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25 Greatest American Westerns of All Time

Movies have always been a great interest of Kelley's, particularly as this relates to producing lists of the greatest ones for each genre.

Scene from "The Wild Bunch"

Scene from "The Wild Bunch"

You won’t find any so-called Spaghetti Westerns on this list. There will only be American Westerns here. Whether they are old or new, these films tell stories about the Old West, a wild and sometimes lawless land, the likes of which will never be seen again. Keep in mind that this compilation only includes the original movies, not the remakes, unless otherwise stated.

Please enjoy this list of the 25 greatest American Westerns of all time!

Are you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?

— Josey Wales

Scene from the "Ox-Bow Incident"

Scene from the "Ox-Bow Incident"

25. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

A tragic, gut-wrenching tale starring Henry Fonda and directed by William Wellman, the movie was produced as World War Two raged on in 1943. The film is about a posse that turns vigilante and lynches three men for a murder that—as it turns out—had not been committed. Back in town, after discovering the three hanged men were innocent, Major Tetley, the leader of the posse, dressed in the grey uniform of a Confederate officer, promptly goes off and commits suicide. This parable of anarchic Western justice was a critical success, though it didn’t make very much money.

Scene from "The Professionals"

Scene from "The Professionals"

24. The Professionals (1966)

This action-adventure has another stellar cast: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Claudia Cardinale, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, Ralph Bellamy, and Woody Strode. The story takes place during the Mexican Revolution—a popular time for “modern” Westerns, when gunslingers could slaughter the opposition with machine guns instead of six-shooters. J. W. Grant (Ralph Bellamy) hires four combat experts to rescue his wife, Mrs. Maria Grant, (Claudia Cardinale), who’s been abducted by a Mexican bandit named Jesus Raza (Jack Palance). After much gunplay, the professionals free Mrs. Grant and soon discover she wasn’t abducted by Raza; she only wanted to flee her husband and run off with Raza, her childhood sweetheart. Then the professionals send Mrs. Grant and Raza back to Mexico—without the pros getting paid for freeing Mrs. Grant!

Scene from "Ride the High Country"

Scene from "Ride the High Country"

23. Ride the High Country (1962)

Ride the High Country was Sam Peckinpah’s first Western, though he had directed numerous TV Westerns. Starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, two mainstays of the genre for decades, the movie is about two worn out cowboys hired to take a gold shipment to a mining town. McCrea wants to do what’s right, but Scott wants to steal the gold so he can retire with a few bucks in his saddle bags. But at the obligatory gunfight at the end, Scott does what is right. Filmed in the early 1960s and starring such famous craggy cowpokes, the movie feels like an elegy to the “oater.”

Scene from "Lonely Are the Brave"

Scene from "Lonely Are the Brave"

22. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

Lonely Are the Brave is about a cowboy drifter named Jack Burns, played by Kirk Douglas, who can’t adjust to the modern world of the early 1960s. Refusing to carry identity cards, Burns says, “I don’t need cards to figure out who I am, I already know.” When Burns’ friend is put in jail, Burns gets himself arrested so he can break him out. Unfortunately, the friend has a family to protect and refuses to go. So Burns breaks out of jail by himself, then hops on his trusty horse, Whiskey, and flees to the mountains, hoping to make it to Mexico. The sheriff, played by Walter Matthau, chases Burns, but doesn’t really want to catch him. Finally, just feet from Mexico, a trucker hits Burns while he crosses the highway, killing Whiskey, a very sad moment in the film. Now apprehended, Burns will almost certainly be sent back to jail. Interestingly, Kirk Douglas said, of the movies he's made, this one is his favorite.

Scene from "Ride with the Devil"

Scene from "Ride with the Devil"

21. Ride with the Devil (1999)

Ride with the Devil is director Ang Lee’s take on the American Civil War, particularly the part fought in Missouri involving Union forces and northern Jayhawkers fighting guerrilla armies such as Quantrill's Raiders and the Bushwhackers, that is, Southern irregulars who wanted no part of the Southern Army. The movie stars Tobey Maguire, who plays Jake “Dutchy” Roedel, a German immigrant, who fights with the Bushwhackers. A teenager throughout the conflict, Roedel doesn’t start out as a leader but eventually becomes one. Opposite Roedel is Daniel Holt, a former slave played by Jeffery Wright. They form a potent duo, and one with obvious irony. Ride with the Devil did poorly at the box office, even though it’s a very good film about the Civil War.

Scene from "Stagecoach"

Scene from "Stagecoach"

20. Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach was released during Hollywood’s greatest year—1939. One of many Westerns directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Stagecoach became a template for Westerns to follow. Wayne plays the Ringo Kid, who, after busting out of jail, meets up with a stagecoach filled with fascinating characters. However, before reaching their destinations, a band of Apaches led by Geronimo attacks the stage on a flat stretch of desert, precipitating one of the most memorable and iconic cowboys-and-Indians battle scenes ever made. This movie made John “the Duke” Wayne a star.

Scene from "Unforgiven"

Scene from "Unforgiven"

19. Unforgiven (1992)

Considered a revisionist or anti-Western, Unforgiven has star power: Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, and Clint Eastwood, who also directed the film. Eastwood plays William Munny, an infamous, aging outlaw who, along with Ned Logan (Freeman), another has-been outlaw, pursue two cowboys who defaced a prostitute, hoping to collect a $1,000 bounty. But Logan, now a reluctant accomplice, lets Munny and the Schofield Kid kill the sadistic cowpokes. Then, ready to celebrate, Logan goes into the town of Big Whiskey, where Sheriff “Little” Bill Daggett, thinking Logan’s a murderer, captures him, tortures him to death, and then mounts his corpse in a coffin outside the saloon. Outraged, Munny confronts Sheriff Daggett and shoots him dead. Notably, Unforgiven won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Scene from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

Scene from "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

18. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Directed by legendary director John Ford, this film is about Senator Ranse Stoddard (James Stewart)—reputedly the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance—who’s been keeping a secret for 25 years. Stoddard has traveled all the way from Washington to attend the funeral of rancher Tom Doniphon (John Wayne)—and reporters want to know why. So Stoddard recounts the tale of his showdown in Shinbone with notorious murderer Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Stoddard is completely overmatched by Valance yet manages to fire his revolver at him. Simultaneously, Tom Doniphon, standing unseen nearby, shoots dead Valance with his lever-action rifle. Back in the present day, local newspaper editor Maxwell Scott declares that he won’t print Stoddard’s revisionist story: "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Scene from "Open Range"

Scene from "Open Range"

17. Open Range (2003)

Taking place in Montana during the 1880s, Open Range is about the conflict between open range cattlemen and ranchers who want to keep their land to themselves. Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) play open range cowboys, who clash with rancher Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon), a ruthless Irish immigrant who seems willing to use as much violence, including murder, to thwart the open range cowpokes. At the climax of the movie, Spearman and Waite shoot it out with Baxter and his hired guns. Spearman and Waite are outnumbered until the townspeople join the battle and help defeat Baxter. This movie did well at the box office and most critics liked it, particularly the realistic gunfight at the denouement, which seems one of the greatest in the history of American Westerns.

Scene from "A Man Called Horse"

Scene from "A Man Called Horse"

16. A Man Called Horse (1970)

A Man Called Horse stars Richard Harris who portrays Lord John Morgan, a British aristocrat who in 1825 is captured by the Sioux Indians, then made a slave called Horse, until he proves his bravery, honor, and worthiness by undergoing the Sun Vow Initiation, in which he is suspended from the ground by hooks piercing his pectoral muscles, a truly mesmerizing scene! Now a member of the tribe, Morgan, using English battle tactics and helps his tribe fight off a rival tribe. However, his pregnant Indian wife dies in the conflict. The movie spawned two sequels.

Scene from "Duel at Diablo"

Scene from "Duel at Diablo"

15. Duel at Diablo (1966)

Duel at Diablo, released in 1966, features Sidney Poitier as the Westerns’ first black man playing a leading role. Poitier plays a slick-dressed ex-army man who breaks horses for a living. James Garner plays an army scout who is trying to find the murderer of his wife, a Comanche Indian. Poitier and Garner help deliver needed supplies, ammunition, and recruits to Fort Conchos. Dennis Weaver plays a freight driver, who, as it turns out, is the man who murdered Garner’s wife. The Apache Indians, hoping to get their hands on the supplies and ammo, attack the soldiers and civilians in a box canyon. The besieged folks hold on until the U. S. Calvary comes to the rescue. And please note that the jazzy theme music is some of the best ever for a cowboy flick!

twenty-greatest-american-westerns

14. Nevada Smith (1966)

Nevada Smith is perhaps the greatest revenge film of the genre. Steve McQueen plays the title role of a man, his real name Max Sand, who crosses the West to avenge the murder of his white father and Indian mother. The murderers are played by Carl Malden, Arthur Kennedy, and Martin Landau. Smith finds and kills the characters played by Kennedy, and then Landau in a spectacular knife fight, but he has to join a gang of outlaws to get at Malden’s character, Tom Fitch. Finally Smith chases down Fitch but, in the end, can’t kill the man after putting two bullets in his legs, even after Fitch repeatedly screams, “Finish me!” Then Max says, “You’re just not worth killing,” and tosses away his pistol. This ending is certainly one of the most emotionally stirring in the history of American Westerns.

Marlon Brando in "Viva Zapata!"

Marlon Brando in "Viva Zapata!"

13. Viva Zapata! (1952)

Viva Zapata!is a biopic about Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata, who leads a peasant revolt in the early 1900s. Marlon Brando plays the lead in this tale of good intentions gone awry because of greed and the quest for power. John Steinbeck wrote the screenplay, which contains some historical inaccuracies— nothing new in the movies, of course. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Elia Kazan, this movie is definitely a product of the Hollywood movie mill. Nevertheless, Brando’s portrayal of Zapata—his hard, stoic features and tough as nails demeanor—shows one of Brando's greatest performances.

Scene from "Gunfight at the OK Corral"

Scene from "Gunfight at the OK Corral"

12. Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)

Gunfight at the OK Corral depicts perhaps the Old West’s most famous gunfight, when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday battle the Clantons and Johnny Ringo back in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. The film has an all-star cast—one of the best ever for a Western— led by Burt Lancaster as Earp and Kirk Douglas as Holliday. This film has as much explosive drama and exciting gunplay as most fans could want, especially when, at the beginning of the movie, legendary bad guy Lee Van Cleef rides into town, oozing malevolence, until Holliday impales him with a knife. And the title gunfight which erupts at the climax is, of course, one of the best, though not historically accurate—but who gives a bucket of mule spit?

Scene from "The Magnificent Seven"

Scene from "The Magnificent Seven"

11. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

The Magnificent Seven is another Western with an ensemble cast—Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, and Charles Bronson, et al, and the musical score by Elmer Bernstein is definitely the most memorable of any American Western—so good Marlboro cigarettes snatched it a few years later. Though paid a paltry wage, these seven gunslingers ride out to help a village of Mexican farmers harassed by a passel of Mexican bandits with Calvera (Wallach) calling the shots. Even though they are vastly outnumbered, the Seven eventually defeat the bandits, displaying incredible bravery, boldness, and marksmanship. This is the quintessential Old West “shoot ‘em up” and must have sold millions of tons of buttered popcorn in the theatres. The movie has a moral too: Gunfighters always lose. (Naturally, we know better.)

Scene from "Hang 'Em High"

Scene from "Hang 'Em High"

10. Hang 'Em High (1968)

Hang ‘Em High has a plot line similar to that in The Ox-Bow Incident. An ex-lawman turned rancher, played by Clint Eastwood, pushes a small herd of cattle when he confronts nine men, who promptly accuse him of stealing the cattle and killing the man who owned them. They then lynch this man named Jed Cooper, who’s then rescued by a U.S. Marshal (Ben Johnson) who just happens to come by minutes later. Then Cooper becomes a marshal again, so he can—legally—hunt down the men who hanged him, which he does, of course. Along the way, Cooper apprehends three men guilty of cattle rustling and murder, two of whom are only 16 years old. Cooper tries to save these youngsters from hanging, but the local judge (Pat Hingle) insists on “hanging ‘em high.”

Scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

Scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a heavily stylized tale about the aforementioned legendary bank and train robbers in the early 1900s. Written by Oscar-winner William Goldman, the leading characters, played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford, are likeable guys, with plenty of wisecracks coming from Newman’s Butch Cassidy and lots of gunplay from Redford’s Sundance. In the middle of the film, as the characters relax between robberies, they and their girlfriend, played by Katharine Ross, frolic about a ranch as B.J. Thomas sings “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” Whoever heard of such a thing in a Western? Then, when matters get too hot for Butch and Sundance, they flee to Bolivia, where the army finally catches up with them.

John Wayne in "True Grit"

John Wayne in "True Grit"

8. True Grit (1969)

True Grit—the original version, mind you—is so good even Glen Campbell’s terrible acting can’t ruin it! John Wayne plays Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, an aging, whiskey-swilling, flinty, one-eyed U.S. Marshall who helps a young woman find the killer of her father, while Campbell looks for another desperado with a large price on his head. The journey takes the trio deep into Indian territory, where they encounter “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall) and his dastardly gang. At one point, Rooster squares off with the gang in a clearing, shouting “Fill your hand, you son-of-a-bitch!” (All Western fans love this line, of course.) On horseback, with the reins clenched firmly between his teeth, Rooster charges his adversaries, guns ablazing. Wayne won an Oscar for his leading role.

Scene from "Blazing Saddles"

Scene from "Blazing Saddles"

7. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Blazing Saddles is the one and only Western parody on this list. Written and directed by Mel Brooks, who also plays many roles in it, including that of Governor, this movie is without peer. The story goes thusly: in order to clear out the town of Rock Ridge, where the railroad will be coming through, the underhanded attorney general played by Harvey Korman, persuades the dim-witted Governor to hire a black sheriff, hoping the people of the town will either lynch the sheriff or get out of Dodge so Korman can grab all the land. Outrageous, vulgar comedy punctuates this film, with liberal use of the n-word and scatological humor, such as the scene in which Slim Pickens and other cowboys, after eating liberal amounts of beans, pass wind hilariously and with absurd abandon. The film climaxes with a brawl that spills over into adjoining studio sets at Warner Bros.

twenty-greatest-american-westerns

6. High Plains Drifter (1973)

High Plains Drifter opens as a lone man rides from within the high desert thermals, looking spectral and ominous, seemingly a spawn of the arid bleakness around him. This dust-blown drifter is Clint Eastwood, of course, playing a stranger who guns down three men and rapes a woman (who asks for it) almost as soon as he arrives in the town of Lago, Arizona. But the stranger is troubled; he has nightmares about being whipped to death by three men. Then, frightened by the imminent return of three convicts, the townspeople hire the stranger to protect them. Eastwood then paints the town red, changes its name to Hell, and hires a dwarf, his only friend, as sheriff. At the end we find out that the stranger was in fact the ghost of Marshal Duncan, exacting revenge for his murder. For fun, the grave of "Sergio Leone" is shown in the cemetery at the end, as well as Marshal Duncan’s unmarked grave.

Scene from "The Searchers"

Scene from "The Searchers"

5. The Searchers (1956)

The Searchers is a story about Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) who goes searching for his niece (Debbie) after she’s abducted by the Comanche Indians. Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter) and Brad Jorgensen (Harry Carey Jr.), whose fiancé was also taken, join Edwards. They soon find Carey’s fiancé defiled and murdered, and then Carey, incensed, gets himself killed by the Indians. After years of searching high and low through places such as Texas and New Mexico, Edwards and Pawley finally find Debbie. Edwards wants to kill her because he thinks the Indians must have made a mess of her, but she looks surprisingly good. (It’s a wonder what makeup can do on Natalie Wood, who hardly needed it.) They take Debbie home, walking into a darkened ranch house, as Edwards strolls out into the sunlight, certainly one of the most striking endings in the history of Westerns—and quite a tear-jerker.

Scene from "Little Big Man"

Scene from "Little Big Man"

4. Little Big Man (1970)

Little Big Man is the tale of Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman), now 121 years old, who claims to be the sole white survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Crabb tells the story of being abducted by the Cheyenne Indians (and later adopted by them because of his bravery), and also becoming the sidekick to Wild Bill Hickok and working as a scout for the vainglorious General George Armstrong Custer, who leads the massacre of Indians at the Battle of Washita River, about which Crabb plots revenge. Filmed in 1970 during the Vietnam War, the movie paints the U.S. Army as villains and the Indians as their victims. Using parody, satire, comedy and drama, the film exposes prejudice, stereotypes, and particularly the inhuman treatment of the American Indians, a popular theme at the time. In 1967, Eric Burdon of the Animals sang that “the American dream includes Indians too.”

Scene from "The Outlaw Josey Wales"

Scene from "The Outlaw Josey Wales"

3. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

The Outlaw Josey Wales depicts the tale of Josey Wales, a peaceful farmer living in Missouri during the Civil War. Union Jayhawkers and “Red-leggers” attack Wales’ farm, shoot Wales, rape his wife, and then murder her and Wales’ son. Wales then joins the Confederate Missouri guerrillas until the end of the Civil War. Refusing to surrender after the war, Wales gets into a fray with the U.S. Army, mowing down bluecoats with a Gatling gun, and then becomes an outlaw with a big price on his head. His Colt Walker .44-caliber revolvers spewing lead, and while spitting tobacco juice on just about everything, Wales fights Yankee soldiers every time he runs into them, hoping to kill any of them connected to his family’s demise, particularly their leader, Captain Terrill, whom Wales finally kills with a saber through the gut. Then, while bloodied and leaving town after killing Terrill, Wales sees Fletcher, his old Confederate captain, who tells him the war is over. Wales nods and says, “I guess we all died a little in that damn war,” and then rides into the sunset.

Scene from "Dances with Wolves"

Scene from "Dances with Wolves"

2. Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves presents the tale of reluctant Civil War hero Lieutenant John J. Dunbar (Kevin Costner), who, after the end of the war, wants to see the West before it’s gone forever. Dunbar, now assigned to a frontier post, journeys to Fort Sedgwick and becomes its only occupant, and there he befriends a wolf. Dunbar becomes a member of the nearby Lakota Sioux tribe and, with the help of surplus army firearms, helps them fight off a Pawnee raiding party. Eventually, the army shows up, sees that Dunbar has “turned Injun,” and arrests him. Soon, the Lakota free Dunbar and go on the run with him, disappearing in the mountains. The movie has numerous moving scenes, particularly when Dunbar and the Indians find a herd of buffalo butchered by white hunters who only kept the hides, leaving the rest to rot on the ground. Disgusted and ashamed, Dunbar leaves the tribe for the night.

Scene from "The Wild Bunch," when they confront General Mapache and his many soldiers

Scene from "The Wild Bunch," when they confront General Mapache and his many soldiers

1. The Wild Bunch (1969)

The plot of this movie takes place during the Mexican Revolution in 1914. Directed by “Bloody” Sam Peckinpah, the movie opens when a gang of outlaws led by Pike Bishop (William Holden) robs a bank supposedly filled with silver coins. A ferocious gun battle erupts when law enforcement ambushes the bank robbers as they flee. The surviving five robbers later discover that their silver coins are nothing but steel washers. The gang members laugh loudly—as the joke is on them! Chased by Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan), who was let out of prison to chase Bishop, the Wild Bunch then heads for Mexico, where they join forces with a corrupt Mexican warlord named General Mapache. But they get off on the wrong foot with the General when one gang member, Angel, a Mexican, kills Mapache’s girlfriend out of jealousy. Nevertheless, the General hires the Wild Bunch to rob a U.S. Army train filled with guns and ammo.

When the Wild Bunch returns with the guns they stole from the Army, General Mapache discovers one box of rifles is missing. He quickly learns that Angel gave the rifles to the people of his village, so the General abducts Angel. Later, when the Wild Bunch finds out the General has been torturing Angel, they confront him, demanding Angel’s release, even though the General is protected by scores of armed soldiers. Defiantly, the General then cuts Angel’s throat. Another heated battle ensues, this time with the Wild Bunch brandishing hand grenades, pump action shotguns, semi-automatic pistols, and they soon capture a Browning M1917 machine gun, with which they mow down waves of Mexican soldiers. This incredibly exciting gun battle is like nothing seen before or since in American Westerns.

Of course, if this movie only displayed rousing gunplay, it would simply be considered good. But since the characterizations are so engrossing, you really grow to care about these fearless, aging bandits. Therefore, The Wild Bunch is definitely the best Western on this list.

© 2009 Kelley Marks

Comments

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 27, 2012:

Any of these classic oaters would be a good selection, ElleBee. As you wrote, AMC shows plenty of westerns but they also show commercials - yuck! Thanks for the comment. Later!

ElleBee on September 27, 2012:

I will have to look for some of these on Hulu or at the library. I've gotten into Westerns lately, but I've just been watching what is on Hallmark/AMC etc. or what I can find OnDemand. Happy for a few good suggestions :)

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on January 02, 2012:

Thanks for the comment, edharewood. I've loved Westerns since I was a kid. Later!

edharewood from Toronto on January 01, 2012:

I have a number of these movies in my own list of top westerns, and have enjoyed them over and over, for many years

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 10, 2011:

Thanks for the comment, Steve Lensman, I also think "Gunfight at the OK Corral" is the greatest of the Wyatt Earp films to date. I also like the Spaghetti Westerns. Check out my list for those, if you like. Later!

Steve Lensman from Manchester, England on September 10, 2011:

An excellent list Kosmo. I'm glad you've included the Gunfight at the OK Corral one of my favourites. Other lists tend to ignore that one choosing My Darling Clementine or Hour of the Gun instead, both good but I enjoy Gunfight a lot more.

I love westerns but I'm almost ashamed to admit my all time favourite is an Italian western - Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo. ;)

Voted Up and Interesting

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on September 10, 2011:

"Lonesome Dove" was a TV series, wasn't it? So it wouldn't qualify for this list. But it was a great novel, which I read. Hope to see the series one of these days. Can't wait to see who played Blue Duck. Later!

susan beck from drexel hill,pa on September 09, 2011:

All I can say is "Lonesome Dove..."

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 07, 2011:

You're right about "Dances with Wolves," it did use some stereotypes and certainly pushed the right buttons for many folks. For that particular story, it's time had come. As for the "Magnificent Seven," the seven were some of the prettiest gunslingers I've ever seen. Later!

ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on June 06, 2011:

Like you said you had to cut somewhere. the list could have easily gone up to 50. I liked dances with wolfs except for the fact that the whites were mostly evil, the suiox were all good and the other tribe were all blood thristy. Talk about stereotypes! The Magnicecint seven was good except for the fact they were all using handgun's when rifles would have been more accurate with greater range. Speaking of range the range of western styles here is pretty impressive.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 04, 2011:

Thanks for the compliment, Cogerson. Coming from a classic movie buff such as yourself, it certainly carries much weight. As for including "Blazing Saddles" on this list, I just did it for laughs. Later!

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on June 03, 2011:

Another great movie list.....I love Blazing Saddles but it seems a little out of place on this list.....#20 Ride the High Country is a classic that not many people know about....it was a pleasure to read this hub.....voted up.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 01, 2011:

Hey, Agvulpes, "Unforgiven" is very good, and for that I almost put it on this list. But I already have a crapload of Eastwood here - that's my reasoning anyway. Also, I only picked American westerns because they started the genre and I haven't seen all the foreign ones. Even the Aussies have made a few, eh? Later!

Peter from Australia on January 31, 2011:

Like most lists it is very subjective! I would agree with many of these but like 'stendek' above I would include 'Shane' as I believe it started a trend. I also agree with 'matty' about 'Dancing etc'... boring lol

How about 'Unforgiven' with Gene Hackman ?

Lake Ozark Rentals on January 14, 2010:

Dances with Wolves is one of my all time favorites. Great movie! 3:10 to Yuma was also a good one!

Duchess OBlunt on January 12, 2010:

Great list! I'll have to share this with the hubby and see if there are any here that he hasn't seen. Where on earth did you find pictures of all those posters? Great job with that.

Brians Roar on December 11, 2009:

Great choices and good job. You burned a lot of daylight on this one.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 01, 2009:

Puritanical is hardly an accurate term when describing my critique of westerns. Whatever! Keep in mind, spaghetti westerns also had an element of parody, of which movies such as "High Plains Drifter" and the "Wild Bunch" had very little - exaggeration certainly, but not laughs, except in "Drifter" when they show the grave of Sergio Leone in the cemetery. That was definitely a hoot. Later!

Matty on October 31, 2009:

Good point about the cross fertilization which is precisely why you should include spaghetti westerns. They may not be made in America by Americans but they have all the essential elements of a western (unlike Dances with Wolves). Furthermore, they pushed the genre in new directions. I understand that your list is for purely American westerns, but if you're going to be that puritanical, you should not include any "American spaghetti westerns" (High Plains Drifter, Wild Bunch etc.).

tony0724 from san diego calif on October 31, 2009:

While I question "Blazing Saddles being Included In this list I cannot dispute that It was a fantastic movie that I laughed at till my face hurt . Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was my all timer and If I may Interject I would like to Include "Tombstone " as well . Thx for a great read Kosmo.

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on October 31, 2009:

There has been plenty of cross-fertilzation in the western genre. After all, would there have been any spaghetti westerns if it weren't for American westerns? Clearly not. Shame on you for saying "Dances with Wolves" doesn't belong on this list. At any rate, thanks for the comment. Later!

Matty on October 31, 2009:

Your list sucks. Allow me to elaborate:

1) You don't include spaghetti westerns because they're not American. But you include films that clearly imitate spaghetti westerns such as Hang em High and High Plains Drifter. The truth is that spaghetti westerns breathed new life into the western genre with their graphic violence and moral ambiguity. Indeed your number 1, The Wild Bunch, is clearly influenced by Sergio Leone. You also include the Magnificent Seven which copied Seven Samurai.

2) Dances with Wolves? What the hell is that doing on the list?

3) The Searchers should be number 1. A western that trandscends the genre.

4) You probably should have included a few more John Ford and Howard Hawks Westerns.

JW Fan on August 29, 2009:

Chisum

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 14, 2009:

All of those westerns are good, but I have to cut somewhere. Later!

wanrey from Canada on July 13, 2009:

three ten to Yuma the original

El darado and of course high noon

Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 05, 2009:

"Shane" is very good of course, but I don't like it near as much as some folks. Later!

stendek on May 04, 2009:

Hi. Nice list. I love Josey Wales too. What happened to Shane? Oh well. Best. Stendek

Adam B on April 01, 2009:

I have seen quyite a few on that list and they are all very good. I never really considered "Bl;azing Saddles" a western until I saw it on your list. I guess it is isn't it.

I would have to bump some in favor of "Tombstone" and "Appalosa"