Just as westerns were a staple of television, they were among the earliest movies. In fact one of the very first movies was The Great Train Robbery, an 11-minute film that wowed audiences in 1903.
Over the decades certain names have become synonymous with western movies: John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart, Clint Eastwood, Henry Fonda, director John Ford, writers Louis L’Amour and Larry McMurtry. Today Sam Elliott and Kevin Costner are probably the actors most associated with the genre. No matter when the films were made, the overall theme of one person or one group of people fighting others -- or even the elements – makes for exciting entertainment.
My personal favorite is High Noon , a tense, “real-time” film starring Gary Cooper as a retired marshal and Grace Kelly as his new bride. On their wedding day, Cooper learns he must fight for his life against a man out for vengeance. I’m also a big fan of The Searchers , The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance , Fort Apache , Destry Rides Again , and Silverado .
If it’s been a while since you sat down to watch a western or if that’s your go-to choice for a great movie – or if you’ve never really explore the movie western, browse through the list of films below, as well as other films starring these actors. I hope you’ll find something you’ll enjoy – and perhaps add a title to your own list of favorites.
John Wayne  – The Cowboys; Fort Apache; Hondo; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; McLintock; Red River; The Searchers; The Shootist; Stagecoach (1939); True Grit (1969)
Gary Cooper  -- Dallas; Fighting Caravans; High Noon; The Plainsman; Springfield Rifle; Vera Cruz
James Stewart  -- Broken Arrow; Destry Rides Again; The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; Winchester ‘73
Clint Eastwood  -- A Fistful of Dollars; For a Few Dollars More; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Unforgiven
Henry Fonda  -- Fort Apache; My Darling Clementine; The Ox Bow Incident
Sam Elliott  -- Buffalo Girls; The Quick and the Dead;The Sacketts; The Shadow Riders; Tombstone
Kevin Costner  -- Dances with Wolves; Open Range; Silverado; Wyatt Earp
Others films featuring actors who can certainly hold their own in the western genre:
The Big Country  (Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston)
Cheyenne Autumn  (Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker)
Ride the High Country  (Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott)
Shane  (Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Jack Palance)
Support Your Local Sheriff (James Garner, Jack Elam, Joan Hackett, Harry Morgan)
True Grit (2010)  (Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper)
The Wild Bunch  (William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan)