The 50 greatest westerns

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To celebrate the release of Kelly Reichardt's sublime 'Meek's Cutoff', the Time Out film team saddles up and counts down the 50 greatest westerns of all time. How many have you seen? Key to contributors: ALD = Adam Lee Davies, PF = Paul Fairclough, TH = Tom Huddleston, DJ = David Jenkins

50

The Hired Hand (1971)

Director: Peter Fonda
Cast involved: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Verna Bloom

Read more about 'The Hired Hand'

49

Lonesome Dove (1989)

Director: Simon Wincer
Cast involved: Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover

Read more about 'Lonesome Dove'

48

Open Range (2003)

Director: Kevin Costner
Cast involved: Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Annette Bening

Read more about 'Open Range'

47

The Claim (2000)

Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast involved: Peter Mullan, Milla Jovovich, Wes Bentley

Read more about 'The Claim'

46

Rancho Deluxe (1975)

Director: Frank Perry
Cast involved: Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston, Slim Pickens

Read more about 'Rancho Deluxe'

45

Meek's Cutoff (2010)

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Cast involved: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson

Read more about 'Meek's Cutoff'

44

Day of the Outlaw (1959)

Director: André de Toth
Cast involved: Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise

Read more about 'Day of the Outlaw'

43

The Missouri Breaks (1976)

Director: Arthur Penn
Cast involved: Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton

Read more about 'The Missouri Breaks'

42

Ulzana’s Raid (1972)

Director: Robert Aldrich
Cast involved: Burt Lancaster, Bruce Davison, Joaquín Martínez

Read more about 'Ulzana’s Raid'

41

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Director: Mel Brooks
Cast involved: Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeline Kahn

Read more about 'Blazing Saddles'

40

Wagon Master (1950)

Director: John Ford
Cast involved: Ben Johnson, Joanne Dru, Ward Bond

Read more about 'Wagon Master'

39

Requiescant (aka Kill and Pray) (1967)

Director: Carlo Lizzani
Cast involved: Lou Castel, Mark Damon, Pier Paolo Pasolini

Read more about 'Requiescant'

38

A Man Called Horse (1970)

Director: Elliot Silverstein
Cast involved: Richard Harris, Judith Anderson, James Gammon

Read more about 'A Man Called Horse'

37

Vera Cruz (1954)

Director: Robert Aldrich
Cast involved: Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel

Read more about 'Vera Cruz'

36

Little Big Man (1970)

Director: Arthur Penn
Cast involved: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George

Read more about 'Little Big Man'

35

Rancho Notorious (1952)

Director: Fritz Lang
Cast involved: Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy and Mel Ferrer

Read more about 'Rancho Notorious'

34

Ride the High Country (1962)

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Cast involved: Randolph Scott, Joel McRea, Ron Starr

Read more about 'Ride the High Country'

33

The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Director: John Sturges
Cast involved: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach et al

Read more about 'The Magnificent Seven'

32

The Great Silence (1968)

Director: Sergio Corbucci
Cast involved: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff

Read more about 'The Great Silence'

31

High Plains Drifter (1973)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast involved: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Mitch Ryan

Read more about 'High Plains Drifter'

30

7 Women (1966)

Director: John Ford
Cast involved: Anne Bancroft, Sue Lyon, Mildred Dunnock

Read more about '7 Women'

29

The Naked Spur (1953)

Director: Anthony Mann
Cast involved: James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan

Read more about 'The Naked Spur'

28

Rio Bravo (1959)

Director: Howard Hawks
Cast involved: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson

Read more about 'Rio Bravo'

27

The Ox-bow Incident (1943)

Director: William Wellman
Cast involved:  Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn

Read more about 'The Ox-bow Incident'

26

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Director: Sergio Leone
Cast involved: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale

Read more about 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

25

Django (1966)

Director: Sergio Corbucci
Cast involved: Franco Nero, José Bódalo, Loredana Nusciak

Read more about 'Django'

24

Shane (1953)

Director: George Stevens
Cast involved: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin

Read more about 'Shane'

23

Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford
Cast involved:  John Wayne, Claire Trevor

Read more about 'Stagecoach'

22

Seven Men From Now (1956)

Director: Budd Boetticher
Cast involved: Randolph Scott, Lee Marvin, Stuart Whitman

Read more about 'Seven Men From Now'

21

El Topo (1970)

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Cast involved: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Alfonso Arau

Read more about 'El Topo'

20

High Noon (1952)

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Cast involved: Gary Cooper, Lloyd Bridges, Grace Kelly

Read more about 'High Noon'

19

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

Director: Marlon Brando
Cast involved: Brando, Karl Malden, Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson

Read more about 'One-Eyed Jacks'

18

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast involved: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell

Read more about 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'

17

Red River (1948)

Director: Howard Hawks
Cast involved: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan

Read more about 'Red River'

16

Forty Guns (1957)

Director: Samuel Fuller
Cast involved: Barbara Stanwyck, Gene Barry, Robert Dix

Read more about 'Forty Guns'

15

Unforgiven (1992)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast involved: Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman

Read more about 'Unforgiven'

14

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Cast involved: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan

Read more about 'The Wild Bunch'

13

The Shooting (1968)

Director: Monte Hellman
Cast involved: Millie Perkins, Jack Nicholson, Warren Oates

Read more about 'The Shooting'

12

Heaven’s Gate (1980)

Director: Michael Cimino
Cast involved: Kris Kristofferson, Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert

Read more about 'Heaven’s Gate'

11

My Darling Clementine (1946)

Director: John Ford
Cast involved: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature

Read more about 'My Darling Clementine'

10

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Director: Sergio Leone
Cast involved: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

Read more about 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly'

9

Decision at Sundown (1957)

Director: Budd Boetticher
Cast involved: Randolph Scott, Noah Beery Jr, HM Wynant

Read more about 'Decision at Sundown'

8

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Director: Nicholas Ray
Cast involved: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge

Read more about 'Johnny Guitar'

7

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Director: John Ford
Cast involved: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles

Read more about 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'

6

Dead Man (1995)

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast involved: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover

Read more about 'Dead Man'

5

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast involved: Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sandra Locke

Read more about 'The Outlaw Josey Wales'

4

Winchester ’73 (1950)

Director: Anthony Mann
Cast involved: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea

Read more about 'Winchester ’73'

3

The Searchers (1956)

Director: John Ford
Cast involved: John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Natalie Wood

Read more about 'The Searchers'

2

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973)

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Cast involved: Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, Bob Dylan)

Read more about 'Pat Garrett'

1

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Director: Robert Altman
Cast involved: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois

Read more about 'McCabe & Mrs. Miller'



Users say

124 comments
Nicholas S
Nicholas S

Rex W,

You sound like a tenured, award-winning, full professor of film studies.

You’re so brilliant that you don’t understand the difference between “X,” and “depicting someone as ‘X.’”

But let’s stipulate, as they say in the lawyer shows, that The Searchers is racist. So, what? That’s not a criticism of it as a movie. That’s just your way of identifying yourself as a racial socialist, i.e., a racist!

If the movie had so many “flaws,” you’d have come up with examples.

The record shall reflect that Rex W hates whites.

Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

Nicholas S
Nicholas S

This is a list of the greatest Westerns by guys who hate Westerns—moron fodder click-bait by PC types who fancy they’re educated. Like you, the people who supported the list went to college to learn to be stupid. They give themselves away, when they denounce Western-lovers as slaves to some “canon.” Westerns aren’t about “canons,” they’re about cannons! Lovers of Westerns understand that.

And I’m not going to say it’s because you’re Englishmen. Some of my best friends are Englishmen. Heck, you guys probably don’t appreciate British culture, either.

Nicholas Stix, Uncensored

Rex W
Rex W

I wish people would STOP listing "The Searchers" as a great movie.  There are major flaws up and down the movie.  And the extremely racist theme is irresponsible.

Ben F
Ben F

What a load of NONSENSE. I've seen some bad lists but this is just the worst. A below average Brad Pitt vehicle above Leone's greatest work and one of the greatest films of any genre? Absurd.

Hunter Tremayne
Hunter Tremayne

Useless list. Dead Man at number 6 and no Tombstone? Who complied this list - a woman?

michael
michael

heavens gate was a disaster , meeks cut off was terrible 15 others on there that were average , seen them not worth seeing again , where is John Waynes El dorado , Maverick 1993 , James garner support your local sheriff , my name is nobody , Silverado , tomb stone , james stewart far country even Charles bronsons break heart pass was better then most on the list

billmarch
billmarch

I agree with Tom - this list is not even funny but rather an insult to the intelligence.

DocBenway
DocBenway

Fantastic list! My taste and the author's are obviously very much aligned, as Pat Garret and Billy the Kid is the film that made me love westerns, as did McCabe and Mrs. MIller. And there is so much I haven't seen as yet, so I'm using this list to hunt down more westerns, and I've referred to this list many times now.

tom
tom

This list is the work of complete morons who do not understand the genre.

m.
m.

THIS IS A VERY GOOD LIST !! Aldo i don't necessarily agree with the numerical order. But thats just a matter of opinion

Rob
Rob

Tombstone

SFA51
SFA51

No Tombstone?

SFA51
SFA51

What about Broken Trail? Anything staring Robert Duval is top drawer in my mind. Open Range may, in actuality, be the best of them all.

Tom Chance
Tom Chance

You left out SILVERADO and TOMBSTONE? Your number one selection is a joke.

Henry
Henry

Absurd, ludicrous. Shane at 24!? Unforgiven at 15!? I could go on and on ...

Emma
Emma

What about True Grit with John Wayne?

sam
sam

I agree with one of the other comments, your list is to stir controversy. To rate the Lonesome Dove series as 49th, well need I say more? If anyone actually reads this tripe, and wants to fee a part of a true western, you have to watch the whole series starting with Deadman’s Walk(when Cpt. Call and the boys are just teens ) then Commanche Moon(young adults) Lonesome Dove(as men) Return to Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laradeo. Yes, its made for TV, but so what. We share in there lives from young men to loss of life as time goes by, mirroring our own personal journey through life. Get the full series its worth watching.

68blues
68blues

The inclusion of Meeks Cutoff only reinforces the fact that the whole list is drivel!!!!!

MrGreenSuit
MrGreenSuit

The fact that you put "the Outlaw Josey wales" over "Good bad and the ugly" AND "Unforgiven" is proof of what a poor movie critic you are.

luke
luke

it is very very clear you have no idea what you are talking about.

Jeff Webster
Jeff Webster

Leaving aside the fact that at least one of the films in this list is not a western at all rating McCabe & Mrs Miller as number one is I suppose an attempt to be controversial . As John Carpenter once observed re Altman 'There's experimentation and there's stumbling around in the swamp." This film illustrates his point .

ron
ron

the good the and ugly remake hugh jackman as the good hugh laurie as the ugly sam worthington as the bad

Jim Jacobson
Jim Jacobson

My top fifteen: 1.the Good the bad and the ugly 2The great silence 3.A bullet for the general 4.Red river 5. The wild bunch 6.django 7.for a few dollars more 8.how the west was won 9.the searchers 10.the outlaw josey wales 11.100 rifles 12.hang em high 13.3:10 to Yuma (remake) 14.arizona colt 15.Unforgiven

Blake Jordy
Blake Jordy

the great silence! I'm happy to see it made 32 and the list in general. This is actually a rather great list. Yet I think the great silence should be one!

bob
bob

Once Upon a Time in the West at 26? That is absurd. In my mind it is the best of all time. There is no movie soundtrack more beautiful and perfectly fit to a film than Morricone's. Don't try to get edgy or fancy with your picks...give credit where it is due. Also, no Jeremiah Johnson or The Big Country? "I told you I'd shoot...but you didnt believe me!"

Asher Steinberg
Asher Steinberg

Your list is missing a top 5 Western, Canyon Passage, and another Tourneur that's nearly as good, Wichita.

Kelly Tretheway
Kelly Tretheway

This list mixes TV movies/miniseries with cinema and then mixes classic Westerns with films expressing decidedly modern sensibilities. Let's establish reasonable parameters. Let's not rate anything made on television, which with the possible exception of 'Lonesome Dove' merit very little consideration anyway. Then, let's accept basic cinematic Western history: Westerns with modern sensibilities began with 'The Wild Bunch.' Nevertheless, it is considered a classic of the Western genre. Modern and classic Westerns should not be compared because they offer different approaches to story telling especially regards their use of violence. Further, movies about the military are War films: Just because a film has horses doesn't make it a western (how can anyone compare Rio Grande with Red River? I won't . Finally, Comedies aren't Westerns. So, the top ten Westerns: 1. The Searchers. Any list not placing this film 1st is baseless. John Ford director, John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter stars. 2. The Wild Bunch. Sam Peckinpah director, William Holden, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine stars. 3. Once Upon a Time in the West. Sergio Leone director, Henry, Fonda, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards Jr, Claudia Cardinale stars. 4. Red River. Howard Hawks director, John Wayne, Montgomery Cliff, Walter Brennan stars. 5. Ride the High Country. Sam Peckinpah director, Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott stars. 6. Rio Bravo. Howard Hawks director, John Wayne, Dean Martin, Rickey Nelson, Walter Brennan stars. 7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. John Ford director, John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin stars. 8. The Professionals. Richard Brooks director, Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance stars. 9. My Darling Clementine. John Ford director, Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan, Victor Mature, Ward Bond, Tim Holt stars. 10. Shane and Stagecoach tied. Shane director George Stevens, Alan Ladd, Jack Palance, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin stars. Stagecoach director John Ford, John Wayne, Andy Devine, Thomas Mitchell, Clair Trevor, John Carradine stars. Arguably, the three greatest directors of the Western genre are John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Howard Hawks with Ford considered by most critics to be the finest director of the genre. If we wish to consider modern Westerns, then the list probably ought to begin with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and include Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Directors cut only), The Outlaw Jose Wales, Silverado, Tombstone, The Unforgiven, Quigley Down Under, and a couple of others.

Jim
Jim

Interesting list, but certainly a flawed one. While many on the list belong, I would certainly argue with the order. There also seems to be quite a few spaghetti westerns here as well. I would have liked to have seen some of the silents represented, The Great Train Robbery, Hell's Hinges, The Iron Horse, Tumbleweeds come to mind. And Johnny Depp's The Dead Man? Give me a break. I saw it and it was a horrible movie.

graham
graham

@micheal ,,i agree not a good list nor a bad one .. def a few missed and unforgiven should be within the top 10 but thats "my" opinion and i think thats the problem with this list the person who wrote it has listed "his" favs ...

Michael
Michael

The list isn't good, nor is it bad. I would agree that about 35-40 of the films on the list are really good westerns. The other 10-15 are arguable. Even worse are the films you didn't even mention. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Jeremiah Johnson, True Grit (2010), Tombstone, Silverado, The Big Country, They Died with Their Boots On, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, 3:10 to Yuma (remake), Hud, Hondo, Brokeback Mountain, A Fistful of Dollars, Cat Ballou, For a Few Dollars More, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood.

Harsh
Harsh

Seems like you had a lot of trouble coming up with 50 odd names already. Why don't you go and watch some more westerns, you might be able to put up a better list.

11222
11222

ODD ! DEFINITELY ODD!

Bill
Bill

A pathetic top 50,magnificent 7num 48? Rio bravo 28,ur mad,where's the horse soldiers,they died with their boots on,tombstone,she wore a yellow ribbon and the sons of Katie elder to name a few,as was said before"art house nonsense"

Ethan Edwards
Ethan Edwards

Hmm. I love Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, but only as a hipster classic; it is so much of its time it is laughable (and rather gives away the vintage of those who have compiled this list). To rate it so far above Butch Cassidy (with which it shares much) is simple snobbery ( a kind of Dylan is cooler than Sacha Distel sort of thing). And of course everyone who knows movies knows that The Searchers is not only the greatest of all Westerns but also one of the very greatest movies of all time, which no-one would ever claim for McCabe and Mrs Miller, however interesting a picture that minor classi is (and it is).

chris ball
chris ball

dare I suggest that William Wyler's 'The Big Country' ought to be there too - somewhere in the middle 30s? the time out list seems to rate the allegorical western and this is one big cold world allegory with magnificent performances - especially by Burl Ives that makes it close to biblical in tone. wonderful music, big landscapes and the Peck Heston fight ought to be in soem ones best of list. And let's not forget the naughty horse!

tyler
tyler

You forgot Jeremiah Johnson and Rooster Cogburn and the Lady. JJ speaks for itself. Rooster Cogburn and the Lady isn't the best Western, but it does show JW at his absolute best as an actor. Also they way they depicted how a man and a woman could get along has influenced me.

Tyler
Tyler

You forgot Jeremiah Johnson!!!

estafeta
estafeta

nothing from ford's cavalry trilogy? walter hill's geronimo or long riders? run of the arrow, last of the mohicans...

jacksonCfrank
jacksonCfrank

The biggest omissions for me are Man of the West and Go West - both classy films. A good list though and loads of magic therein. Any western nuts should get themselves down to the Exhibit cinema in Balham - some guys run a western film club down there every month called "guns in the afternoon" which is the alternate title to ride the high country - watched Johnny Guitar on the big screen last week and it certainly changed my opinion of it - Joan Crawford how she is meant to be seen - on the big screen in full colour!

Robert A
Robert A

Congratulations Time Out, for having the Courage to put McCabe and Mrs Miller, one of the most majestic films of all time, at the top of your list. Similar praise is heaped upon your filmic heads for inserting Jarmusch's Dead man in the top six. However, you are not getting away with out some criticism. Having the good taste to champion Altman's masterpiece (well he made several), you could have endeavored to apprais the film more accurately. McCabe never planned to open a brothel with Mrs Miller; in fact he initially pimped three prostitutes before Mrs Miller arrived with a wagonfull of loose ladies. McCabe then took some persuading before setting up business with Ms Miller. Similarly, the three gunmen sent by the company, were paid assassins not company stooges. Sent to kill hill him. The attempt to persuade McCabe to sell had been made earlier(unsuccesfully due to McCabe's poor bartering technique) by two company reps. Otherwise it is a reasonable synopsis, though possibly more could have been made of Altman's comment on the Western myth that McCabe's refusal to confirm or deny his gun-shooting prowess. Congratulations once again.

Gordon M
Gordon M

Ignore the last comments on the next submission. I forgot it was Westerns only.

Gordon M
Gordon M

This list is rubbish, like a lot of the films that are on it. Where was The Last Command, with Sterling Haydn, John Lee Hancock's film The Alamo, which surrendered without a fight in the cinema despite being a superb film far more historically acurate that John Wayne's version. Not a single sword and sandals epic such as El Cid, not a single Bible film like Barabbas.

Mark G
Mark G

@David J: that you all agree on how bad Butch & Sundance is totally disqualifies you from even thinking about writing this list. This strikes me as the top Westerns as compiled by people who don't even like them. Agree wholeheartedly with those who lament the exclusion of the aforementioned, True Grit (2010), Tombstone, The Proposition and Silverado. Also, Ride With The Devil and No Country For Old Men??

hipcheck
hipcheck

I read on in horror as I realized there was no way they would have included Silverado in the top 10, nor Butch Cassidy in the top 5... my god, what have they done??

Richard
Richard

This list is slightly different to the list I would have compiled. I am appauled (sic) and sickened to my stomach. You have placed A Man Called Horse at number 38 when it is patently the 37th best Western of all time. You people make me want to defecate.

Terry Maunder
Terry Maunder

Just as I was beginning to wonder where McCabe & Mrs Miller was in your list of Top 50 Westerns , I tentatively clicked on Number 1 and , lo & behold , there was my own personal favourite ! For once , I agree wholeheartedly with you Time Out Good to see Dead Man in there as well Terry Maunder

triani
triani

Weird list. Watched McCabe just the other week. Yes It's underrated, but that does not make it the best Western ever. Not even the best Altman ever. Can't argue with Pat Garrett, though Wild Bunch drives it close. Obviously some of the order of the pictures here are all over the place. And all Leone Westerns should be here, especially what I consider his most underrated masterpiece A Fistfull Of Dynamite/Duck You Sucker, now that's a radical Western!

Henry S
Henry S

@bob Once upon a time in the west is too far up its own arse to be higher than 26

The best of Western soundtracks

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