Special Report

This Is the Best John Wayne Movie That Isn't a Western

John Wayne, whose original name was Marion Robert Morrison, was known as The Duke — a tip of the hat to his place among Hollywood’s royalty. He appeared in nearly 180 movie and television productions, many of them Westerns. But the best movie Wayne starred in that’s not a Western is “The Quiet Man.”

Wayne was among the top 10 box office draws as an actor from 1949 until 1970, topping the list several times. He made some of the first iconic movie Westerns such as “Stagecoach” (1939) as well as the film critics believe may be the best Western, “The Searchers” (1956). “The Searchers” is on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best movies of all time. (Here are the best classic westerns available to stream from home.)

Despite his fame, he only won one Oscar as an actor, the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit” (1969).

Although Wayne is known almost exclusively for his work in Westerns, he made a number of films, some of which are classics, in roles outside the genre.

To identify the best movie Wayne has ever starred in that is not a Western, 24/7 Tempo reviewed his acting roles in movies listed on his Internet Movie Database actor filmography page and selected the ones that are not Westerns. The movies are ranked by their combined score — the movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Movie scores were also compared to the scores of over 17,000 movies. Genre and casting information come from IMDb.

Of all the movies Wayne made that are not Westerns, many are war movies. The same qualities that made him an ideal gunslinger, cowboy, or sheriff in the Old West (toughness, leadership and a willingness to sacrifice) also made Wayne a believable soldier, captain, or general. Also like many of his Westerns, a number of Wayne’s war films were critical and commercial smash hits and are hailed as classics today. (This is the best war movie of all time.)

The best movie Wayne starred in that’s not a Western is “The Quiet Man,” released in 1952. Here are some details:

— Combined score: 2.63 — #593 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
— Genres: Comedy, drama, romance
— Also starring: Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond

In “The Quiet Man,” Wayne plays retired American boxer Sean Thornton. Hoping to buy his father’s land, Thornton moves back to the Irish village where he was born. There, he falls in love with a fiery woman whose brother is against the union between her and Thornton.

Click here to see the best and worst John Wayne movies that aren’t Westerns