The movie era of classic Westerns probably began with John Wayne’s breakout role in “Stagecoach” (1939). Wayne made it with director John Ford, who would team with Wayne for several other movies. Ford eventually won four Oscars for Best Director. Wayne went on to become the greatest Western star of all time.
The classic Western era probably ended with “Unforgiven” (1992). The film was directed by Clint Eastwood. He also played the lead role of William Munny. The movie won Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture. Interestingly, if Wayne has a challenger for greatest Western movie actor, it is Eastwood.
Streaming has changed the face of how movies are viewed. It did not emerge as a medium until about 15 years ago, when both Amazon and Netflix each launched a service. Between them, they have over 300 million paid subscribers worldwide. Streaming has badly damaged the medium were classic Westerns were first viewed–the American movie theater.
Sometimes, we like to watch inferior films because they star some of our favorite performers — for instance, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, or Jack Nicholson. Or they might be the interestingly flawed work of notable directors like John Ford or John Huston.
Another possible reason to watch them is that they might have taken risks and dealt with controversial subjects, even if they didn’t do it very well. And the older examples can function as time capsules from earlier eras, giving us a look into the norms and attitudes of the past.
To determine the worst classic Western available to stream from home, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of November 2021. All ratings were weighted equally. Only 20th-century movies with the “Western” genre classification on IMDb and at least 2,500 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes were considered.
We included only films available on the paid streaming services HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Philo, Paramount+, Hulu Plus, Apple TV, the Criterion Channel, and Fubo TV, or on the free streaming services Tubi, Pluto TV, Peacock, Plex, Crackle, IMDbTV, and Vudu Free. Data on streaming availability by website came from streaming data site Reelgood, and up-to-date as of November 2021.
The worst classic Western to stream right now is Return of the Seven (1966). Here are the details:
> Available on: Tubi, Pluto TV
> IMDb Rating: 5.5/10 (4,122 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 34% (4,238 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 13% (8 reviews)
> Director: Burt Kennedy
“The Magnificent Seven” is considered a Western classic and has been selected for the U.S. National Film Registry under the Library of Congress. With this sequel, which premiered six years after the first film with most of its original all-star cast, the apple fell far from the tree. In this one, Chico, one of the original seven, is captured in the desert by a large group of gunmen. His wife reaches out to his old compatriots for help, leading them to reunite in their quest to save their former partner. One critic called it “another worthless and useless sequel.”