It’s a genre filled with some of the greatest movies ever made, and though Westerns aren’t as common coming out of Hollywood these days as they were in decades past, a good one can still find its way to audiences from time to time.
This weekend, the reboot of “The Magnificent Seven” (in theatres starting Friday) is worth your time if you’re nostalgic for epic gun battles and men on horseback.
And while we have you thinking about the ol’ West, we’ve put together a list of the 11 best Westerns of all time.
Take a look below:
Two years after 'Dances with Wolves' took home seven Oscars, including best picture, the Western was pretty much DOA. But thanks to Clint Eastwood, the genre got a shot in the arm as he starred and directed this somber look at an over-the-hill gunslinger (Eastwood) who takes one last job. The movie also includes great performances from Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman, who would win an Oscar for the role. Eastwood would also win the best director Oscar and the movie would take home best picture.
The original 'Magnificent Seven,' directed by John Sturges and based on the Akira Kurosawa classic 'Seven Samurai,' was a huge hit thanks to its big-name stars like Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen as guns-for-hire who are tasked with saving peasants from a gang. Then there's the iconic score created by Elmer Bernstein that is perhaps the greatest music ever placed in a Western.
Legends Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and Lee Marvin star in director John Ford's classic Western. Senator Ransom Stoddard (Stewart) returns home for the funeral of friend Tom Doniphon (Wayne), and while there, reveals to a reporter the truth about him killing outlaw Liberty Valance (Marvin) that made him famous. The movie included the famous line, 'This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.'
One of Eastwood's most iconic roles (in the Western genre), he stars and directs this Civil War-set Western that follows a Missouri farmer who, after the murder of his wife and son, becomes a notorious outlaw on the run from bounty hunters and Union solders.
It's the Spaghetti Western that made Eastwood's career. Playing gunslinger Blonde, he reluctantly joins forces with two other con men (played by Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef) as they go in search for buried gold at the height of the Civil War. The movie is also known for its unique theme music, created by Ennio Morricone.
Arguably the last great Western made, director Andrew Dominik gives a haunting look at the final year in the life of outlaw Jesse James (Pitt) and the infamy that followed the man who killed him, Robert Ford (Casey Affleck).
Starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, Cooper would win a best actor Oscar for his performance as a Marshall whose town deserts him when word spreads that a gang of killers are coming for him on the noon train.
Director Sam Peckinpah's ultra-violent classic stars William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, and William Oates as ageing outlaws who are out for one last score before the old West that they grew up in disappears forever. It includes one of the best (and bloodiest) finale's you'll ever see in a Western.
Winner of four Oscars, the movie is known best for showcasing the incredible chemistry between leads Paul Newman and Robert Redford, who play two bank robbers on the run.
Regarded as one of John Ford's greatest Westerns (and to some, one of the greatest movies ever made), John Wayne plays a Civil War veteran who spends years searching for his abducted niece (played by Natalie Wood).
Sergio Leone's masterpiece has everything that we love about Westerns and elevated thanks to his unique hallmarks, which include tight camera shots of his characters and incredible gunfights. Charles Bronson is the harmonica-playing gunman and, against type, Henry Fonda is the villain. Rich in long shots and beautiful cinematography, if you love Westerns there's no other movie that immerses you more into the genre.
It's hard to not mention 'Blazing Saddles' (1974) when talking about Westerns. The movie is Mel Brooks at his best. Robert Altman making a Western is different than anything in the genre, and 'McCabe & Mrs. Miller' (1971) is the proof. John Wayne and Dean Martin are great in 'Rio Bravo' (1959). The loner mentality was pretty much created with the release of 'Shane' (1953). 'Silverado' (1985) is 1980s-era Hollywood trying to make a Western, and it does a pretty good job. Perhaps one of the most underrated Westerns, there are a lot of things to love about 'Tombstone' (1993) -- particularly Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday.
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