Country music and Western films are connected at the hip. Not only does the musical style make up the soundtrack of a lot of them, but the popularity of the films actually helped spread the genre when it was much younger. But, to help choose from so many options, here is our list of 10 movies that need to be on the lists of all cowboys and cowgirls!
This 1966 hit starring Clint Eastwood was one of the popular Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone. It was part of a trilogy made by this director, but is often regarded as the best in the series. The story followed three rough guys searching for hidden gold in the middle of the Civil War, so there was plenty of chances for them to show their tough sides. It really stood out for the strong tension, tasteful violence, and quality gunfights.
There were hundreds of Westerns made in Europe between the 60s and the 80s, and Italy was really a hotspot for them. Interestingly enough, they often used multilingual casts, and they did all of the sound in post-production. This made it easy for them to release each film in multiple languages at nearly the same time.
This film made in 1969 followed an outlaw gang on the border of Texas and Mexico. The major problem they faced was that it took place in 1913, and the Old West was becoming a thing of the past. The filmmakers received a whole slew of awards for the movie, and it was filmed in a revolutionary way for the time. Fast cuts in the edits gave way to multiple angles, and it came to life with a mixture of normal and slow motion images.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford inspired many duos to daydream of living the bandit life with this 1969 movie. It’s made even more exciting when you know that it was based loosely off of real life, and the gang even made their way to Bolivia while running from the law.
No list of Western films would be complete without an appearance by the Duke, so why not choose the one where he won the Academy Award for Best Actor? The film is based off a novel written in 1968, and John Wayne plays a U.S. Marshal who has what it takes to track a bad guy across some unforgiving territory.
This was another film in the long career of Clint Eastwood, and this time he plays an outlaw who comes out of a peaceful farming retirement to go back to the rough life of his youth. The 1992 film had a much darker theme than most Westerns, and it tried to step away from the standard style of romanticizing the violence of the Old West. Eastwood even declared it would be his last Western because he feared any more would require him to repeat a role he had already played.
This film from 1960 made sure to put an all-star cast, like Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson into their cowboy boots. It was about a band of gunslingers who had to protect a Mexican village from outlaws, and it was based off of a similar Japanese movie called Seven Samurai. A sequel to this film will come out later this year, do you think it’s going to be as good?
This one is a bit older as it dates back to 1952. The plot basically follows a lawman who wants to retire to an easy life, but some recently free bandits decide they have other plans for him. With no one to help, he falls into the lone gunslinger role, and, well, you can guess the rest.
Another older flick that dates back to 1968, the genre of this film is described as an ‘epic spaghetti western film.’ While the movie does move a bit slow, it’s very stylish and artsy which is not common among many top western movies. This was also directed by the infamous Sergio Leone. This movie is about blood, revenge, and the American frontier.
Who says a Western has to be decades old to be a classic? This 2007 hit stars Christian Bale battling Russel Crowe, and they did a good enough job that most critics overlooked the fact that the film was a remake.
If you ever had any doubts that a Western made mostly with subtitles wouldn’t work, this one proved you wrong. As a matter of fact, Kevin Costner and company impressed so many people with this 1990 film that it’s often credited as giving a second chance to the fading genre of Western movies.
We can’t possibly narrow the best western films down to just ten. We tried, but there are far too many…
What’s your favorite Western?
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