The Western genre is often celebrated for landmark cinema classics like “The Good, the Bad and The Ugly” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” But not all movies, of course, are good ones, and that applies to Westerns just like anything else. (Western and otherwise, these are the worst movies of all time.)
Many Westerns from across the 20th century, good and bad, are now available for streaming from home. But why watch the bad ones? Sometimes we might want something mediocre playing in the background just for company while we work or scroll social media. (Confused about the plot because you weren’t paying attention? Don’t worry, it wouldn’t have made sense anyway and it’s not going to matter in the end.)
Sometimes, too, 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. (Here are John Wayne’s best movies ranked.)
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 Westerns 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.