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Best Western Movies of All Time

Everyone loves a good western movie and Cowboy Lifestyle Network is no different! We have put together a list of our personal favorite “Best Western Movies” that are sure to take you back to the days of wild horses, cowboys, and the wild, wild west!

Lonesome Dove

Lonesome Dove, originally a western novel, was written in 1985 by American writer Larry McMurtry. Known for its great cast, it is a favorite among western fans. The story focuses on the relationship among a few retired Texas Rangers and their adventures driving a cattle herd from Texas to Montana. The movie is set during the times of the wild west and explore several different themes, such as old age, death, unrequited love, and friendship. Below are five of the most classic scenes from Lonesome Dove.

The novel was a bestseller and won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1989, it was adapted as a TV miniseries starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall, which won both critical and popular acclaim. McMurtry went on to write a sequel, Streets of Laredo (1993), and two prequels, Dead Man’s Walk (1995) and Comanche Moon (1997), all of which were also adapted as TV series.

True Grit

So there can be two favorites here depending on if you like original western movies or renditions. We thought both were good so they both made the list. Let’s talk about the original movie first. Filmed in 1969, the set takes place in 1880 when it was pretty common to pay someone off to go kill someone else. And that’s the basis of this story. It starts when Frank Ross, of Yell County, Arkansas, is murdered and robbed by his hired hand, Tom Chaney. Ross’s daughter, Mattie, is left behind to fend for herself. She sets out to seek vengeance for her father which is when she hires aging U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” J. Cogburn to take care of the man that killed her father. The only catch was that Mattie was to come with him, which is adamantly protested, but eventually lost that battle as the two go throughout the storyline seeking out the man has heard that Cogburn has “true grit”.

The 2010 rendition was directed, written, produced, and edited by the Coen brothers and Steven Spielberg. It follows the same storyline as the original but with stars, Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross and Jeff Bridges as Deputy U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn, along with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Barry Pepper. Compared to the previous film which starred John Wayne, Kim Darby, and Glen Campbell.

Django Unchained

Released in 2012 this American revisionist Western film was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. One of the highlights of this movie is its all-star cast featuring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson, with Walton Goggins, Dennis Christopher, James Remar, Michael Parks, and Don Johnson in supporting roles. The movie is set in the Old West and Antebellum South, it is a highly-stylized after the 1966 Italian film, Django by Sergio Corbucci, whose star Franco Nero has a cameo appearance.

The development of Django Unchained started back in 2007 when Tarantino was writing a book on Corbucci. By spring of 2011, Tarantino sent the final draft of the script to be considered and they started casting for the film that summer. The movie premiered in New York City on December 11, 2012, and was released to theaters on December 25 of the same year. The movie grossed over $425 million worldwide against its $100 million budget, becoming Tarantino’s highest-grossing movie to date.

Open Range

This 2003 American Western film was directed and co-produced by Kevin Costner, starring Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner himself, along with Annette Bening, Michael Gambon, and Michael Jeter appearing in supporting roles. Kevin Costner grew up reading the western romance novels of Lauran Paine and Open Range is based on Paine’s 1990 novel, “The Open Range Men”.

Robert Duvall was the only actor that Costner had in mind for the role of Boss Spearman. Costner said that if Duvall had turned down the part, he might not have made the movie at all. Duvall accepted the role immediately, and Costner gave him top billing. Duvall got bucked off a horse and broke six ribs while practicing his riding for this role.

In closing, we understand that there are several, wonderful western movies out there that we have not mentioned, so we would like to hear what your favorites are below! Let us know and maybe they will get featured in our next article!



CLN Community & Event Sponsor

Hi everyone! I'm Krysta Paffrath, I am a proud Arizona native who has a passion for everything business and rodeo. I am beyond thrilled to be the Editor in Chief for Cowboy Lifestyle Network. With my background in digital marketing and rodeo, this was a natural fit for me to join the team. My adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit has guided me to work in many places like the WYO Quarter Horse Ranch in Thermopolis, Wyoming, a working cattle ranch in Seligman, Arizona, and many places in between. I am passionate about preserving the western way of life and working with different brands and rodeos to make that happen. If you're looking for a write-up, please shoot me an email at Learn more about me at Looking forward to hearing from you!

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