Navajo Joe deserves to be on the list.

  43. Jason Boies

    “HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER” not in the top 100?!?
    Also, “Lonesome Dove” is a western and is a movie; the criteria does not specify motion picture over TV. It is certainly a top 10!

  44. dee t.

    In my humble opinion your experts miss read their assignment since thye included in their list comedy movies. I know there was some light and funny moments in the old west. and I like to laugh; but I don’t see how any of the so called comedy movies belong on this list. Comedy movies yes, western no
    I agree with the people who say that if you extend the time frame to include The Last of The Mohicans how can you leave off Rogers Rangers or Drums Along the Mohawk?
    A Man Called Horse. How much more western can you get.
    I agree that She Wore a Yellow Ribbon should be on the list too.

    All in all I think the experts could have done a lot better.

  45. Jason Boies

    Can anyone explain the order in which the movies are listed in the magazine? It isn’t revealed in ascending/descending order or alphabetically. Why are they placed seemingly at random?

  46. Matt Wilson

    Good Lord, what a bunch of whiners!
    Get with the program guys, it’s just a list. Do a google search of ‘Greatest Westerns’ and you’ll find it’s pretty much like most of the other lists.

  47. HankD

    I don’t feel that Blazing Saddles belongs in the top 100.

    Tombstone is my all time favorite, and I think it is because of the part played by Val Kilmer, he stole the lead.

    The newest western Apaloosa also deserves mention.

  48. George McCormick

    Eastwood’s Unforgiven looked like the Old West meets Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s still in my top three: Tombstone, was there ever a more revisionist western? Remember, Tombstone even had an ice cream parlor-1 and The Shootist-all good things must come to an end, Wayne is great. 2. Also, how about The Big Sky-the west didn’t begin and end with cowboys. Also, Windwalker-no white people…gasp.

  49. Revising the Wild West 100 Greatest Westerns « The Official Blog of the Western Literature Association

    […] Revising the Wild West 100 Greatest Westerns January 30, 2009 — Michael K. Johnson The primary benefit of a “best” or “greatest” list is as a conversation starter, and I take Wild West magazine’s recent 100 Greatest Westerns list as just that rather than as something definitive or objective. In the interest of continuing the conversation, I offer my own list of “Top Three Films Missing from Wild West’s 100 Greatest Westerns,” and I invite you to submit your own lists of missing films (or lists of films that shouldn’t be there) either through the comment link at the end of the post or via email to westernlitblog@gmail.com The Wild West top ten is listed in an earlier blog post below, or you can follow this link for the entire Wild West 100 Greatest Westerns list. […]

  50. johnny kline

    maybe one day you’ll be reviewing my movie ” two pistols are faster than one”

  51. AJ Fraser

    Some of the very best Westerns were the ones made by Anthony Mann with James Stewart,Gary Cooper ect,check them out

  52. nicki

    First of all support your local sheriff was a great movie and theres a good thing about opinions ..you give them and don’t be pissy to another person cause you don’t like theres. Paint your wagon was also a good movie. and lighting jack …. your list is fine

  53. C. L. Becer

    I can’t say that I’ve seen even half of these movies (so now I have a goal) but I sure am glad that someone still cares about westerns. For my money I think Hondo is the best I’ve seen, or read for that matter.

  54. Bob Cuttance

    What about “The Streets of Laredo”. It explains why western heroes never got off their horses to take a dump.

  55. dave morris

    I concur with another responder above, without a doubt,”Tell them Valdez is coming ” is one of the top ten and perhaps number one! Burt Lancaster really pulls it off, and I’m a cowboy junkie

    • Mourice Houlette

      Yes “Tell them Valdez is coming” is in my top 100 list easily. A lot of the movies they have named you would not want to watch more than once, they are that bad and boring. However Valdez is coming can be watched and watched as it is not dated and the acting and action is superb.

  56. Bll Kay

    The Duke’s best ever, “The Shootist” and what about Brando’s “One-eyed Jacks”?

  57. Willis Knox

    Thanks for remembering Randolf Scotts movies. I think he was a great cowboy. I believe I believe the Searchers with John Wayne should be the number one movie. I would like to add the following movies in no particular order. Navada Smith , Steve Mcqueen,Breakheart Pass, Death Hunt with Charles Bronson,Lawman and Valdez Is Coming with Burth Lancaster, The Bravados with Gregory Peck. Enjoyed the magazine very much…Keep up the good work…

  58. Monette Bebow-Reinhard

    I agree Silverado should be up there, I never tire of watching it.

    And where’s Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford? Every western review I’ve read agrees that this one is way better and deserving of more attention.

  59. David

    How could you have ignored Lawman and Valdez is Coming. They are so different and yet portray the west so vividly and Burt Lancaster is great. Also I don’t agree with the raves you give Kevin Costner for Dances with Wolves..a good western is about a lot more than just scenery and being politically correct, get real, he wouldn’t have survived 2 minutes in the real west.

  60. ken miller

    Glen Ford’s The last Challange or The Fastest Gun Alive.

  61. Dorothy

    Blood Simple (1984) This is Film Noir at its best and is about as far from a Western Movie as you can get. Comes under the caregory of, “What were they thinking?”

  62. Richard

    Well folks doing resarch is a very hard job for anyone, We all make mistakes I think by offering support is the way to go. I’m happy to see that so many resply with info.Keeep up the good work. I like to ad Crossfire Trail,Last of the Dogmen, Johnson County War,Australia how about Sam Elliott Western Collection. If anyone has info on Old Western Towns, How they were build would be of great help.

  63. Bill C

    My ten favourites on the list are, (in order):

    The Tall T
    The Paleface
    Blood Simple
    Ride With the Devil (cruelly under-rated)
    Will Penny
    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance
    Treasure of the Sierra madre
    Ox-Bow Incident

  64. Willie Holmes

    POSSE as one of the 100 greatest westerns of all-time? you might as well add THE TERROR OF TINYTOWN and JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER (and yes, that IS a real movie!). If you wanted to put in a black western, you should have put in BUCK AND THE PREACHER (1973). Directed by Sidney Poitier (his debut), he also stars as Buck, a wagonmaster who is trying to lead a wagon train of former slaves to new land out west. However, the wagon train is constantly being attacked by a group of racist bushwackers (led by Cameron Mitchell). In an attempt to elude his pursuers, Buck switches horses with the Preacher (Harry Belafonte, made up to look less than his handsome self). As the title suggests, Buck and the Preacher join forces to bring down the bushwackers. This culminates in a tense shootout in the mountains. A really cool scene has the Preacher throwing some of the bushwackers off guard to allow Buck to blast some of them away with a pair of sawed-off shotguns. Honorable mention should also go to:

    3:10 TO YUMA (1957)
    CURSE OF THE UNDEAD (Vampire gunfighter helps rancher’s daughter save the farm. If not great, it is interesting)
    EL DORADO (Quasi-remake of RIO BRAVO that is slightly better than the original)
    OBLIVION (Sci-fi western)
    BLIND JUSTICE (Armand Assante in an American spaghetti western)

    I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting.

  65. bhayes

    The ten best westerns ever made

    1)My Darling Clemintine 1946
    2)Wagonmaster 1950
    3)Stagecoach 1939
    4)Shane 1953
    5)The Covered Wagon 1923
    6)The Westerner 1940
    7)TheThree Godfathers 1948
    8)Ramrod 1947
    9)Billy The Kid 1930
    10)any Bud Boetticher,Ride Lonesome,Comanche Station ,Tall T
    Honorable mention- Yellow Sky 1948,Four Faces West 1948,
    Blood on the Moon, 1948,Coroner Creek 1948.What a Year.

  66. Tom Van Weiber


    In “Sixguns” by Keith, he shows a picture of John Wayne holding an engraved pair of Great Western .45 cal S.A. s . (Page 66)
    Used in the movie “The Shootist” were a pair of engraved Great Western .45 cal S.A..s , seen later in a wood display case in an article about John Wayne.

    Maybe his personal guns used in the movie

  67. Bill

    Tombstone was not so much of a revisionist movie. Most of it was factual, from the Cowboys with their red sashes to the gunfight at the OK Corral. The only theatrical license that was used was when the movie portrayed Doc Holliday as the killer of Johnny Ringo; that was theatrical license. However, no one actually knows how Ringo died. He was just found shot to death one day. There are a number of theories as to how he died. The most prevalent is that he committed suicide . . . but one of the theories, although unlikely, is that Doc Holliday killed him.

  68. Mardy

    Is there an older western movie, prior to ” The long riders”. That has similar dialogue, “because you’re a whore”, or am I thinking of the same movie?

    woman: do you think the town respects me?
    man: no!
    woman: why not?
    man: because youre a whore!
    woman: do you respect me?
    man: no.
    woman: why not?
    man: because youre a whore!

  69. Aaron Kreltszheim

    I agree with most of these coments, soem of those western shouldn’t be spoken about, let alone written down, 310 to Yuma (2007) what was this person thinking. The Alamo 2004, Hell Wayne’s Alamo is awesome, still to this day bringing money on DVD sales.

    Support Your Local Sheriff (Is the only one out of this bad list of films added, because it is fun to watch)
    Blazing Saddles (It’s funny, but again, catch sit through it again and again, like traditional westerns.)
    The Unforgiven (watched that once)
    Maverick (watche dit once was enough)
    The Alamo (2004) WHY in deed!
    3:10 to Yuma (2007) not even close to being a western
    Who made this list, did they just open a book and pick out a 100 westerns, unseen and unknown??

    MY favorite top ten.

    RIO BRAVO (1959)
    Tombstone (1993)
    Gunfight at OK Corral (1957)
    The Shootist (1976)
    Unconquered (1947)
    The Alamo (1960)
    Open Range (2003) (one of the best gunfight scenes)
    Ride Lonesome (1959)
    The Unforgiven (1960)
    Pony Express (1953) Charlton Heston Forrest tucker, (May be a B Western, but it’s a great film.

  70. Aaron Kreltszheim

    Also one forgotten, is a great film “Angel and the Badman” (1947)
    John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey Sr, Steve Cabot

  71. Barry

    The fact that Lawman with Burt Lancaster, is not on the list makes me wonder if any of you really know what a great western is.

    How could anybody say The Outlaw Josey Wales was not a great western?

    Open Range was not a good western.

    Lonesome Dove should be in the top 20

    Tombstone definitely top 20

    Ulzana’s Raid definitely top 20

    Quigley Down Under definitely top 20

    Major Dundee Top 20

    The Professionals top 20

  72. Sil

    i search the name of a movie. that i’ve seen years ago.
    the only thing I remember: it was a western. and the father of a kid was in prison, and because there was a fire the kid must shoot his own father dead.
    can anyone help me?

    greetings Sil ( The Netherlands)

  73. Cliff Hitchcock

    The Bravados (1958) with Gregory Peck and Joan Collins should make the list. It is not the best but should be in the middle of the pack and certainly before some of these “new” western movies. Judges take a look.

  74. david schaffner

    Enjoyed your 100 great westerns but you sure missed the mark on quite a few of them.Blazing Saddles?Y ou got to be kidding.What about 1947’s “Ramrod” and 1948’s “Four faces west”.Culpepper cattle company and Monte Walsh with Lee Marvin.Man of the west with Gary Cooper was far superior to “High noon”Is “High Noon’ a poliitical move.Surely doesn’t deserve to be number one.John Waynes “Rio Grande” and “She wore a yellow ribbon”,”Three Godfathers” and 1942’s “The spoilers” and “In old olkahoma” with Albert Dekker and so many old charactor actors.Although it was a tv mini-series “Lonesome dove” is my top pick along with “Pale rider”You writers don’t belong in the same page with the films I mentioned.Sorry.

  75. Western Towns

    I could use some help here. We plan on bulding a Wesetrn Town wih 44 buildings. What I’m looking for , The size & how they were build, color. I would like to work with some of the Western Movie Production folks who all ready worked on some. this will be a town that folks can live in year around. If you know where I can get in touch with someone, Then I would like to hear from you.


    • Aaron Kreltszheim

      80 western towns – G’day Richard, are you still in search of these towns and pictures, where are you building it? aaronarkfilms@gmail.com – ARK Film Productions – we are bringing back the family westerns of the 1950ties – but wiht historical basis. (Howard hawks, John Ford) . . Now a question hasn’t been asked, a Western to the truth is actually west of the Mississippi after the Civil War.. so I know Quigley down under, is certainly west of the mississippi and East, South and North, since it was filmed in Australia. But how far west? huh! We hope to have another Western out this year. finished filming “The Innocent” low budget.

  76. Dearg Doom

    Shane – am I the only person on the planet who believes Shane to be just an ok ‘good-guy-versus-bad-guy’ movie? Alan Ladd annoys me – he’s one of the most wooden, expressionless actors ever. IMHO, not a great or ‘classic’ film. But I DO like the part where he falls off his mount at the end – pity it wasn’t having a sneaky horsey-poo at the time ! AVERAGE.

    Rio Bravo – utter, utter, utter, utter drivel – as is ANY film with Angie Dickinson. AVOID !

    El Dorado – now you’re talkin’. Very, very watchable, time and time again – not least because Charlene Holt (Maudie) was simply babe-a-licious! And no pointless singing either, thank-you-very-much.
    Great cast, great script, great acting, GREAT FILM.

    Tombstone – SUPERB ! One of the more accurate portrayals of the Earp/K Corral shootout (note it’s NOT totally accurate by any means – for example the Holliday/Ringo showdown DIDN’T actually happen).
    Having said that, Val Kilmer (Doc Holliday – “I’m your huckleberry”) out-acted everyone, much like Alan Rickman in ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’. BRILLIANT !

    Quigley Down Under – one of the very best westerns (set in Australia) -featuring Tom Selleck & Alan Rickman – check it out if you haven’t already. Included In my ‘Top Five Best Westerns’ list.

    Pale Rider – simply a remake of ‘High Plains Drifter’, which was a much, much better film OK movie but HPD is worth viewing instead.

    High Plains Drifter – the Bridges gang using them there whips – OUCH ! The Jim Duncan supernatural element added greatly to the movie. Watch it again, THEN tell me Pale Rider is ‘better’ !

    How many remember ALIAS SMITH AND JONES (the 1970’s series)? Let’s not forget how good the (pilot) movie actually is. Great series (with only one dreadful episode – season 2 “Journey from San Juan” – truely awful). The rest ranged (no pun intended) from good to excellent.

    Blazing Saddles – bear in mind it’s a pretty decent western, as well as being an acceptable musical and a TERRIFIC comedy (up there with ‘Life of Brian’ as one of the best comedies ever).

    A Gunfight – Johnny Cash and Kirk Douglas. I reckon one of the best, yet most under-rated westerns ever. As with ‘High Noon’, the action is kept ’till the end. Watch it all the way through !

    Lawman – Burt Lancaster – an original ‘how-far-can-the-Law-go’ premise. Very highy recommended.

    There’s also a bunch of B-westerns well worth viewing – example – ‘Dead for a Dollar’ (John Ireland) – no major stars, dodgy camerawork, nonsense script(s), no real budget BUT all these elements made them more authentic, in certain ways, than the biggies. ENJOY !

  77. Pat Robinson

    Peter Fonda’s 1971 THE HIRED HAND is to my mind one of the most underated westerns ever made. Warren Oats is outstanding in it.

    • paghat the ratgirl

      Loved that film, though it never turns up on “best movie western” lists.



  79. John Booth

    Gents (and ladies)


    OK, is was somewhat fictionalized BUT based on a real man and portrayed by Paul Newman superbly.

  80. John Booth

    Hey Dearg Doom:
    Just a little FYI – The line in Tombstone was actually “I’m Your Huckle-Bearer” in reference to the “Huckles on a casket you carry them with. Thought you might get a kick out of that.

  81. Lance Manning

    Without doubt you have a fine list and you did list the one movie I tohught and will be forever for me the Best Movie of ALL TIME which was Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West”…great actors, great screenplay, extra great plot, and an OUTSTANDING SOUNDTRACK…the soundtrack blended in beautifully with each of the characters. The film was also able to depict how all races including Blacks, Asian, Irish, Italian, Native Americans, and others played their important role in expanding the West via the building of the train network. And most of all Mr, Henry Fond with his beautiful pale blue eyes as the meant and heartless heavy! Hats off to one of the greatest director’s of all time. And I need not even mention what he did to “Once Upon a Time in America” which was also a fantastic movie, very much ahead of others! If you have not seen one or both of these movies you are missing out on what good movies are all about.

    Mr. L.E. Manning

  82. William Bodle

    I’m looking for a movie titled ” Utah Blaine” starring Rory Calhoun
    from a book by Louis L’Amour. I wou;ld like to buy it in either VHS
    tape or in DVD

  83. billy sea

    how about hombre? great story and supurb performaces by many well known actors stomps butch and sundance and many other of your “best” in so many facets -get REAL!!!!

  84. Joe Rock

    Lots of good ones on this list. And good ones by all of the posters… a lot I never knew of… But my favorite has to be Lee Van Cleef… man was he cool. Bad Ass. And Jason Robards. Wow. He was friggin… scary back then, sooo cool as well. Some of my favorites are definitely:

    They Call Me Trinity (71)
    Death Rides A Horse (67)
    A Day of Anger (67) guilty pleas.-great balance of B movie n badass
    Once Upon A Time In The West (68)
    The Proposition (2005) Favorite modern western.
    Hour of the Gun (67)
    The Big Gundown (66)

    What do you think?

  85. Vas G

    The tin star
    Gunsmoke (1953, Audie Murphy)
    The Bounty hunter (1954, Randolph Scott)
    Yuma (1971, Clint Walker)
    The Big Country
    The War Wagon
    The Bravados
    The Gunfighter
    High Noon
    Red river
    3:10 to Yuma (1957)
    MInessota Clay

  86. Mike Mullikin

    A philosophical point—I have the same problem with “Dances With Wolves” that I have with “Avatar;” any movie where the audience is encouraged to cheer while the US forces are slaughtered with the aid of a turncoat is despicable.

    • Mourice Houlette

      Mike you should probably watch “Little Big Man” in order to bone up on your history. Or even better and more to the point watch”Bury my heart at wounded knee”. The US forces were the bad guys! Using cannons, repeating rifles, small pox infested blankets, encouraging the shooting of all the buffalo, shooting women and children and not honoring even one treaty signed with the natives. Dances with Wolves is a movie that shows Native Americans as human beings just wanting to raise their families and live their lives. We white folk with our enforcers the Army were the protaganists. Hell yes I cheered!!!

      • Archer the Placer Miner

        Yes, manifest destiny can be very hard on those that weren’t of European origin here in the U.S. Never the less, I am enjoying the new invasion of Latinos that are coming back to this land that we claimed. It’s a good opportunity to study Spanish and to figure out how to take advantage of these new cultures. Yee Haw!


    ?????,??????!?????? ???????????? ??????? ??? ?????????? “???????? ??????? ” ?? ???????????? ?????? ????? ???-??????.??????? ? ???????? ?????,? ?????? – ???????????.? .??????? ??? ?????? ????? ?? ????? ???????.??? ??????????? ????? ???????? ??????.????????,??? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ?????????? ?? ?????? ??? ??????? ? ?????????? ? ????????? ??????? ????????? ? ???????? 19 ???? ? ????? ??????????? ??????? LON?SAME DOVE ? ???????????? ? ???????? ?? ????? ??????? ????? ??? ??-???????: ? ???????? ? ??????.By the way,????????? ??? ??????? ?????? ” The White Sun of The Desert”(????? ?????? ???????”)???? ????!??? JULY LAPIDAS.JUNE 13,2010.

  88. Matt Temp


    I am looking for a western movie. All I can remember is that @ the end of the movie there is a group of people trying to get on a train that is coming towards them. They have the tracks covered in grass and everyone gets on the train except 1 character who runs across the field they are near to catch the train as it rolls on the tracks that arch around the field. the last characters is running across the field to cut off the train to get on it with the rest of his group.

    can you help me find the name of this movie? i thought it had charles bronson, mebbe not. tempmatt@hotmail.com THANK YOU!

    • Archer the Placer Miner

      The movie is called 3:10 to Yuma dang nabbit! An don’ yer fergit it!

  89. Mourice

    The following is a list of my top 20 westerns. These are the twenty westerns that I would watch first, they are also westerns you can watch over and over again without getting tired of them. They are in order from best to #20 all time best.
    1. Tombstone
    2. Dances with Wolves
    3. The Outlaw Josie Wales
    4. Have gun will travel(Palidan)
    5. Lonesome Dove
    6. Chato’s Land
    7. Ulzana’s Raid
    8. Little Big Man
    9. A man called horse
    10.Man in the Wilderness
    11. The Stalking Moon
    12. 310 from Yuma(new one)
    13. Open Range
    14. The Unforgiven(Clint Eastwood)
    15. The Shootist
    16. Hombre
    17. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    18. One Eyed Jacks
    19. True Grit
    20. The Missouri Breaks

    Most of the older westerns are dated and just plain boring! I recently watched the Searchers for the 6th time and found it to be just average not great(very dated).

    • gradientblue

      I disagree with you Mourice, about The Searchers. Classics are always a bit dated, but pop culture doesn’t define anything that is a classic until the pop culture represented defines an era or style. The Searchers comes from a time when its racism and sexism were not integrated into main stream movies, and John Wayne almost always took the high road in his character’s personal relationships. It spans many years and includes love, loss, and and family in a way that many westerns can’t even touch. You’ve got some very good and interesting picks, however.

      • Mourice Houlette

        The first movie I ever watch and also the first western was called One Eyed Jacks with Marlon Brando. It has lost nothing over the years. My son and I watched it back when he was in his teens and he thought it was great. Thats why it’s on my list. As a young lad when I first saw the Searchers I thought it was fantastic, but it has aged badly. Dialogue is senseless and the racism and sexism is on display and takes away from the movie. Even John Wayne can’t save it. I’m a huge John Wayne fan and his movies like Big Jake, True Grit and the War Wagon are movies that never age and are hugely entertaining.

  90. dan

    i think they are all good movies ,i can not pick any as the best , one movie i will not watch is the new 3.10- to yuma and i think support your local sheriff is great and funny and no one really fets hurt .

  91. Bud

    Lonesome Dove, Red River, The Angle and the Badman, three of the best western ever made.

    • Dom

      the angel and the badman should not repeat shoyld not be in there

  92. Kathy McIntyre

    Lonesome Dove !! hands down . and it wasn’t even on the list. after that, Dances with wolves.

  93. Debbie Johnson

    Should have:

    original 3:10 to Yuma
    The Violent Men
    The Cowboy (Glen Ford/Jack Lemon)
    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
    Missouri Breaks
    (Forgive me if one of those were listed-I might have missed it!)

    Should not be on list:

    Blazing Saddles (very funny entertaining but not what I think should be on this particular best westerns list)
    Support Your Local Sheriff (absolutely enjoyed this movie, but again not one for this list)

  94. Randy

    “Night Passage” (1957)
    “Joe Kidd” (1972)
    “Shenandoah” (1965)

    These should be on the list. While “Shenandoah” doesn’t take place in the “west” it is nonetheless a “western” in spirit and era. While some of the movies listed are certainly good and entertaining, I do not believe they belong on this list. Movies such as “Blazing Saddles”, “Paleface”, and “Support Your Local Sherriff” are either farcical or comedies and are not true westerns. Also, enough of the putting down of Kevin Costner. He’s made some mistakes and a few stinkers, but he’s also not afraid to take a chance. He has made some of the best movies in the past 25 years (hey, add “Silverado” to the list above to) including “Dances With Wolves” and “Open Range”. Nobody, including myself, on this site could begin to accomplish what he has in his film career, so shut up about him. If you just don’t like him, then OK. But, give the man credit for some pretty darn good work.

  95. GDB

    Must have Pale Rider and My Name is Nobody on the list.

    • Mourice Houlette

      Both of these are spagetti westerns. They should not be included. Spagetti westerns lack reality. You know the hero is not even gonna get a scratch. Their so predictable. Hang em High is not a spagetti western but the Good the Bad and the Ugly is. Spagetti westerns are entertaining at best but are hardly great movies.

  96. Dick Byam

    My favorite western is Soldier Blue. Atrue inactment of what happened to peaceful indians.
    As for Shane and High Noon, very boring. Nothing happens until the end of the movie.
    Those spaghetti westerns were all forgetable.
    Love Clint but not in those movies.

    • Mourice Houlette

      I totally agree with you. Spagetti Westerns are for the most part boing and predictable. Their entertaining and fun but I would not call them great westerns.

  97. CRMT

    Neither ‘The Shooting’ nor ‘El Topo’ is on this list?? Very interesting…

  98. Nate

    1. Searchers
    2. Rio Bravo
    3. Tombstone
    4. True Grit… The remake is ok
    5. El Dorado
    6. Magnificent seven
    7. Shootist
    8. Hondo
    9. Wild bunch
    10. 3:10 to Yuma NOT the remake
    And the Villain with Arny and Douglas lol

  99. Ron

    I can’t believe that ” Nevada Smith ” with Steve McQueen didn,t make any lists even if it is for the last seen with what he does and says to Karl Maldon. The rest of the film is also fabulous [ in my opinion ]. A couple of my favourites on the list are “The Wild Bunch” and “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and I do agree with reply from Dreaddy the Australian film “The Proposition” was worth watching I have seen some of the places depicted in this movie.

  100. Dom

    These are the movies i think should be in the top 100 westerns
    1.The searchers
    2.the man who shot liberty valance
    3.winchester 73
    5.the man from laramie
    6.my darling clementine
    7.fort apache
    8.rio bravo
    8.she wore a yeloow ribbion
    10.the shootist
    12.flaming star
    13.will penny
    14.vera cruz
    15.The westerner
    16.high noon
    17.the magnificent seven
    19.the unforgiven
    20.the tin star

  101. Sagebrush Jim

    Except for number 72 Open Range and number 76 Will Penny, both of these best represent the real west, the rest are just dime novel movies.

    The John Ford westerns are laughable as is Shane, try watching them without laughing, the Duke hits a guy in the face,and says howdy. The top five should be: Open Range, Will Penny, The Wild Bunch, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Professionals, and Ride with the Devil.


  102. Lyle C

    One movie i feel that has merrit ” Westward the Woman ” eith Robert Taylor in which he leads a wagontrain of women across the west to find husbands in California.

  103. Drew

    A pretty comprehensive list, but I’m shocked that John Wayne & Bruce Dern in “The Cowboys” is not on this list. It’s in my top 5 of all time.

    • Mourice Houlette

      Yes the Cowboys is one of John Wayne’s best westerns. It’s is not dated even 40 years later. It is in my top 100 list. The dialogue is excellent!!!

  104. Dave L

    I would have to add a few. The cowboys, Young Guns, The Long riders and my favorite Joh Wayne movie Cahill US. marshall

    • Mourice Houlette

      Young Guns is in my top 100 list. Fantastic western. Not a boring moment. Great acting, great dialogue.

  105. rogerjenkins

    Big Jake,El Dorado. There are 3 more that I cant think of.

  106. Tom Settles

    Half of the movies on this list wouldn’t be in my top 100. Here’s a few Randolph Scott movies that should be on the list:

    Any western with Jimmy Stewart as lead is LOUSY. “Naked Spur” is lousy.
    Any western with Kevin Costner is LOUSY.
    Any western with Charlton Heston is BORING.
    RIO LOBO is Wayne’s worst movie.

    Any western made after 1980, with the exception of TOMBSTONE, shouldn’t be on the list.

    For my money, TRUE GRIT, RIO BRAVO, SHOOTOUT AT OK CORRAL, JESSE JAMES, JOE KIDD, SEVEN MEN FROM NOW would all compete to be the #1 Western of all time.

    • Mourice Houlette

      Silverado Lousy? Kevin Costner was in it! Dances with Wolves Lousy? Kevin Costner was in it. Open Range Lousy? Kevin Costner was in it! All three of these movies are in my top 100 list. Dances with Wolves should be number 1 or 2 along with Tombstone.

  107. P.T. Lovejoy

    Like it or not, here’s my top six westerns

    1.Shane–All about being a man! (Get that Joey)?
    2.High Noon–Courage. Coop’s hard to beat. Win and leave Town.
    3.Hombre–Newman’s hard to beat. Jerry S. is proud of him.
    4.Bad Day at Black Rock–Tremendous cast and great story.
    5.One-Eyed Jacks–Very hard to better Brando.
    6.Quigley Down Under–Good guys win. Lead Lady was so, so.
    7.Open Range–Lots of gun play, somewhat realistic.

    See you all at the next roundup, pilgrim. PTL

  108. PATRICK

    Blood Simple – a great movie – is not a western.
    Blazing Saddles – though set in the old west, is a comedy and not a western.

  109. taariq

    ‘Guns for San Sebastien’ should be on this list, as well as ‘Sons of Katie Elder’.
    And yes, I too agree, ‘Pale Rider’ is a must inclusion. I almost forgot to include, ‘Lonely Are The Brave’.

  110. charlene

    viewers have forgotten about gunsmoke, cheyenne, and the rifleman these are classic westerns and my favorite.

  111. James O. Harris

    How about Cowboy with Glen Ford, and Jack Lemmon playing the part of Frank Harris, a real city slicker who went out West to write about it.

    At least one of you mentioned Vera Cruz, thanks for that.

    Also, no comedies and parodies, please.

    Mr. Wayne made so many rollicking great Westerns, I would include most of them. Maybe, give honorable mention to the black and whites made by Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers, Johnny Mac Brown, Tim Holt, Randolph Scott, William Boyd, and many more who captivated me in my childhood in the Saturday matinees.

  112. Jim Waits

    Everyone’s taste is different. Lots of great films mentioned. Hard for anyone to name their top movies, no matter the number, 10..20..50…
    My favorites: Shane, The Professionals, The Searchers, Hondo, Red River, Stagecoack (39), High Noon, Hombre, The Wild Bunch, and Seargent Rutledge. Talking about new one films not measuring up, what about Crossfire Trail? It’s all about entertainment.

    • Mourice Houlette

      Hi Jim. The difference between being merely entertaining and being a great western is this. A great movie leaves you thinking about it for days. It has great dialogue that you remember and repeat for years. Tombstone: I’m your huckleberry” Hombre: “You ever been hungry, not just ready for supper, you’d eat dog and fight over the bones” True Grit: “That’s bold talk for a one eyed fat man” Tombstone: “Pull that smokewagon and see what happens”. Hombre: “I wonder what hells gonna look like” Great movies have scenes that you want to see over and over again. The scene from the Outlaw Josey Wales where he shoots the rope bringing the ferry and soldiers across the river and Clint Eastwood says “We got what we call the Missouri boat ride”. When your watching the movie for the 1st time or 10th time you don’t want it to end. The scene from the Missouri Breaks where Jack Nicholson cuts Marlon Brando’s throat while he sleeps and says “Guess your wonder what woke you”. Great movies have a sinergy that makes them greater than the some of their various scenes. Great movies are to be discussed and loved and hated. There are tons of entertaining movies most of which we forget 5 minutes after we turn the station.

  113. chris

    good lord-who did this list!

    Waynes best film–The Searchers- to put its paleface stepson the missing on there is to be afraid of its subject and dialogue.

    She wore a yellow ribbbon? another Ford masterpiece

    i wont go into the ones that are on there that shouldnt be- that list is way too long, pardner.

  114. bill mckenzie

    what about a movie you see very seldom it was called GUNDFIGTHERS MOON, there is a very long waiting list to rent this movie. I for one have been waiting almost a year !! Do you know where it can seen.

  115. rick

    the problem with westerns are there are more good than bad and few ugly. were is tom dooly.

  116. don

    john wayne and james stewart made darn good movies but lonesome dove is darn good as well. wish they made more of them. our country could sure use em.

  117. 100 Greatest Westerns | Old Tucson Blog

    […] 100 Greatest Westerns, a special publication from the Weider History Group looks at 100 films that a panel of 10 experts selected as the best of the genre.  Click here to read the entire article…. […]

  118. MH

    4 of the films rated in this article as the 100 greatest westerns were filmed at Old Tucson Studios:

    1. Rio Bravo (1959)

    2. Tombstone (1993)

    3. Winchester ’73 (1950)

    4. Hombre (1967)

  119. Larry Myers

    “The Cowboys” “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” (next to “The Shootist” the Duke’s best performance) “Lonesome Dove” “Angel and the Badman’ “Silverado” and the remake of “True Grit” (2010) should definitely be on the list. Usually remakes don’t measure up to the original but the Coen brothers did a great job. Kudos to the young lady who played Mattie Ross-just terrific!

    • Mourice Houlette

      The Coen brothers version of True Grit was a waste of money making. Some movies should never be redone. John Waynes True Grit is one of them. It’s a perfect movie and is still a joy to watch. With all the good stories out there(millions & millions of books) why is there such a need to do remakes.

    • Vincent

      I completely agree with you about silverado. My top five are:
      1.The Magnifcient Seven
      2. Silverado
      3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
      4. The Outlaw Josey Wales
      5. Blazing Saddles

  120. Mat Kondo

    I agree with many of the candidates. The best westerns I have ever seen are ‘Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid’.
    Was just wondering, how about ‘No country for old men’? Could that be considered a western movie? I mean, obviously a modern western. I thought that was a fantastic movie. Just my two cents.


  121. Jason Adams

    My favorite genre is Western and one of my favorite movies of all time is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. What a classic! Old school Paul Newman and Robert Redford portraying two GREAT outlaws, how can it get any better?? If anyone is a fan of Butch and Sundance like I am definitely check out a book I just read called “Legends Lost” by Charlie Mac. http://www.charliemacbooks.com

    A great pairing to the movie!

  122. Dan

    My two cents on this list –

    “Last of the Mohicans” and “El Mariachi” are both good movies, but not westerns, in my opinion. As such, they shouldn’t be on the list.

    Missing from the list are –

    “Pale Rider”
    “Young Guns” (both 1 and 2)

  123. Aaron

    At the moment we’re still in talks and trying hard to fund our Westerns like everyone else I have spoken to,
    Our films are shot basically in Santa Fe county New Mexico, where we prefer shooting, the county is so film friendly, plus the continues blue skies….
    I will certainly let you know when we get a film in Santa fe has everything ready to roll… from authentic weapons from yester-year and sets, to horses and supporting actors.
    If you know of anyone willing to invest, that will be awesome, we off 200% return off a single $5,000.00 point and once they investors get their money returned in full, they get a further 10% residuals for 24 months for the film “Twisted Trail” which is the only film we can make that offer after talking with Distribution. “Lionsgate”
    I do most my casting off hard copy headshots and resumes, it makes it easy for whom I have.
    So I will try to keep in contact with you. thanks again.
    ARK Film Productions, LLC

  124. davvydd

    looking for a movie named Star Black… can anybody help? I remember the star ended up winning the poker game with 4 kings. Saw it in the mid ’60 s

  125. Grandcosmo

    A Top 100 Western list without John Ford’s, Wagon Master? Why bother?

  126. Cappy Gagnon

    Four Faces West, Angel and the Badman, and Pale Rider are all in my top ten.

    • Aaron

      Cappy, Angle and the Badman is so under rated, such a great classic western I fully agree.

  127. Ike

    This list has no credibility. You have “Posse” listed as one of the greatest Westerns. Fail

  128. john

    No one mention Tyrone Power & Susan Hayward in “Rawhide”?

    How can we forget Jack Elam as the creepy bandit.

    Hugh Marlowe was great as the escape convict / killer Zimmerman.

  129. John Adams

    Missing: ‘Lonesome Dove’, ‘The Life And Times of Judge Roy Bean’, ‘Missouri Breaks’, ‘Buffalo Bill And The Indians’, ‘No Country For Old Men’, ‘Monte Walsh’.

  130. Ardee

    Got a lot of good ones on the list. However, The Alamo, Last of the Mohicans, etc are historical movies not westerns. Dump all the comedies except add The Cheyenne Social Club (the town life is very close to actual western life at that time). El Mariachi ?? What were you smoking? The original 3:10 to Yuma, hands down a far better movie. Never understood the fascination with Tombstone, good Saturday Matinee movie but not a great one. Val Kilmer is great, supporting cast makes a really good story, but Kurt Russell is completely confused about how he wants to play Wyatt Earp, tough guy or whiner. Costner’s Earp is more historically accurate, Earp was a horses patute. By the way, I really, really wish someone would get the gun fight and the events that led up to it correct. The actual events, replete with boozy insults are far more fascinating than the Hollywood versions of the Gunfight In The Alley Next To C.J. Fry’s Boarding House. Last if you want to include TV mini-series or series, Little House on the Prairie is a good pick. Also lets leave Westerns west of the Mississippi to California and parts of Mexico.

  131. Bill B

    Your list is much better than other so called experts have posted. Randolph Scott made over 50 westerns, all good westerns versus many so called “great westerns”. All those he made with the great Budd Boetticher were certainly classics:

    The Tall T; Seven Men From Now; Decision at Sundown; Buchanan Rides Alone; Westbound; Rides Lonesome; Comanche Station

    Glad to see you have 4 of Randy’s on your list, but only one of Budd’s “Seven Men From Now”.

    Another reference point, is location. Lone Pine, CA, in the foothills of the Sierras and home of the Alabama Hills is the #1 filming location of Westerns, with Old Tucson a close second. All the great ones have filmed there, many times over. This list is endless, but includes Scott, Roy, Gene, Hoppy, The Duke, and Clint. Audie Murphy’s “Hell Bent For Leather” deserves on your list, one of several he filmed in Lone Pine.

    There have only been a handful of great westerns made since Randolph (1962) and The Duke (1976) left the scene. Certainly Tombstone, Open Range and several of Clint’s belong in that group. The likes of 3:10 to Yuma, Geronimo, Quigley Down Under and Man from Snowy River belong on other lists.

  132. The Man With No Name

    Where is Union Pacific (Joel McCrea), Northwest Passage (Spencer Tracy), North West Mounted Police (Gary Cooper) and Dodge City (Errol Flynn)?

  133. Mark

    The Scalphunters – starring Burt Lancaster, Ossie Davis, Telly Savalas and Shelly Winters. There is even a very young Dabney Coleman.

    Great movie. No wonder since it was directed by Sydney Pollack! Sorry that it wasn’t included in the list.

    I notice a few comedy like the Laurel & Hardy slapstick included in the list. So why not The Three Amigos?

  134. becktonboy

    Glad to see so many posters picked up on the glaring omissions which leapt out at me: Lawman, Soldier Blue, Scalphunters, HPD, Hang ’em High, even Joe Kidd (yeah, you guessed it I’m a real Clint nut who incidentally puts Unforgiven at the top of any list), Cowboys, Cahill, Nevada Smith, Culpepper Cattle Co, Duck You Sucker (proves comedy doesn’t preclude heart-rending bathos, intelligent scripting and great action), Minnesota Raid, Young Guns, Terence Hill’s beauties, Hunting Party, etc etc So glad to see little known gems like McAbe and Mrs Miller make it, so downcast to see the massively overrated Shane included but that’s lists for you.
    One missing for me is Bite the Bullet – Hackman at his gritty best and for any real Clint fan Two Mules for Sister Sarah and The Beguiled. Also Eagle’s Wing, Geronimo (in addition to the American Legend) and Red Sun stand up well next to others on the list.
    God, I love westerns ………..

  135. Vijay Kode

    I think Benher is the best film it must be in 100 best films list

  136. David Lauterborn

    Since this forum clearly still has legs — with batwing chaps, no less — we thought we’d throw out another question as food for thought:

    “How much does the decade(s) of one’s upbringing impact his/her list of favorite Westerns?”

    I’ll go first: I grew up in the latter-day Duke/Clint/Bonanza era, though Gunsmoke and the Lone Ranger remained in reruns. Growing up, then, I was a spaghetti Western addict, sometimes logging hours of back-to-back Saturday matinees and wholly ignoring my father’s pleas to “go play in the street, kid.” But I’ve since discovered a wealth of earlier Westerns, as well as a few recent gems, and I’m no longer stuck on spaghetti, though it remains on the menu.

    It does surprise me to find devotees of one era or another who decry any attempts at remaking their big-screen hero of choice. Take, for example, True Grit. I love aspects of both versions. Kim Darby’s “Mattie” tugs at the heart, and the Duke is absolutely iconic. That said, the cinematography of the remake is stunning, the dialogue is closer to Portis’ novel, Bridges’ “Rooster” is all his own, and Barry Pepper’s “Lucky Ned” gives Duvall a run for his money.

    My only “indignation” regards the fact that the 1969 version garnered Wayne his only Academy Award (how can that be? … Searchers? … Cowboys? … Shootist? … QUIET MAN? … Hello?) and that the 2010 version drew 10 nominations but took home not a single Oscar. Again, how can that be?

    To paraphrase The Who, “Talk about your generation … “

  137. Chris

    My eyesight must be going…just had another look and they’re both on the list!!

  138. Paul Herring

    Few have mentioned the B-Westerns of the 30s. There were some good ones. Including “Stagecoach” and several Ken Maynard films.

    Most very modern Westerns are super violent, which means that young children shouldn’t watch them. So a whole genre of films has been lost to the younger generation because movie-makers feel they must give the public what they perceive the public wants.

    At least in those far-off days of the 30s all the family could go to matinees and watch Westerns and come away feeling entertained.

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  140. Frederick Khalil

    Jubal! Made in 1956, a gritty, rough, brutal western. Unforgettable Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Noah Beery Jr.
    Jeez guys…..JUBAL.

    There’s a lot of movies on this list that smells like sheep dip.

  141. Matt Temp


    I am looking for a western movie I saw years ago but cannot recall the name. All I can remember is that towards the end of the movie there is a group of people trying to get on a train that is coming towards them. It is near a field. They have the tracks covered in grass to hide the tracks…I believe there was a switch house of somekind near where the grass is hiding the tracks so that they can switch the tracks… and everyone gets on the train except 1 character who runs across the field they are near to catch the train as it rolls on the tracks that arch around the field. the last characters is running across the field to cut off the train to get on it with the rest of his group. I believe the running character may be an indian?

    can you help me find the name of this movie? i thought it had charles bronson, mebbe not. tempmatt@hotmail.com THANK YOU!

  142. michaeljones

    I have watched many of these films but I liked Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and the The Wild Bunch (1969).

  143. Greg hurst

    Lots of thoughtful interesting comments in this string. Maybe one of the reasons this genre is special (in addition to being one of the few major contributions of US to collective world culture) is that its appeal spans a cross-section of US politics as well as taste: liberals as well as conservatives, working-class as well as highbrows, etc. Since others seem to be embracing \McCabe and Mrs. Miller,\ I will also recommend another modern-era film that deeserves classic status: \Days of Heaven.\ I propose it meets the key criteria of this thread, by having \the West\ as a key aspect. It is, to my taste, nearly perfect in story line, character definition & development, as well as a masterpiece of cinematography; the scene with the steam train crossing the high bridge is breathtaking. The sparse use of dialog and narration lets the visuals dominate, bringing in place & time as essential characters in the story. A work of art.

  144. wild america movie questions | Inspiring

    […] 100 greatest western movies – history net: where history A panel of experts selected the 100 greatest western movies of all time. history net offers you a chance to vote for your top choice and asks what movies were. […]

  145. wild america movie questions | Inspiring

    […] 100 greatest western movies – history net: where history A panel of experts selected the 100 greatest western movies of all time. history net offers you a chance to vote for your top choice and asks what movies were. […]

  146. Hi

    Shane – the book – is in my top three, all time, for westerns. Great characters, great story, classic ending.

    The movie? Lame.
    Palance is great, Joey (the boy) is perfect. The rest? Not so much.

  147. Ray

    Quigley down Under, Blood Simple, The Mark of Zorro, El Mariachi , Bad day at Black Rock,

  148. Wayne Engle

    To the person who mentioned \The Searchers\ and its \racist\ content, I would like to say this:
    I think that \The Searchers\ is the best Western ever made. The \racist\ (I always put that word in quotes, as it is bandied about so much that it has become meaningless to me) content itself didn’t bother me, as it was common in that time and place, long before \political correctness.\ What did bother me is that the film hardly even hints at why John Wayne hated the Comanches so much. There had to be a reason, didn’t there? Or is the assumption that White people are just natural-born \racists\?
    In addition to that comment on \The Searchers,\ I’d like to say that I was thrilled to see that my childhood hero Gene Autry’s 1949 film \Riders in the Sky\ made the list. Unless I missed something, it was the only \B\ Western to make the cut. And I think the choice of \Riders\ was very appropriate.

  149. Rod Rutherford

    I grew up on westerns. All little boys of my era wanted to be cowboys. Our favorites were Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.
    It was a special treat to attend the only movie theater in our rural county. Saturdays had double features – usually a western and a comedy with a cartoon and a newsreel. Gene Autry was the most versatile of the western stars as an actor in movies and TV, had his own radio show for 16 years, and made many recordings which sold in the millions. Before movies, he was the first superstar of Country music. It was he who put the Western in Country and Western. To him rightly belongs credit for being the first genuine singing cowboy and starting the whole genre of musical westerns. Other cowboy singers such as Roy Rogers, Jimmy Wakely, Eddie Dean, etc. imitated his style. He rightly deserves his five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

  150. Spencer de Vere

    No WARLOCK (Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Anthony Quinn) ?

    Many in your list I would not include (War Wagon, Will Penny, Cat Ballou, etc) and any ‘spaghetti’ western, but you do include the essentials – The Searchers, Shane, Red River, Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rio Bravo.

    FRIENDLY PERSUASION isn’t strictly a Western (Gary Cooper) but i’d include it. Bad Day at Black Rock might be set in a Western town, but is it a Western?

  151. Pat

    Think Disney, classic westerns are perfect rehabilitative entertainment in prisons to address the fuzzy ethics society failed to teach for a generation, good for young, and old alike. Great for critical thinking, and good entertainment, too.


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