Special Report

John Wayne’s Best Movies, Ranked

One of Hollywood’s all-time leading men, John Wayne is most associated with the stoic man archetype. The iconic actor’s most memorable performances are of strong but reserved cowboys or soldiers.

Wayne was among the top box office draws for much of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1970s, starring in more than 100 movies. As American author Garry Wills wrote about Wayne, “He embodies the American myth,” explaining that the archetypal American is a person with a difficult past, fearless and on the move, turning his life around to become successful and feared by others.

To identify Wayne’s best movies, 24/7 Tempo reviewed all the movies Wayne was in and ranked them on their combined scores. Combined scores are an index of each movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score.

Wayne is one of few actors not only to have enjoyed a long career in Hollywood but to have starred in several movies that continue to be praised by critics, even though they were released decades ago when the standards for making movies were different. These are the 76 movies with a perfect score from critics.

Wayne is a Hollywood legend. He died more than three decades ago, but in 2016 Wayne was No. 1 on the Most Patriotic Brands list by Brand Keys, a brand research consultancy. Wayne may have a place well beyond that as the top “person” brand in recent American history. Consumers ages 16 to 65 were included in the poll.

Click here for John Wayne’s best movies, ranked

Methodology

To identify John Wayne’s best movies, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and selected all of the movies Wayne was in and ranked them on their combined scores. Combined scores are an index of each movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Casting and directing data comes from IMDb, and domestic box office figures come from industry website The Numbers, which is up to date as of April 2021. Box office figures are not inflation adjusted.