Special Report

30 Best Western Films of All Time

Tim Emmerick

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

15. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
> Directed by: George Roy Hill
> Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross

Paul Newman and Robert Redford star as true-life outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in director George Roy Hill’s 1969 film of the same. In the Western classic, the pair flee to Bolivia after a failed train robbery attempt. Lula Parker Betenson, Cassidy’s sister, visited the set during production and claimed that Butch faked his death in Bolivia and returned to live out his life in the United States.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

14. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
> Directed by: Robert Altman
> Starring: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois

Warren Beatty stars opposite Julie Christie in Robert Altman’s 1971 offering “McCabe & Mrs. Miller.” The pair team up to open a successful brothel in Washington state until they butt heads with a mining operation. Altman intentionally avoided Western tropes in the picture and even referred to this as an “anti-Western.”

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

13. Rio Bravo (1959)
> Directed by: Howard Hawks
> Starring: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson

“Rio Bravo” notches another entry for John Wayne in our 30 Best Western Films list. In this one Wayne plays a sheriff charged with detaining a murderer, also the brother of a powerful businessman, for several days until a U.S. marshal arrives with backup. Dean Martin co-stars as Wayne’s newly sober ex-deputy.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

12. My Darling Clementine (1946)
> Directed by: John Ford
> Starring: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature

Henry Fonda stars as Wyatt Earp in the days leading up to the famed showdown at the O.K. Corral in this 1946 film. Director John Ford met Wyatt Earp while working on silent film sets in his youth and claimed that the legend personally recounted the battle of the O.K. Corral for him during coffee breaks.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

11. Red River (1948)
> Directed by: Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson
> Starring: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru

“Red River” director Howard Hawks worked briefly with Howard Hughes on “The Outlaw” in 1940. Hughes filed injunctions to stop the premier of “Red River” in 1948. Hughes claimed Hawks copied sections of a gun fight scene between John Wayne’s character Thomas Dunson and Montgomery Clift’s Matt Garth. Wayne plays Clift’s stepfather in the film and the pair square off during a cattle drive.