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30 Most Underrated Westerns You Need To Watch

One of Hollywood's oldest genres, Westerns were the hottest ticket in Tinseltown for decades before beginning to fall out of favor in the 1970s. In their heyday, they were the most popular and critically acclaimed films, with some of the most celebrated movies of the '40s, '50s, and '60s being cowboy adventures. Some of the biggest movie stars of the day were Western heroes like John Wayne, James Stewart, and Gary Cooper. Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen came later.

From "The Wild Bunch" and "The Searchers" through to "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," the most heralded Westerns have become some of the most famous movies ever made. But for every "High Noon," there are dozens more that are nearly as good, but never seem to get the attention and recognition they deserve. They may get critical accolades and be talked about in film classes, but they're overlooked by wider audiences. 

With the Western genre making a comeback, the number of underappreciated Westerns has only continued to grow. We think it's time to look back, from the 1940s to today, and put together a list of some of the most underrated Westerns that you should be watching.

1. Bone Tomahawk

A quasi-horror Western survivalist movie, 2015's "Bone Tomahawk" stars Kurt Russell as Franklin Hunt, the sheriff of a remote frontier town called Bright Hope. A crisis strikes the town when three of its residents are mysteriously abducted, including one of the sheriff's own deputies. Hunt soon begins to believe that the victims have been taken by a strange, primitive faction of Native Americans they call Troglodytes, who are believed to be cannibals and who have no written or spoken language. 

Hunt assembles a posse to track down the missing townsfolk, which includes the seriously wounded husband of one of the women who has been taken. Their rescue mission to a remote region goes wrong almost from the start. Their camp is raided by bandits who steal their horses, and they're left to travel the distance on foot. When they finally find the Troglodytes, they're in no shape for a fight.

With a similarly underrated cast that includes Matthew Fox ("Lost"), Patrick Wilson ("Watchmen"), Sid Haig ("House of 1000 Corpses"), and David Arquette ("Scream"), "Bone Tomahawk" is a brooding, dark, and gritty drama that borders on a slasher flick, with Russell actually nabbing a Fangoria Chainsaw Award for his performance. Gorgeously shot and viscerally enthralling, it's somehow received little attention since its release.

2. Breakheart Pass

Starring Charles Bronson less than a year after he headlined the revenge classic "Death Wish," the 1975 heist movie "Breakheart Pass" is definitely not the best Western in the actor's catalog, but it may be his most underrated. It starts when an outbreak of diphtheria ravages the soldiers and staff at Fort Humboldt, necessitating a resupply of troops and medical supplies. An express train is sent to aid the Fort. Also aboard are the governor of Nevada and his bride-to-be (played by Bronson's real-life wife, Jill Ireland), plus an apparently dangerous fugitive named Deakin (Bronson) escorted by a U.S. Marshal named Pearce (Ben Johnson), who he claims will net him a massive cash reward. 

As the train zooms to the Fort, passengers and troops alike begin to turn up dead or go missing, and a crate that's supposed to be full of medical supplies is discovered to be a stash of heavy weapons instead. As the danger mounts, the marshal begins to suspect that something more is afoot than a simple resupply for the Fort. He becomes unsure of whom he can trust. We also learn that Deakin isn't what he appears to be, and in fact could be the only person standing between the Fort's salvation and its damnation. With plenty of stunning twists, "Breakheart Pass" is more than a Western adventure or great train robbery; it's also a suspenseful thriller punctuated by a raucous, thrilling, can't-miss battle sequence. 

3. Ride With the Devil

Then-rising star Tobey Maguire and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee reunited three years after "The Ice Storm" to embark on a journey to the Western frontier in "Ride With the Devil." A 1999 drama that also starred Jeffrey Wright, Skeet Ulrich, Jim Caviezel, and singer/actress Jewel, the film was based on "Woe to Live On," a novel by author Daniel Woodrell. The film takes place during the Civil War. It follows a pair of friends, Jake and Jack (Ulrich and Maguire), who join up with a freed slave named Daniel Holt (Wright) and landowner George Clyde (Simon Baker). Together the group joins the fight in the local war between pro-Union Jayhawkers and the Confederate-supporting Missouri Bushwhackers, while looking for revenge for the death of Jake's father.

Thanks in part to mixed critical reception and a limited theatrical release, the film failed at the box office and has become little more than a footnote in both Maguire and Lee's respective careers. Both have done other, better work, but as a smaller-scale story set during the Civil War, it stands up reasonably well next to its big-name contemporaries. Hindsight has been kind to the film, with modern reviewers praising its authenticity, moving character work, and exploration of a lesser-known element of America's most brutal and bloody war.

4. Silverado

"Yellowstone" star Kevin Costner has always loved Westerns, from "Dances With Wolves" to "Wyatt Earp." One of his most underrated is the 1985 film "Silverado," written and directed by "Star Wars" veteran Lawrence Kasdan. An old-school Western adventure, it sees cowboy Emmett (Scott Glenn) assemble a group of rough riders, including his young upstart brother Jake (Costner), a down-on-his-luck outlaw named Paden (Kevin Kline), and the tough-as-nails renegade Mal (Danny Glover). Together they ride to the town of Silverado to find their fortune.

As they get to know each other, they form a unique kinship. Instead of only seeking riches, they eventually fight a ruthless cattle baron who's been attacking settlers and stealing their land, along with a dirty Sheriff who controls the town. They soon discover that the baron is connected to them, and they have more than just a moral motivation to stop him. They find themselves simultaneously seeking revenge and the nobler cause of bringing peace to the now-lawless Silverado.

"Silverado" flopped on its release, and was quickly forgotten amid flashier cowboy fare like "Young Guns." But with loads of gunslinging outlaws, sharp-shooting cowboys, and a dastardly villain, it might be the most underrated Western of the 1980s.

5. The Magnificent Seven (2016)

A remake of one of the greatest Westerns ever made — itself adapted from the Japanese film "The Seven Samurai" — the 2016 version of "The Magnificent Seven" faced an uphill battle from the moment it was released. Despite an A-list cast featuring the likes of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Peter Sarsgaard, there's just no competing with the original, which had legends like Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson.

Smartly, the film opts not to copy the John Sturges classic. The core story remains the same: a terrifying villain is wreaking havoc on a small town, whose denizens hire a cunning gunfighter to help them fight back. In the original, the villain is Calvera, leader of a gang of bandits; in the remake, the baddie is Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard), a greedy industrialist who forces the townspeople to mine for gold. The hero is also different; instead of a Cajun gunslinger coming to the rescue, the remake has Sam Chisholm (Washington), a U.S. Marshal who recruits six more men to aid him in his fight to free the town. 

Unfairly compared to the original classic film, the 2016 film from Antoine Fuqua is only loosely a remake, with many fundamental changes made to the story and characters. Taken on its own merits, the new "Magnificent Seven" combines rollicking action, charismatic performances, and high production values to become an action-adventure flick of the highest order. Matt Bomer, Lee Byung-hun, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Luke Grimes round out the immensely talented cast.

6. Tom Horn

Steve McQueen starred in "Tom Horn," a Western based on the adventures of a legendary real-life outlaw. The film hit theaters in 1980, just months before the actor's tragic death in November of that year, and recounted the tail end of Horn's life. In the film, he is an aging gunslinger struggling to survive in the waning days of the Wild West as the untamed frontier gave way to the 20th century. Chronicling the tragic events that lead to his own untimely end, the film takes liberties with the historical account but does so with conviction and heart.

In this account of Horn's final days, we find the one-time former outlaw in the employ of a cattle rancher named Coble, who's banded together with other ranchers to protect themselves from bandits. Horn is brought aboard to help fight off thieves and troublemakers who've been causing problems for the ranchers, but his violent tendencies begin to rub some of the ranchers the wrong way. In an effort to run him out of town, the ranchers devise a scheme to frame him for the murder of a young boy. 

In reality, Horn's guilt has been the subject of much debate. McQueen's film makes the judgment that he was a wrongly convicted man who was the victim of a personal vendetta. A powerful story of an aging cowboy looking for redemption, "Tom Horn" may not get the accolades of the actor's more famous pictures, but he gives a fine performance in an unusual film that deserves the spotlight.

7. Slow West

An American Western might seem like an unusual choice as a project for a new filmmaker from Scotland, but the story of "Slow West" hits closer to home than you might expect for first-time director John Maclean (no, not that John McClane). Kodi Smit-McPhee stars as Jay Cavendish, a young man from Scotland who's come to America in search of Rose, the woman he loves, who fled to far-off shores with her father after being wanted for murder. Jay finds himself rather quickly in a skirmish with Native Americans and is saved only with the help of gruff Irish bounty hunter Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender), whom he then hires to help him track down his lost love.

Unbeknownst to Jay, however, Silas has learned of the large bounty on Rose's head and hopes to find her not for Jay, but so he can collect the sizable cash reward. Neither of them realizes that they aren't the only ones looking for Rose: another hunter named Victor the Hawk is hot on her trail, and he may be even more dangerous than Silas. 

A stunning debut for Maclean, it was met with universal critical acclaim but landed with little fanfare. Despite its lack of box-office success, it remains a captivating story that offers a fresh take on the Western drama.

8. Quigley Down Under

The 1990 Western "Quigley Down Under" was TV star Tom Selleck's first attempt to become a big-screen action hero after the conclusion of "Magnum P.I." two years prior. Here he stars as Matthew Quigley, a Wild West gunslinger seeking adventure. He finds it halfway across the globe in Australia, then under British rule. Wielding a specially modified rifle of his own design, Quigley is hired by a ruthless English tyrant named Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman), who wants him to find and kill the Australian Aboriginals whose land he wants for himself. 

When Quigley refuses to be party to genocide, Marston has him beaten and abandoned in the harsh Australian outback. The Aboriginals help Quigley survive. Thankful for their generosity, Quigley joins their fight against the cruel and vicious Marston. A rollicking early '90s adventure, it's a fast-paced, hearty, pulp-inspired Western full of energy and action. 

Unfortunately, the film didn't find success with audiences, and Selleck never did wind up being a Hollywood star, content instead to be a hero on the small screen in shows like "Blue Bloods" and "The Closer." Despite being a box office blunder, "Quigley Down Under" is a lively adventure that should be dusted off from the forgotten bin.

9. Shalako

Best known as James Bond at this point in his career, screen legend Sean Connery departed from the usual spy adventures to take a trip to cowboy country in the only real Western he ever made, the 1971 film "Shalako." Perhaps slightly miscast as an American veteran of the Civil War, the celebrated Scot stars in the title role of Shalako, who roams the Plains fighting to keep white settlers off of Native American lands. As the movie begins, Shalako encounters a band of wealthy English trophy hunters who've come to find adventure in New Mexico, only to find themselves in hostile Apache territory.

When the beautiful countess Irina (Brigitte Bardot) is abducted by the Apache, Shalako comes to her rescue. Before long, the former soldier joins the English group and helps them stay alive, as the trophy hunters are now themselves hunted by the Apache. The aristocratic noblemen prove troublesome, and Shalako struggles to keep the hunting party safe from the dangers of the frontier. 

The only on-screen pairing of Sean Connery and sizzling-hot sex symbol Bardot, "Shalako" may require you to overlook Connery's poorly hidden accent. If you can focus on the adventure, you'll find a thrilling Western drama as good or better than many of the era, even if you've probably never heard of it.

10. Appaloosa

2005's "Appaloosa" came and went from theaters so quickly that you were probably more likely to have seen it while flying on a plane. If you've seen it — back then or more recently on streaming — then you've seen what might be the most underrated Western of the decade. Based on a novel by Robert B. Parker (creator of "Spenser: For Hire"), the film put Ed Harris in a black cowboy hat a full decade before "Westworld."

In a new take on a tried-and-true formula, the film centers on the town of Appaloosa, where an overzealous rancher named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) has killed the U.S. Marshal stationed there in order to take over the small mining town. The people hire noted lawman Virgil Cole (Harris), who brings his old friend Everett Hitch (Mortensen) to fight Bragg and retake Appaloosa. When they meet a young widow named Allie (Renée Zellweger) who romances them both, it creates a love triangle that endangers their partnership.

Full of impeccable performances from its star cast, "Appaloosa" may not have offered anything too inventive, but what it did, it did with aplomb. Despite being a dud in theaters, it's been remembered by those who saw it as one of the best modern Westerns that nobody ever talks about.

11. Posse

Long forgotten by many, the 1993 film "Posse" was an action film set in the Wild West that featured an all-Black cast, a rarity for the genre, especially in its day. Directed by and starring Mario Van Peebles, the cast also included Isaac Hayes, Tone Lōc, Blair Underwood, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Reginald VelJohnson, and Big Daddy Kane. The movie begins during the Spanish-American War fought in Cuba, where we meet a gunslinger named Jesse Lee, who commands an all-Black unit called the Buffalo Soldiers, the U.S. Army's 10th Cavalry. 

When their cruel and bigoted commander Colonel Graham (Billy Zane) orders them to their death, James and a group of his allies become deserters, taking with them a stolen stash of Spanish gold. Along their travels, James and his posse stop in Freemanville, where they learn they've been pursued by Graham, who has allied himself with the diabolical nearby Sheriff Bates. Now Jesse must save the town from the villains' wrath while also hoping to find revenge for the death of his father. 

A slick, breezy action vehicle, "Posse" is a Western evolved to suit '90s sensibilities, with over-the-top action and fast-paced fun. Its frenetic style turned off critics at the time, but while it falls short of its lofty goals here and there, it's time audiences turned back to give it a look.

12. Red Sun

A landmark film that sparked the arrival of an entire sub-genre of Westerns, "Red Sun" was the first of the 'East Meets West' movies that paired a Wild West gunslinger with a warrior from the Far East. In this case, action star Charles Bronson (of "Once Upon a Time in the West" fame) starred as a dangerous desperado named Link. Link joins forces with a French outlaw named Gauche (Alain Delon) to commit a daring train robbery full of gold. When they get aboard, they discover there's more than money aboard, as the speeding locomotive also carries the Japanese Ambassador and his royal samurai guardsmen.

The double-crossing Gauche steals the Ambassador's sword, which he'd brought with him as a gift for the United States President. Now the Ambassador's toughest samurai — a skilled warrior named Jubei — recruits Link to help him track his former partner and return the sword to him. Time is running out for them both: if Jubei cannot return the blade within one week, he has sworn to commit ritual suicide as honor demands. He also vows to take Link down with him.

Directed by Terrence Young ("Dr. No"), "Red Sun" proves a thrilling and graphic Spaghetti Western. With enough blood to make Quentin Tarantino blush, the film has plenty of action, sword fights, and shoot-outs to satisfy fans of both Westerns and samurai cinema.

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13. The Duel

"The Duel" is a classic example of a movie that the critics got wrong. It won't bowl you over with its perfection, but it delivers a solid drama set in the Wild West. Australian actor Liam Hemsworth may seem like an odd choice for a Western lawman, too, but he's mostly there in a supporting capacity. Ultimately, the film is all about Woody Harrelson, who delivers a tour-de-force performance that props up the otherwise ordinary film. The former "Cheers" actor plays a preacher named Abraham Brant, who's also a former Confederate officer and the current mayor of the devout religious community of Mount Hermon, where a series of mysterious and ghastly murders has recently taken place. 

Texas Ranger David Kingston (Hemsworth) is sent to investigate incognito and brings his wife, Marisol. Kingston comes face-to-face with Brant, who we discover is also responsible for the death of his father in a duel a decade before. Kingston finds that his nemesis is manipulating the townspeople into fealty to him. When the vulnerable Marisol also comes under Brant's spell, Kingston risks everything to expose him as a con man and murderer. 

With plenty of surprises to be had, "The Duel" is a dark and twisted tale that eschews the typical Western gun-slinging action for sobering pioneer drama.

14. The Homesman

Though the title refers to Tommy Lee Jones' character, make no mistake: "The Homesman" is really all about its female characters, who are the true center of the story. Jones, who also directed, gets star billing, but Hilary Swank is the movie's driving force. She plays Mary Bee Cuddy, a strong-willed and independent landowner — a rarity in 1854, the year the movie is set. Despite her financial security, she is deeply unhappy in her pioneering life in Nebraska. When three troubled women in her community need an escort to a church back East that can care for them, Cuddy volunteers.

Wary of making the dangerous trip all by herself, Cuddy frees a claim jumper named George Briggs in exchange for his help getting the women safely to their destination. Together they set off on the harrowing upstream journey. His hardened experience on the Plains is put to good use as the party encounters risks along the way. When tragedy strikes, Briggs suddenly finds himself unprepared for a challenge he never could have expected.

Critics loved the movie, but audiences looking for something more adventurous were probably a little disappointed. Go into it knowing that it's a slow-moving, gritty look at the hardships faced by women in the untamed West and you won't be disappointed. 

15. The Long Riders

Certainly not an unknown Western, the 1980 film "The Long Riders" is perhaps best known for casting several sets of actual Hollywood siblings in the roles of famous real-life brothers. David, Robert, and Keith Carradine star as Cole, Bob, and Jim Younger; James and Stacy Keach play Jesse and Frank James; Randy and Dennis Quaid play Ed and Clell Miller; and Christopher and Nicholas Guest take the roles of James and Robert Ford. While the casting seems like a gimmick, the group excels in their roles of the real-life cowboys, renegades, and outlaws they play.

The movie begins with the notorious James-Younger gang crisscrossing the West and terrorizing quiet towns. During a bold bank robbery, Ed Miller kills a clerk and sparks a deadly shootout, which ultimately gets him booted from the gang and leaves Jesse wounded. With the law hot on their tail, things continue to go wrong for the gang. Tension among the group rides high, leading to divided loyalties among them.

An action-packed Western thriller, it was a passion project for the Keach and Carradine brothers, who practically willed the film into existence. Their love for the story shows on screen. Though usually remembered for its stunt casting, the film is actually quite good.

16. Brimstone

IndieWire may have put it best when they described "Brimstone" as a "gnarly revisionist Western that trembles with Biblical weight." That succinct description is all you really need to know about this unique 2016 effort by Dutch filmmaker Martin Koolhoven. There's something to be said for going into it with few expectations and little knowledge. Without going into too much detail, the story follows Liz (Dakota Fanning), a young midwife who kills a baby during childbirth to save its mother but is persecuted as a callous murderer by a crusading minister (Guy Pearce).

Be warned that "Brimstone" isn't for those looking for an exciting Western adventure with cowboys and gunslingers shouting "hi-yo silver." Instead, what you'll find here is a wretched tale of obsession and religious fury, and one that you'll have to watch intently to fully grasp. Its innovative four-act structure makes it a labyrinth of storytelling that may prove difficult to navigate for some — in fact, it proved impenetrable for quite a few reviewers. If you can stick with it and want a Western that is darn near Shakespearean in its tragedy and ecstasy, you'll find it both brilliant and breathtaking.

17. The Eagle and the Hawk

Not to be confused with the 1933 Cary Grant war movie of the same name, the 1950 Western "The Eagle and the Hawk" never gets the same recognition as its peers, with bigger name titles like "High Noon," "Rio Grande," and "Shane" hogging all the attention. It's true that the John Payne Western may never rise to the same heights as those greats, but it's been buried for far too long. If you're a sucker for old-fashioned cowboy action and a heart-rending pioneer story, this one is for you. 

Set during the Civil War, the film centers on an adventurous Texas Ranger, Captain Todd Croyden (Payne). The ambitious lawman is asked by Texas Governor Lubbock to partner with a former Union spy (Dennis O'Keefe) on a mission to investigate French activity across the border in Mexico. According to Lubbock, the foreign interlopers are engaged in a takeover of the neighboring nation and plan to use it as a staging ground for an invasion of Texas.

Though no award-winner, "The Eagle and the Hawk" is just about everything you could want in a Western from the era. Shootouts, horse chases, fisticuffs, and damsels in distress? This one's got 'em. 

18. The Quick and the Dead (1987)

While the 1995 Sam Raimi film of the same name (starring Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone) got all the attention from audiences and critics, the made-for-television movie "The Quick and the Dead" from nearly a decade before quickly faded into history despite being the far better film. Oddly, the two movies have no relation other than sharing a title, with the telefilm being based on a 1973 novel.  

Airing on premium network HBO in 1987, the movie told the story of a Wyoming settler and former soldier turned pacifist named Duncan McCaskel (Tom Conti), his wife Susanna (Kate Capshaw), and their young son Tom, who find themselves targets of a range-roving villain named "Doc" Shabitt (Matt Clark). The pioneering family finds protection in the form of Con Vallian (Sam Elliott), a mysterious solitary drifter they meet during a clash with Shabitt. When Susanna falls to the advances of their protector Vallian, it risks the friendship that has saved their lives. 

19. Hostiles

Considering this film's superstar cast, it's a wonder it's never talked about and received so little publicity on its release. "Hostiles," directed by Scott Cooper ("Black Mass"), was released in 2017 and featured A-Listers Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Timothée Chalamet, and Jesse Plemons, but inexplicably only received a limited release on its way to being a box-office flop. It didn't even manage to earn itself any of the nominations it was likely hoping for when it secured itself a clear Oscar bait release date. 

As you'd expect, Bale throws himself into the role of embittered 19th-century U.S. Army Captain Joseph Blocker. The veteran soldier has been instructed by President Harrison to escort a Native American chieftain named Yellow Hawk, who is suffering from cancer, back to his people. Blocker, who is nearing the end of his service time, isn't thrilled about ferrying the Cheyenne leader because the two warriors were once mortal enemies. What follows is a dangerous trek across the Plains from New Mexico to Montana. The two former adversaries must work together to survive against the many dangers they face along the way.

A visually sumptuous and impeccably acted journey across the frontier, "Hostile" was well-reviewed but hardly seen.

20. Matewan

More of a neo-Western and revisionist historical drama than most on this list, "Matewan" takes place in 1920 in West Virginia, where a major coal miner's strike threatens to shut down the Stone Mountain Coal Company. Like the best films in the Western genre, the story focuses on a steely-eyed hero who comes to town to save the people from their tyrannical grip. In this case, it's a union organizer named Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper), who arrives and does his best to settle down the striking miners so as not to provoke the company. Tensions nonetheless escalate when Stone Mountain brings in Black and Italian laborers to cross the picket line.

As the situation reaches a boiling point, the company brings in a group of hired guns to push the striking workers around, leading to violence that swells to engulf the nearby hill people. Eventually, Joe becomes the company's target. He finds himself framed for a violent attack he didn't commit thanks to the company's efforts to turn his people against him. 

A strong cast that included James Earl Jones ("Field of Dreams"), Mary McDonnell ("Battlestar Galactica"), and Bob Gunton ("The Shawshank Redemption") helped earn the film rave reviews on its release in 1987. Unfortunately, it's been long overlooked, but as a dramatization of a forgotten part of American history, it's an important film that Western fans will likely love.

21. Sukiyaki Western Django

From the celebrated Japanese auteur director Takashi Miike came the 2006 Eastern "Sukiyaki Western Django." The director of "Ichi the Killer" paid homage to Spaghetti Westerns by playing with the trope of a mysterious, unnamed, gun-slinging drifter. He also included direct references to classic films like 1961's "Yojimbo" and 1966's "Django." American director Quentin Tarantino took a co-starring role here in Miike's masterpiece, long before he made his own update of "Django" with 2012's "Django Unchained."

Set in a period of war between the historical Genji and Heiki clans, the film stars Hideaki Itō as a gunman with no name who wanders into the town of Yuta. The townspeople are caught in between two warring clans who battle for control of the town and its gold. The gunman offers both clans a simple offer for his magnificent sharp-shooting skills, promising his loyalty to the highest bidder. His offer obscures a hidden agenda, as he's really out to help a young widow get vengeance for the death of her husband.

A clever script and breakneck action, along with viscerally violent fight scenes as only Miike can deliver, make "Sukiyaki Western Django" an unmissable classic.

22. Death Rides a Horse

The 1960s were awash in Westerns, including some of the best that were ever made, from evergreen Eastwood classics like "Fistful of Dollars" to John Wayne heavyweights like "True Grit." Among so many classics, a few underrated flicks have slipped through the cracks. One such potential powerhouse is the Italian film "Death Rides a Horse," starring Lee Van Cleef, a veteran of the "Dollars" trilogy. Though diehard fans of the genre will cite the film as one of the best movies of the decade, wider audiences have likely never gotten a taste of its greatness.

The 1967 Spaghetti Western introduces audiences to Bill Meceita (John Phillip Law), a young man who's spent most of his life as a rough-riding drifter seeking revenge on the outlaws who murdered his family as a boy. Since that fateful day, he's trained himself to be a skilled gunfighter and has committed the identity of his family's killers to memory. As he searches for them, Bill meets Ryan (Van Cleef), a mysterious outlaw who was framed by the same men that he is hunting. The two team up to take them down.

An unforgettable revenge film, "Death Rides a Horse" also features a stunning score by Ennio Morricone, who scored so many classics of the genre. Though not as widely known, this film should be remembered alongside the very best of the era's Westerns.

23. Hidalgo

In 2004, "Lord of the Rings" alum Viggo Mortensen became a cowboy for his first feature film role since the epic Middle Earth trilogy concluded. "Hidalgo," directed by Joe Johnson ("Captain America: The First Avenger"), saw Mortensen play real-life horse-riding legend (and member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show) Frank Hopkins. Hopkins leaves American shores and takes his skills in the saddle to the Arabian desert at the invitation of the Sheikh. He and his prized mustang — the titular Hidalgo — enter the 'Ocean's Fire,' a celebrated horse race, and compete against the best-trained riders of the region on the finest Arabian horses around.

Hopkins has to survive more than just the normal obstacles during the 3,000-mile route — which covers deadly sandstorms, rough terrain, and high temperatures — but also a group of rival riders who resent competing against a foreign infidel. Things only get worse when the outsider Hopkins is found romancing Jazira, the daughter of the Sheikh. 

An epic throwback adventure, "Hidalgo" has shades of classics like "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Ben-Hur." Mortensen's turn as Frank Hopkins was loved by audiences, while noted critic Roger Ebert called the film, "bold, exuberant and swashbuckling." Nevertheless, the film failed to take hold as an all-time great like the movies that may have inspired it.

24. Pale Rider

By 1985, Clint Eastwood was already a Hollywood legend, but his best Western movies, like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and "Hang 'Em High," were roughly a decade behind him. He'd already moved into action films, like the "Dirty Harry" series, and his efforts in the cowboy genre during the '70s and early '80s had largely been forgettable. 

"Pale Rider" unexpectedly proved a worthy addition to the Western catalog of his filmography. It's never been considered among his very best, but perhaps it should be. In fact, it might be the most underrated film of his career. 

Eastwood plays a mysterious and ghostly gunslinger known only as the Preacher. Mixing the Western genre with some supernatural elements, we meet the Preacher as he helps a group of besieged gold miners fend off attacks from ruthless interlopers. A dark and foreboding mystical Western drama unlike any other, the film largely succeeds thanks to Clint Eastwood's towering, ethereal presence. Somehow, after nearly three decades in the genre, having played several similar characters before, the actor still managed to find new and powerful ways to play the man with no name.

The film also proved that the actor could never outgrow a wide-brimmed hat and a six-shooter. Eastwood would return to the Western genre in 1992 with "Unforgiven," an all-time classic.

25. Open Range

Two veterans of Western film, Robert Duvall ("Lonesome Dove") and Kevin Costner ("Dances with Wolves"), got together with Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, and a young Diego Luna for the 2003 drama "Open Range." Duvall stars as a Montana rancher and remorseful former Union soldier named Boss Spearman, who takes his cattle herd cross-country with the help of three cowboys: Charley, Mose, and Button. They eventually find themselves stopping in the town of Harmonville, which is ruled by an Irish rancher named Denton Baxter and Poole, a bloodthirsty U.S. Marshal. 

Baxter and Poole don't like outsiders. When Mose heads into town to buy supplies, he's badly beaten, and Button is shot trying to defend him. Spurred to action, it's up to Boss and Charley to fight back against Baxter, Poole, and their men in a violent confrontation that they might not survive.

This rugged Western was also directed by Kevin Costner. If you're looking for a modern take on the classic 1950s Westerns with cowboy heroes on a crusade, this is the movie to put on your watchlist. Somehow, despite its star power and engaging story, it was only a modest success. At least it showed that Costner was still a good fit for the genre, helping him snag high-profile TV roles in "Hatfield & McCoys" and eventually the neo-Western "Yellowstone" in the years that followed.

26. The Great Silence

Another overlooked 1960s Spaghetti Western that needs wider recognition than it receives, "The Great Silence" is an Italian-French production starring Klaus Kinski ("Nosferatu the Vampyre") and Jean-Louis Trintignant ("The City of Lost Children"). Set just before the Great Blizzard of 1899 that left over 100 dead, it centers on a silent outlaw nicknamed, fittingly, "Silenzio." A vicious and highly trained killer, he rides into the town of Snow Hill, Utah.

As snow and ice blanket the region, the townspeople are forced into survival mode, with many resorting to theft to keep themselves afloat. Having become bandits themselves, their dire situation has left them vulnerable to bounty hunters out to cash in. One such desperado is a sadistic gunslinger named Pollicut, who uses the opportunity to collect rewards for nabbing the desperate bandits. Silenzio is the one man who might be able to stop him. We also learn that the voiceless avenger has a personal score to settle with Pollicut that reaches back to his childhood.

With buckets of blood, political allegory, rip-roaring action, and another fantastic score from Ennio Morricone, "The Great Silence" might be the most underrated Spaghetti Western ever made.   

27. Meek's Cutoff

Highly praised by critics, "Meek's Cutoff" is another modern Western that was run off the range too quickly and received little attention on its release in 2011 thanks to its indie production. The film is a big and bold one, starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, and Will Patton. Not your average cowboy adventure, the film chronicles four families in the pioneering days of the 19th century who set out on the perilous journey on the Oregon Trail. A man named Stephen Meek (Greenwood) escorts them, but when the route takes longer than expected, they realize that their guide may not be as skilled and knowledgeable as he'd claimed. 

Without a proper leader, the group begins to fracture and must deal with dangers they are suddenly unprepared for. A tense, bleak drama, "Meek's Cutoff" may have disappointed those looking for a simple adventure or slice-of-life Western drama, but authenticity is where the film shined. Critic Roger Ebert said in his review that it was "the first film I've seen that evokes what must have been the reality of wagon trains to the West." Describing the film as "more an experience than a story," he lauded "Meek's Cutoff" for challenging his perception of what it was like to travel the frontier.

28. Hombre

Over the last 50 years, Hollywood has mined the works of author Elmore Leonard for plenty of movies and television shows, resulting in TV hits like "Justified" as well as big-screen successes like "Out of Sight," "Jackie Brown," and "Get Shorty." One of the first adaptations of his works is the 1967 film "Hombre" starring Paul Newman. Though it's never gotten the same level of recognition as the first Leonard-penned Western, "3:10 to Yuma," the silver screen adaptation of the author's fifth novel is in sore need of broader appreciation.

In the film, a pre-"Butch Cassidy" Newman stars as John Russell, a white man who had been raised by the Apache. He comes back to his old town in Arizona upon the death of his father, who has left him a family heirloom. Leaving town on a stagecoach, his fellow passengers subject him to bigotry and intolerance for his Native American upbringing. When a gang of outlaws attacks them on the trail, it's up to Russell to defend those who despise him from those who want them dead.

A revisionist Western and cowboy adventure with everything a fan would want in a movie of its kind, its bold social commentary helps elevate it to something even better.

29. The Missing

The 2003 movie "The Missing" was based on the novel "The Last Ride" by Thomas Eidson. Directed by Ron Howard, it featured a top-notch cast, led by Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett, with Elizabeth Moss, Aaron Eckhart, Evan Rachel Wood, Val Kilmer, and Clint Howard also starring. The story takes place in New Mexico in the latter half of the 1800s and tells the story of Samuel Jones (Jones), a man who had traveled with Native Americans for years and now hopes to reconcile with his adult daughter Maggie (Blanchett).

When Maggie's daughter Lilly (Wood) is abducted by an Apache marauder named El Brujo, Maggie reluctantly allows her father back into her life. In their hunt for Lily, the once-estranged father and daughter duo meet Kayitah and Honesco, a Chiricahua father-son pair who are also tracking El Brujo. The four set out to deliver justice to the Apache raider and save their loved ones. Praised by more than critics, even Apache historians gave "The Missing" high marks for its authenticity and historical accuracy, which combine with a suspenseful story to make the film an underrated gem.

30. The Proposition

The second Western on the list to be set in the Australian outback, "The Proposition" is an Australian production with a mostly English cast. Written and scored by musician Nick Cave, the film starred Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Emily Watson, and John Hurt. Pearce plays Charlie Burns, a renegade outlaw who, along with his younger brother Mikey, is finally cornered and caught by a no-nonsense lawman, Captain Morris Stanley (Winstone). 

Facing execution, Stanley offers Charlie a proposition to win him and his little brother their freedom: head across the desert to track and kill his older brother Arthur, who's wanted for rape and murder. Setting out across the dangerous outback, Charlie soon realizes he's not alone when he encounters a gruff old bounty hunter named Jellon Lamb (Hurt), who has a mysterious agenda of his own. 

Described by The Guardian as "a blast of grittiness" and a "violently complex masterpiece of genre revisionism," the Proposition is another Western lost to the glut of limited release and direct-to-streaming fare that deserved better.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).