The Top 10 Westerns According To The AFI


10. Cat Ballou

Many Western films are often very serious, featuring murder, revenge, and epic shootouts. It's rather surprising, then, that one of the genre's most enduring efforts, Elliot Silverstein's "Cat Ballou," is an out-and-out comedy. "Cat Ballou" is hilarious, while providing plenty of surprises and standout moments.

9. Stagecoach

The Western genre itself was considered a category best suited for B-movies –- that is, until legendary director John Ford's 1939 breakthrough, "Stagecoach." As a film, "Stagecoach" is extremely entertaining, taking characters saddled with Western stereotypes and subverting them, all while elevating the genre itself.

8. McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Few films are as strikingly beautiful as Robert Altman's "McCabe & Mrs. Miller." A biting critique of early capitalism and a resonant story, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" is an intoxicating, hypnotic revisionist western.

7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

One of the all-time great screen pairings, if only for their immeasurable levels of cool, Paul Newman and Robert Redford lead "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The film comes to life with the amazing charisma of its leads, creative and memorable train sequences, and a unique use of pop music.

6. The Wild Bunch

Drenched in shocking depravity and violence, Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" is a startling revisionist Western. In terms of just how transgressive "The Wild Bunch" is, it is almost as if Peckinpah had a shootout with the Western genre — and walked out on top.

5. Red River

One of the biggest takeaways from watching the fantastic Howard Hawks Western "Red River" is just how incredibly expansive everything feels. For those who love Westerns for their massive scope, none do it better than "Red River."

4. Unforgiven

Actor-director Clint Eastwood took a stab at reviving the true old-school Western with "Unforgiven" in 1992. "Unforgiven" is a perfect reminder of the glory of the Western, all while delivering a fresh take on the genre.

3. Shane

A beautiful deconstruction of the myth of the American cowboy, George Stevens' 1953 classic "Shane" stars Alan Ladd — in one of cinema's most heartbreaking and powerful performances — as Shane, a cowboy of few words but undeniably impressive fighting skills.

2. High Noon

The line "Do not forsake me, oh my darling" rings out in the ballad "High Noon," the title song of this outstanding 1952 Western. "High Noon" is one of the finest Westerns ever made, and one of Hollywood's best pictures regardless of genre.

1. The Searchers

In John Ford's masterpiece “The Searchers”, John Wayne stars in his finest role as Ethan Edwards, a nasty, vengeful man utterly consumed by his hatred for Indians. "The Searchers" is a timeless classic that features everything people love about the extraordinary Western genre. It's no surprise that it tops the AFI's list.

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The Top 10 Westerns According To The AFI