Special Report

Best Classic Westerns Available to Stream from Home

Most early Westerns involved similar characters and themes — lone gunslingers, conflicted sheriffs, disaffected Civil War vets, battles over grazing land, conflicts with Indians (almost always depicted as cruel savages), quests for revenge, climactic showdowns…. (Not surprisingly, Westerns are among the best revenge movies of all time.)

Over the years, however, the genre evolved considerably, often raising complex moral questions and introducing antiheros and tough situations where even the good guys do bad things.

The Wild West continues to fascinate with its sprawling landscapes and seemingly unlimited possibilities for unchecked violence and do-it-yourself justice. All sorts of tough and hardy individuals tried to survive in a place and time where the line between good and evil often didn’t really exist or really matter.

Dramatic representations of these times — Westerns — started as a literary genre in the late 1800s and began to become popular on the movie screen as early as the silent film era. They are considered to have been the most popular movie genre, at least in America, throughout the first half of the 20th century — and have seen something of a revival in recent decades.

While new movie Westerns continue to appear (“Cry Macho” and “The Power of the Dog” are two recent examples), many classics of the 20th century are currently available to stream. (For more current examples, see our list of the best Westerns of the 21st century.)

Click here to see the best classic Westerns available to stream from home

To determine the best of these, 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.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

25. Vera Cruz (1954)
> Available on: Tubi
> IMDb Rating: 7.1/10 (9,620 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 71% (2,090 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 85% (13 reviews)
> Director: Robert Aldrich

“Vera Cruz” broke the mold by portraying amoral and ruthless characters that didn’t care much who got hurt along their way to riches. The film stars Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster as two mercenaries who are recruited to assist the emperor of Mexico during the French-Mexican War. They are tasked with escorting a countess to Veracruz for $50,000. However, they quickly learn they are transporting much more than they bargained for.

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

24. The Mark of Zorro (1920)
> Available on: Tubi, Paramount+
> IMDb Rating: 7.1/10 (2,411 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 71% (4,991 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (9 reviews)
> Director: Fred Niblo

The first of many movies to feature masked hero, Zorro, “The Mark of Zorro” was a massively successful silent film. The film is based on the 1919 novel “Curse of Capistrano” by Johnston McCulley, which first introduced the character. Don Diego Vega is the son of a wealthy rancher in Spanish California in the early 1800s. After witnessing the harsh treatment of local peasants by the ruling landowners he decides to take matters into his own hands and sets out to be a Robin Hood figure who holds the powerful accountable.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

23. Broken Arrow (1950)
> Available on: Tubi
> IMDb Rating: 7.2/10 (8,233 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 70% (1,036 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (9 reviews)
> Director: Delmer Daves

Traditional Western films often portrayed Native Americans as villains and savages. “Broken Arrow” was one of the first to depict their struggle against the ever-expanding United States somewhat sympathetically. Tom Jeffords is an army scout who comes across an Apache teenager dying from gunshot wounds. He helps the teen survive and eventually gains a little trust from other Apaches. Jeffords quickly becomes entangled in the deadly conflict between a local band of Apaches and white settlers.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

22. Bad Company (1972)
> Available on: Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Paramount+
> IMDb Rating: 7/10 (3,972 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 71% (2,300 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (12 reviews)
> Director: Robert Benton

“Bad Company” stars Barry Brown and Jeff Bridges as young men who head west to flee the Civil War draft. The two, along with a small gang, become petty criminals as they try to survive in the difficult landscape. However, they quickly realize that being a Western outlaw is a lot more difficult than it seems and requires one to disregard any morals. The film deconstructs several of the popular stereotypes and themes of the genre.

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

21. Man of the West (1958)
> Available on: Tubi
> IMDb Rating: 7.1/10 (7,503 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 77% (906 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (15 reviews)
> Director: Anthony Mann

In this film, Gary Cooper plays LInk Jones, a former outlaw who has gone straight. As you might imagine, fate has a different plan for him. Jones is traveling by train to Fort Worth to find a schoolteacher for his small town when the train is set upon by armed robbers. The train gets away but Jones and a few other men are left behind in the wilderness. They walk until they arrive at a place Jones used to live, and where his old life is still waiting for him.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

20. Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
> Available on: Criterion Channel
> IMDb Rating: 7.3/10 (7,222 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (1,646 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (11 reviews)
> Director: John Sturges

“The Last Train from Gun Hill” stars Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn as two old friends who have taken different paths in life. Matt Morgan (Douglas) has become a U.S. Marshall living in a small town with his wife and son while Craig Belden (Quinn) has become a wealthy cattle rancher who runs the town of Gun Hill. Morgan’s world is shattered when two young cowboys rаpe and murder his wife. His son escapes the attack on one of the cowboys’ horses, bringing with him a unique saddle that leads Morgan to Gun Hill.

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

19. True Grit (1969)
> Available on: Hulu Plus, Paramount+
> IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 (45,503 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84% (26,192 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (55 reviews)
> Director: Henry Hathaway

Starring John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby, “True Grit” tells a story of revenge and justice. Mattie Ross’s father is murdered, and she sets out to track down the man who did it. She enlists the services of volatile U.S. marshal Rueben “Rooster” Cogburn, and the pair are joined by a Texas Ranger. They begin to track their adversary across the vast American West, unraveling a web of crime and treachery.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

18. Hud (1963)
> Available on: Amazon Prime
> IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 (20,859 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (8,455 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 83% (30 reviews)
> Director: Martin Ritt

“Hud” is a Western that isn’t drenched in blood but instead focuses on the struggle involved in scraping out a living as a rancher in a desolate land. Hud Bannon, played by Paul Newman, is an overly confident young man who lives on a ranch with his family. He constantly clashes with his father and serves as a role model of sorts for his younger nephew. Crisis erupts on the ranch when cattle start dying from disease and father and son must make tough decisions.

Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

17. Dances with Wolves (1990)
> Available on: Netflix, Fubo TV, Amazon Prime
> IMDb Rating: 8/10 (250,448 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 87% (213,805 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 83% (76 reviews)
> Director: Kevin Costner

“Dances with Wolves”” is a Western epic starring Kevin Costner as a Union Army soldier during the Civil War. In 1865, John Dunbar (Costner), is almost killed in battle after a suicidal charge at Confederate troops. After his brush with death, he asks for a transfer to the Western frontier. In his new post he is deeply isolated from the rest of the military and begins a relationship with a local Native American tribe.

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

16. Shenandoah (1965)
> Available on: Tubi
> IMDb Rating: 7.3/10 (8,351 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (6,128 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (6 reviews)
> Director: Andrew V. McLaglen

“Shenandoah” is a Civil War movie that shows how damaging war can be for everyone. Patriarch Charlie Andersen has six sons and a daughter wholive on the family farm in Virginia. As the war begins to creep closer to their home, some of the sons want to join the cause. However, Charlie refuses to let them go, saying they will only fight if the war comes to their doorstep. Soon the family is caught up in the conflict as it unleashes violence on the land.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

15. The Harvey Girls (1946)
> Available on: HBO Max
> IMDb Rating: 7.1/10 (3,858 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (5,706 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (12 reviews)
> Director: George Sidney

In 1876, Fred Harvey founded the Harvey House chain of restaurants and hotels along railroad routes in the American West. “The Harvey Girls” is a fictionalized account of the lives of some of the women that worked in these establishments. The film is a musical set in the 1890s that follows a group of women who are new waitresses at Harvey House restaurants in Arizona. When they arrive, they are quickly thrown into a world of conflict and love.

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

14. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
> Available on: Criterion Channel
> IMDb Rating: 7.6/10 (8,684 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (1,135 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (14 reviews)
> Director: David Miller

“Lonely Are the Brave” is an adaptation of the 1956 novel “The Brave Cowboy” by Edward Abbey. The movie is set in the 1950s but plays on themes of classic Westerns. Jack Burns is a nomadic Korean War veteran who roams the West, working as a ranch hand and doing his best to stay away from modern society. The film follows Burns as he idolizes the freedoms of past times and tries to remain a free spirit. However, he runs into trouble with society and must make some tough decisions.

Source: Courtesy of Republic Pictures

13. Johnny Guitar (1954)
> Available on: Amazon Prime, Paramount+
> IMDb Rating: 7.6/10 (16,647 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (3,605 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (46 reviews)
> Director: Nicholas Ray

In a small Arizona cattle town, Vienna runs a saloon and is constantly at odds with most of the town folks. She supports a planned railroad and lets a suspected outlaw drink at her tavern. The locals grow sick of her and decide to run her out of town but a mysterious man known as Johnny Guitar comes to her aid. However, the townspeople are far from satisfied, and the conflict only escalates from there.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

12. Shane (1953)
> Available on: Hulu Plus, Paramount+
> IMDb Rating: 7.6/10 (38,919 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (15,575 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (36 reviews)
> Director: George Stevens

A mysterious gunslinger named Shane wanders the land, eventually arriving at a far-flung valley in Wyoming Territory. All seems fine at first, but he soon learns that a powerful cattle baron is trying to scare off smaller ranchers and farmers. Shane keeps a cool head and avoids the conflict until the baron’s men draw him into it. The movie tells the tale of life on the frontier and how justice was often left in the hands of settlers.

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

11. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
> Available on: Tubi, Pluto TV
> IMDb Rating: 7.7/10 (91,371 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 88% (54,058 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 89% (44 reviews)
> Director: John Sturges

“The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of Akira Kurasawa’s classic 1954 Japanese film “Seven Samurai.” The setting was changed to the Wild West, but the core plot ideas were kept. The movie has an all-star cast of big names of the era like Steven McQueen, Yul Brynner, and Eli Wallach. Mexican villagers, reeling from continuous attacks by bandits, cross the border looking for assistance. A local gunslinger agrees to help and rounds up a gang to assist him.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

10. The Tall T (1957)
> Available on: Tubi
> IMDb Rating: 7.3/10 (4,829 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84% (611 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (5 reviews)
> Director: Budd Boetticher

Pat Brennan is just another man trying to make it on the frontier. He foolishly gambles his horse away at a local ranch and is forced to walk back to town. A stagecoach offers to give him a lift and inside he meets two newlyweds, one of whom is the daughter of the richest man in the state. When they arrive at the station men attempt to rob the coach. To stop the men from killing the passengers, the husband suggests they ransom his heiress wife, and the entire group is thrown into peril.

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

9. Blazing Saddles (1974)
> Available on: HBO Max
> IMDb Rating: 7.7/10 (131,541 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (218,474 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 88% (59 reviews)
> Director: Mel Brooks

“Blazing Saddles” is Mel Brooks’s irreverent black comedy satire on Western movies. The movie spoofs on all sorts of overplayed Western characters and themes while also laying bare racism in America. As the railroad expands West, a diabolical territory lawyer plots to run residents out of their town and claim it for himself, knowing its value will shoot up from a planned railway. After killing the town sheriff, he convinces the governor to appoint a black sheriff to drive the townsfolk crazy. However, Bart, the newly appointed sheriff, has more than a few tricks up his sleeve.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

8. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
> Available on: Netflix
> IMDb Rating: 7.8/10 (69,738 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (46,848 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (41 reviews)
> Director: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood directs and stars as Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer whose family was massacred by Union soldiers during the Civil War. He joins a Confederate militia to exact revenge and gains a vicious reputation during the war. After the war’s end the rest of the members of Wales’s group surrender only to be massacred. Bounty hunters continue to pursue Wales himself as he heads west to try and outrun them.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

7. Stagecoach (1939)
> Available on: Tubi, Pluto TV, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Criterion Channel
> IMDb Rating: 7.9/10 (46,215 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (14,658 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (45 reviews)
> Director: John Ford

The Ringo Kid in “Stagecoach” was John Wayne’s breakout role. The Kid has broken out of jail and is out for revenge after hearing that his father and brother were murdered. Meanwhile, a motley group of travelers, including a prostitute, a drunk doctor, and a marshal, board a stagecoach headed from Arizona to New Mexico. Along the way they stumble upon the stranded Ringo Kid and pick him up. Meanwhile, they learn that Geronimo and his Apache warriors are out for settler blood.

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

6. The Gunfighter (1950)
> Available on: Tubi
> IMDb Rating: 7.7/10 (10,510 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (1,321 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (14 reviews)
> Director: Henry King

Jimmy Ringo is infamous as one of the greatest gunslingers in the West, which leads ambitious young gunslingers to constantly challenge him. He leaves a young cowboy named Eddie dead in the dirt after Eddie tries him, prompting Eddie’s brothers to seek out revenge and follow him out of town. Meanwhile, Ringo is trying to go straight and be a good father and husband to his estranged family. However, the violent world around him isn’t eager to let him go so easily.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

5. High Noon (1952)
> Available on: Pluto TV, Amazon Prime
> IMDb Rating: 8/10 (100,798 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (25,494 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (58 reviews)
> Director: Fred Zinnemann

Another Western starring Gary Cooper, “High Noon” broke the mold of what a Western was and could be. Previously, Westerns were usually packed with gunfights and chase scenes. “High Noon” follows Marshal Will Kane, who must either face a gang of killers alone or flee with his wife. Instead of nonstop shootouts, “High Noon” focuses on dialogue and moral questions of duty versus survival as the lawman scours the town looking for some backup in the impending showdown.

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

4. Unforgiven (1992)
> Available on: HBO Max
> IMDb Rating: 8.2/10 (391,927 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (122,861 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (106 reviews)
> Director: Clint Eastwood

“Unforgiven” was part of the revival in popularity of Westerns during the 1990s. The film won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Clint Eastwood. Eastwood also starred as former outlaw Will Munny. Two cowboys slash a prostitute’s face, setting off a chain of events that drags Munny back into a life of violence. The local sheriff makes the cowboys turn over some horses to the brothel owner as payment. However, the brothel’s employees aren’t satisfied and put a $1,000 bounty on the offenders’ heads.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

3. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
> Available on: Criterion Channel
> IMDb Rating: 8.2/10 (119,669 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 93% (26,178 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 100% (52 reviews)
> Director: John Huston

Based on the B. Traven novel of the same name, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” follows two men who team up with an old prospector on a quest to find gold in Mexico. They head off into the Sierra Madre Mountains, arduously traversing the harsh terrain for days. Their fortunes begin to look up, but distrust and greed quickly set in. Humphrey Bogart stars in this classic.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
> Available on: Hulu Plus, Paramount+
> IMDb Rating: 8.5/10 (314,446 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (65,906 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (65 reviews)
> Director: Sergio Leone

Sergio Leone’s Western epic is a tale of moral ambiguity and harsh living on the frontier. The film tells the interwoven stories of a land conflict over a new railroad and a quest for revenge against a feared local outlaw. A mysterious gunslinger and his harmonica arrive in the windswept, wayward town of Flagstone and things quickly get interesting. The film was originally a flop at the box office after studio executives cut out key scenes to reduce runtime. However, it’s now restored and is available to watch at its intended length.

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
> Available on: HBO Max
> IMDb Rating: 8.8/10 (718,036 reviews)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (239,989 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 97% (77 reviews)
> Director: Sergio Leone

One of the most famous Westerns of all-time, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is another Sergio Leone epic, this one following three gunslingers who are as similar as they are different. All three are on the hunt for stolen Confederate gold as frontier battles of the Civil War rage around them. They must navigate their treacherous world and their relationships with each other as they race to the hidden cache. The film is acclaimed for its beautiful cinematography, haunting music, and masterfully built tension.

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