The 50 Best Western Movies of All Time Ever Made!

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The western genre has been around since the first films were made. These best western movies of all time often involve cowboys, Indians, and outlaws fighting each other in the wild west. The stories usually deal with themes like justice, morality, and heroism. Here are some of the best modern westerns of all time to watch.

The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Director: Jacques Audiard

Writer: Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Patrick Dewitt

Cast: John C. Reilly, Joaquim Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal

IMDb Rating: 6.9/10

This movie takes us into 1850s western America. Here, the Sisters brothers, comprising a duo of assassins, set out in search of a gold prospector. They have the the help of an ally, John Morris. Do they succeed? Ensure you watch the movie to get the full story. It is among the best western movies of all time you can stream.

Unforgiven (1992)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: David Webb Peoples, David Webb Peoples

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

William Munny reluctantly agrees to hunt down the men who brutalized a prostitute. Unforgiven isn’t your typical shoot-up action movie . Its focus is on character development as we follow the life of a retired outlaw. Ensure you watch the movie to the end.

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The Searchers (1956)

Director: John Ford

Writer: Frank S. Nugent, Alan Le May

Cast: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

An ex-cavalry officer embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from Indians and the girl’s captor, who is also his surrogate nephew. The Searchers is a film that’s both epic and intimate as we follow the search for an abducted girl across the wide-open plains of early 20th century Texas.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)

Director: Robert Altman

Writer: Edmund Naughton, David Newman

Cast: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

A gambler and a prostitute start a business together in the Pacific Northwest mining town of Presbyterian Church, which was transformed by wealth from silver mines. This is a great movie that takes place in the late 19th century American west. Its slow pace and atmospheric feel is what makes it so special, with beautiful shots of mountains filled with snow contrasting against the dirt roads.

Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford

Writer: Dudley Nichols, Ernest Haycox, Joseph Farnham

Cast: Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Andy Devine

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

A group of strangers are thrown together into a journey across dangerous territory. Stagecoach is the movie that sets the standard for what a western should be like. It’s about an eclectic group of people traveling across the west at a dangerous time, and despite their differences, they band together to defend themselves against outside threats.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Director: Sergio Leone

Writer: Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sergio Donati

Cast: Henry Fonda

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10

A mysterious stranger is set out on a mission to protect a beautiful widow from an assassin out to get her, working for the railroad. He has a harmonica and he joins forces with a notorious desperado. Can he fulfill his mission?

Red River (1948)

Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Charles Schnee, Borden Chase

Cast: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

A cattle baron’s stubborn son fights against his father for control of their spread. This is yet another great western with John Wayne, and it’s a testament to the enduring appeal of this genre. Red River is not your typical cowboy movie. We see that there might be more than one side to each story as the two brothers fight for control over their inherited ranch.

The Naked Spur (1953)

Director: Anthony Mann

Writer: Sam Rolfe, Harold Jack Bloom, James Lee Barrett

Cast: Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

A bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin that’s inhabited by an outlaw and his hostage. This is a classic western with some great characters, including James Stewart in one of his best roles ever as the bounty hunter. With its gripping story and tense atmosphere, this movie has everything you want from an old-school western film.

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Writer: Walon Green, Roy N. Sickner, David Z. Goodman

Cast: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10

An aging outlaw and his gang of former criminals come together one last time to pull off their final heist. This is a very violent movie, but it’s also one of the best westerns ever made because of its fantastic characters and thrilling action scenes mixed with some amazing cinematography.

Rio Bravo (1959)

Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman, B.H. McCampbell, Maurice Tombragel

Cast: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

A small-town sheriff in the old west enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold off the bad guys until help can arrive. This is an iconic western that’s still talked about today for its brilliant characters and their interactions with each other. Every scene feels so natural because these people are all stuck together at this one hotel. There’s no time to waste in getting on with the story because there’s no way out until the next day.

Meek’s Cutoff (2010)

Director: Kelly Reichardt

Writer: Jonathan Raymond

Cast: Michelle Williams, Will Patton, Bruce Greenwood

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

Three families venture across the Oregon Trail in search of a better life. This is among the best western movies of all time since 2000 that aren’t just about cowboys and Indians. It’s a different kind of story that focuses more on the journey than any action or violence, but it still manages to make an impact thanks to some great characters in this small group making their way across the west.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Director: George Roy Hill

Writer: William Goldman

Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine Ross

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

Two famous outlaws flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close for comfort. This is one of the best westerns ever made, and it shows what an impact these outlaw characters had on society at the time. This is a fantastic buddy movie with some unforgettable moments along the way.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Director: John Ford

Writer: Dorothy M. Johnson, Willis Goldbeck, James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck

Cast: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

An aging lawyer seeks revenge by confronting a vicious outlaw with the help of a stubborn gunslinger. This is a classic film that still holds up today thanks to its brilliant story and wonderful cast of characters. It’s also one of the best westerns ever made, in part because it tells this great tale about cowboys without actually using any cowboys at all.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Director: Sergio Leone

Writer:  Luciano Vincenzoni, Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cliff

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10

Blondie, Angel Eyes, and Tuco have all been searching for a hidden treasure in the middle of nowhere. This movie features among the 100 best westerns of all time because it’s so different from everything that came before it. This film took spaghetti western to another level by introducing some incredible violence into its story along with an unforgettable cast of characters, constantly at each other’s throats.

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Director: Nicholas Ray

Writer: Philip Yordan, Frank S. Nugent, Edmund H. North

Cast: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

A saloon owner faces trouble from a local gangster and a corrupt preacher. This is a classic film about the struggles of being independent in this old west town, and it stands out from all the other westerns because there’s so much more going on here than just cowboys trying to get along with each other.

My Darling Clementine (1946)

Director: John Ford

Writer: Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller, Sam Hellman

Cast: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday meet up with the Clanton’s at the O.K. Corral, but that’s just one of several important events in this movie. It also tells an interesting tale about how different people tried to settle a town and what goes on behind closed doors when no one else is watching.

Forty Guns (1957)

Director: Samuel Fuller

Writer: Frank Gruber, Samuel Fuller

Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

A tough sheriff tries to keep his town safe from a powerful rancher who is looking for one of his gunslingers. This film takes a look at what happens when two people are forced into an uncomfortable situation where neither side can win without taking lives along the way. It’s amazing how relevant that statement still is today.

Shane (1953)

Director: George Stevens

Writer: A. B. Guthrie Jr., Jack Sher, Louis L’Amour

Cast: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

As a mysterious gunfighter befriends a homestead family, his past catches up with him. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it tells its story in such an incredible way. This film was so influential that you can find people today who are trying to mimic everything about what they’ve seen here.

High Noon (1952)

Director: Fred Zinnemann

Writer: John W. Cunningham, Carl Foreman

Cast: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

A retiring Marshall must deal with a vengeful criminal, as well as the fact that his new bride isn’t quite as willing to be there for him during this troubling time. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it does an incredible job at showing what happens when you try and do things all by yourself. Sometimes, people think they can take care of problems on their own without any help from others.

3:10 To Yuma (2007)

Director: James Mangold

Writer: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas

Cast: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

A poor rancher is forced to take on the dangerous job of escorting a captured outlaw to justice. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it challenges people to take a look at what they’re doing in their lives. Sometimes, people get so wrapped up in trying to solve problems that they forget why exactly they decided to do these things.

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)

Director: John Ford

Writer: Frank S. Nugent, Laurence Stallings, James Warner Bellah

Cast: John Wayne, Joanne Dru, John Agar

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

A retiring cavalry officer looks back on his career and tries to settle an old score with a former foe. This film was shot in Monument Valley (which makes for some incredible visuals), but that’s not the only reason people love everything about what they’re watching here. It’s a very interesting tale.

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Dead Man (1995)

Director: Jim Jarmusch

Writer: Jim Jarmusch, John N. Maclean

Cast: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Lance Henriksen

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Plot: A man’s body is stolen by two men after he dies in the desert. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it tells its story in such a unique way. This film was shot entirely on black-and-white 16mm, which gives everything about what they’re watching here an incredible look. It’s actually quite amazing how interesting people find all that is happening.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Director: Sergio Leone

Writer: Akira Kurosawa, Ryuzo Kikushima, Shigeru Kayama

Cast: Clint Eastwood , Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volonte

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

An amoral gunslinger plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes a look at what people must do to get by in life. This film was shot entirely in Italy, which gives everything about what they’re watching here an interesting feel.

7 Men From Now (1956)

Director: Budd Boetticher

Writer: Burt Kennedy, Charles Lang

Cast: Randolph Scott, Lee Marvin, Gail Russell

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

A sheriff tries to capture the men who killed his wife. 7 Men from Now is a movie that shows the lengths people will go to for revenge. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it tells a compelling story that keeps viewers on their toes. This film was also rated number 33 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills list, which means everyone can agree about how interesting it is.

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Winchester ’73 (1950)

Director: Anthony Mann

Writer: Borden Chase, Robert L. Richards, Stuart N. Lake

Cast: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

A gun-for-hire finds himself the target of every hired gun in the territory after he double-crosses a powerful man. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes an old idea and makes something new out of it. This film was also nominated for two Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks.

True Grit (2010)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Charles Portis

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

A young woman hires a drunken U.S. Marshal to help her track down the man who killed her father. This film was also nominated for ten Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks. It’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Director: Sergio Leone

Writer: Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella, Luciano Vincenzoni

Cast: Clint Eastwood , Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè

IMDb Rating: 8.2

A mysterious gunman joins a veteran bounty hunter on the trail of an outlaw who has stolen gold from some powerful people. This is the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for five Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks.

The Shooting (1966)

Director: Monte Hellman

Writer: Carole Eastman, Robert C. Jones

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Will Hutchins, Millie Perkins

IMDb Rating: 6.6/10

A drifter is offered money to join a man and his associate in a hunt for an outlaw who is hiding out with his sister. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for two Oscars, and it’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Director: William A. Wellman

Writer: Lamar Trotti, Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Cast: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn

IMDb Rating: 8.0/10

After hearing rumors of a lynch mob forming, three men ride into town to try and save an innocent man. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. Everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Sonia Chernus, Philip Kaufman, Forrest Carter

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

A man seeks revenge against several people who killed his family and left him for dead. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for six Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks.

Ride the High Country (1962)

Director: Sam Peckinpah

Writer: N. B. Stone Jr., Sam Peckinpah, Herb Meadow

Cast: Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley, Ron Starr

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

Two former lawmen are hired by a young woman to take her and another girl safely into town. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for two Oscars, and it’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

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Vera Cruz (1954)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Writer: A.I. Bezzerides, Harry Brown, Borden Chase

Cast: Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel, Cesar Romero

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Two mercenaries join the revolution in Mexico to fight Emperor Maximilian. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for three Oscars.

Bend of the River (1952)

Director: Anthony Mann

Writer: Borden Chase, A. B. Guthrie Jr.

Cast: James Stewart, Rock Hudson, Julie Adams, Rory Calhoun

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

When his family is murdered, a man joins up with some cattle thieves in order to get revenge. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect. This film was also nominated for three Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks. It’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

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A Bullet for the General (1966)

Director: Damiano Damiani

Writer: Sergio Donati, Tonino Guerra, Franco Solinas

Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Klaus Kinski , Martine Beswick, Lou Castel

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

An American gunslinger is hired by a Mexican general to stop peasant revolutionaries. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for two Oscars, and every movie fanatic can agree about how interesting everything here looks. This movie is remade as an American Indian language film.

The Magnificent ( Seven1960)

Director: John Sturges

Writer: William Roberts, Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni, Shinobu Hashimoto

Cast: Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner, James Coburn, Eli Wallach

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

A group of seven gunfighters defend a Mexican village against bandits. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. The magnificent film was also nominated for four Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks. It’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

Django (1966)

Director: Sergio Corbucci

Writer: Franco Rossetti, Piero Vivarelli, Giovanni Grimaldi

Cast: Franco Nero , Loredana Nusciak, José Bódalo, Ángel Alcázar

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

A coffin-dragging bounty hunter is on the trail of a ruthless gang. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for three Oscars, and it’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

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The Shootist (1976)

Director: Don Siegel

Writer: Miles Hood Swarthout, Glendon Swarthout

Cast: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, Ron Howard

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

An aging gunfighter reflects on his life and impending death. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. This film was also nominated for two Oscars, and any movie fanatic can agree that it’s a great movie. Everything here looks great, and it’s been remade as an American Indian language film.

The Tall T (1957)

Director: Budd Boetticher

Writer: Burt Kennedy, Jack Schaefer, Elmore Leonard

Cast: Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O’Sullivan

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

A former outlaw is forced to rescue his old gang from an ambush. What happens next? This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. Like other films, this film was also nominated for two Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting it is. It’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Director: Mel Brooks

Writer: Andrew Bergman, Norman Steinberg, Alan Uger, Charles Brackett, Hal B. Wallis Jr.

Cast: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn

IMDb Rating: 7.7/10

A black sheriff and a white outlaw form an unlikely partnership. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around; this film was also nominated for three Oscar. This means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks. Furthermore, it’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

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

Director: Andrew Dominik

Writer: Ron Hansen (book), Andrew Dominik, Jeremy Renner

Cast: Casey Affleck, Brad Pitt, Sam Rockwell

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

The story of Jesse James’ gang and the young man who joined them. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around. Like others, this film was also nominated for two Oscars. It’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

Little Big Man (1970)

Director: Arthur Penn

Writer: Calder Willingham, William Goldman, Thomas Berger

Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Martin Balsam

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

A white boy raised by Indians who becomes a hero to the Cheyenne. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around; this film was also nominated for three Oscars, and it’s even been remade as an American Indian language film. Make sure you watch this fascinating movie.

The Left Handed Gun (1958)

Director: Arthur Penn

Writer: Leslie Stevens, Gore Vidal

Cast: Paul Newman, John Dehner, Lita Milan, Kevin McCarthy

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

A fictionalized account of the life of Billy the Kid. This is among the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect. This film was also nominated for two Oscars, which means everyone who watches it can agree about how interesting it is. Like other famous movies, it’s remade as an American Indian language film.

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

Director: Marlon Brando

Writer: Charles Neider, Calder Willingham, Sam Peckinpah

Cast: Karl Malden , Pina Pellicer, Ben Johnson

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

A former outlaw is captured and imprisoned by his old gang, who force him to participate in a bank robbery. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around; this film was also nominated for two Oscars, which means everyone can agree about how interesting everything here looks. It’s even been remade as an American Indian language film.

Day of Anger (1967)

Director: Tonino Valerii

Writer: Sergio Donati, Giulio Questi , Duccio Tessari, Ennio De Concini

Cast: Lee Van Cleef , Giuliano Gemma, Klaus Kinski

IMDb Rating: 7.1

A mysterious gunman enters a desolate town in search of his old enemies. This is one of the best westerns ever made because it takes what audiences expect and flips things around; this film was also nominated for two Oscars, and everyone can agree about how interesting it is and how everything looks. The movie has been remade as an American Indian language film.

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Conclusion:

As you can see from this list, there are so many free western movies out there, and this list barely scratches the surface. With such a rich history of films to choose from, it’s no wonder that people love watching these movies today. Ensure you watch the best western movies of all time to understand why they are the best. Sign up today to stream the movies at the comfort of your home.

Joshua Garner

Joshua calls himself nerd+geek who is also passionate about football. He enjoys comics, animes, and science fiction. He finds his comfort in writing about suspense, thrillers and science fiction shows and movies.

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