7 Wild Wild Westerns ...

Lyndsie

Best Westerns – the movies, mind you, not the hotels – were a staple in my house while I was growing up. This post is largely dedicated to my dad, Tim, a lifelong John Wayne fan, who patiently but enthusiastically introduced me to nearly every Western movie ever made. No, no, I'm kidding! (But only slightly.) I did see a lot of them with my dad, though, and as such, against all odds, I became a fan. No, not all of the Western films on this list contain The Duke, but you'll be seeing his name a lot. Take a look!

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1

The Searchers

True to what I promised, I begin this list of the best Westerns with a John Wayne movie. It just can't be helped, y'all, he was so vital to this entire genre. Besides, for people who today see him as a character and a caricature, he's worth another, deeper look. He's the quintessential Western character in this film, absolutely, but you can easily see the way he commands that typical role, especially when he's being directed by John Ford.

2

The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch is one of my favorite Western movies for a variety of reasons. It features William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, and Warren Oates against a South American guerilla army. It's not your classic Western, because for one thing, it doesn't view death as some noble, heroic ending. There are also clear signs that it's attacking the Vietnam war, which Sam Peckinpah wove through the film with real skill.

3

Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood makes a fantastic cowboy, which is why Unforgiven is considered one of the best Westerns ever. A more recent example of the genre, it's also something of a revisionist movie because it, too, emphasizes the true story of what things were like on the frontier. It's difficult to discern who's good and who's evil – even when it comes to William Munny. There are no stereotypes here, which actually helps make many scenes that much more chilling.

4

Shane

Shane is honestly one of the most beautiful Western films I've ever seen. The cinematography is beautiful, the acting is highly sensitive, and although the story and plot are somewhat cliché, they are so lyrical and lovely you don't even care. Alan Ladd stars in this, and you really feel something for his depiction as Shane wanders, alone, over the plains. Naturally there's a rich cattle baron in the mix but, again, the nuances are so rich that it doesn't even matter – especially once the viewer starts to see the truth of what Shane is and what he does.

5

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Hey, I was honest; I said you'd be seeing John Wayne a lot. If you watch this Western movie, you won't be sorry. It's probably my favorite best Western flick, right down to the title. John Ford is the director, notable because he was so important to the genre, and he helped create a truly lyrical, stunning film. James Stewart and Lee Marvin star with John Wayne, along with Woody Strode and Vera Miles. See it. Seriously. There's no way to adequately describe why this is one of the hallmarks of the entire genre.

6

High Noon

I adore Gary Cooper, and he's really in his element as Marshall Will Kane. In a plot that emulates all kinds of present-day buddy-cop movies, Will's about to retire, or at least leave his town, but he has to fight one last baddie. Grace Kelly stars as well, and she is just amazing – perfectly at home in this Western film, which many wouldn't expect.

7

True Grit

I'm including this as one of the best Western films for two reasons: I like it, and anyone who's only familiar with the adaptation starring Jeff Bridges should really see it. I absolutely don't hate on the most recent version at all, but for me the original will always be tops. John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby just gel together, and besides that, it's a great setup to go on and see Rooster Cogburn.

Everyone has a different lists of best Westerns, if they enjoy the genre at all. That's great, because I'm eager to hear your opinions! We all identify with different cowboys, with different heroes and villains. The Western films you like say a lot about you, I think. So which ones do you enjoy the most?

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