Revisionist Western films

by nscivoletto | created - 24 Jul 2016 | updated - 31 Aug 2016 | Public

Some post-WWII Western films began to question the ideals and style of the traditional Western. Elements include a darker, more cynical tone, with focus on the lawlessness of the time period, favoring realism over romanticism. Anti-heroes are still common, but with stronger roles for women and more-sympathetic portrayal of Native Americans and Mexicans. Regarding power and authority, these depictions favor critical views of big business, the American government, masculine figures (including the military and their policies), and a turn to greater historical authenticity. (consider Spaghetti Western as a separate category)

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1. High Noon (1952)

PG | 85 min | Drama, Thriller, Western

89 Metascore

A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.

Director: Fred Zinnemann | Stars: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges

Votes: 91,175 | Gross: $9.45M

Gary Cooper Thomas Mitchell Lloyd Bridges Katy Jurado Grace Kelly

2. Shane (1953)

Not Rated | 118 min | Drama, Western

80 Metascore

A weary gunfighter attempts to settle down with a homestead family, but a smoldering settler/rancher conflict forces him to act.

Director: George Stevens | Stars: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde

Votes: 33,894 | Gross: $20.00M

Alan Ladd Jean Arthur Van Heflin Brandon deWilde Jack Palance

3. The Magnificent Seven (1960)

Approved | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Western

74 Metascore

Seven gunfighters are hired by Mexican peasants to liberate their village from oppressive bandits.

Director: John Sturges | Stars: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach

Votes: 81,643 | Gross: $4.91M

Yul Brynner Eli Wallach Steve McQueen Charles Bronson James Coburn

4. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Not Rated | 123 min | Drama, Western

94 Metascore

A senator, who became famous for killing a notorious outlaw, returns for the funeral of an old friend and tells the truth about his deed.

Director: John Ford | Stars: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin

Votes: 63,324

John Wayne James Stewart Vera Miles Lee Marvin Edmond O'Brien

5. The Professionals (1966)

PG-13 | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Western

75 Metascore

An arrogant Texas millionaire hires four adventurers to rescue his kidnapped wife from a notorious Mexican bandit.

Director: Richard Brooks | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode

Votes: 12,557 | Gross: $19.54M

Burt Lancaster Lee Marvin Robert Ryan Woody Strode Jack Palance

6. Will Penny (1967)

Approved | 108 min | Romance, Western

Aging cowboy Will Penny gets a line camp job on a large cattle spread and finds his isolated cabin is already occupied by a husbandless woman and her young son.

Director: Tom Gries | Stars: Charlton Heston, Joan Hackett, Donald Pleasence, Lee Majors

Votes: 3,798

Charlton Heston Joan Hackett Donald Pleasence Ben Johnson Bruce Dern

7. Hang 'Em High (1968)

M | 114 min | Drama, Western

62 Metascore

When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice.

Director: Ted Post | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle, Ed Begley

Votes: 32,096

Clint Eastwood Inger Stevens Ed Begley Pat Hingle Ben Johnson

8. The Wild Bunch (1969)

R | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Western

95 Metascore

An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the "traditional" American West is disappearing around them.

Director: Sam Peckinpah | Stars: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien

Votes: 72,846

William Holden Ernest Borgnine Robert Ryan Edmond O'Brien Warren Oates

9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

PG | 110 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

66 Metascore

Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.

Director: George Roy Hill | Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Strother Martin

Votes: 189,259 | Gross: $102.31M

Paul Newman Robert Redford Katharine Ross Strother Martin Jeff Corey

10. Little Big Man (1970)

PG-13 | 139 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama

63 Metascore

Jack Crabb, looking back from extreme old age, tells of his life being raised by Native Americans and fighting with General Custer.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam

Votes: 30,821 | Gross: $31.56M

Dustin Hoffman Faye Dunaway Chief Dan George Martin Balsam Richard Mulligan

11. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

R | 120 min | Drama, Western

A gambler and a prostitute become business partners in a remote Old West mining town, and their enterprise thrives until a large corporation arrives on the scene.

Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois, William Devane

Votes: 20,013

Warren Beatty Julie Christie René Auberjonois Michael Murphy William Devane

12. The Hired Hand (1971)

R | 90 min | Drama, Western

Harry returns home to his wife and farm after drifting with his friend Arch and has to make a difficult decision regarding his loyalties.

Director: Peter Fonda | Stars: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Verna Bloom, Robert Pratt

Votes: 2,568

Peter Fonda Warren Oates Verna Bloom

13. Bad Company (1972)

PG | 93 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

A god-fearing Ohio boy dodging the Civil War draft arrives in St. Joseph, MO where he joins up with a hardscrabble group of like runaways heading west.

Director: Robert Benton | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Barry Brown, Jim Davis, David Huddleston

Votes: 3,280

Barry Brown Jeff Bridges

14. Ulzana's Raid (1972)

R | 103 min | Adventure, Western

After fierce war chief Ulzana and a small war party jump the reservation bent on murder and terror, an inexperienced young lieutenant is assigned to track him down.

Director: Robert Aldrich | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Bruce Davison, Jorge Luke, Richard Jaeckel

Votes: 4,672

Burt Lancaster Bruce Davison Richard Jaeckel Jorge Luke Joaquín Martínez

15. Chato's Land (1972)

PG | 100 min | Western

In 1870s New Mexico, a half-breed kills a bigoted sheriff in self-defense but the posse that eventually hunts him finds itself in dangerous territory.

Director: Michael Winner | Stars: Charles Bronson, Jack Palance, James Whitmore, Simon Oakland

Votes: 4,272

Charles Bronson Jack Palance James Whitmore Simon Oakland Richard Basehart

16. Joe Kidd (1972)

PG | 88 min | Western

52 Metascore

An ex-bounty hunter reluctantly helps a wealthy landowner and his henchmen track down a Mexican revolutionary leader.

Director: John Sturges | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud

Votes: 15,322

Clint Eastwood Robert Duvall John Saxon Don Stroud Stella Garcia

17. The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972)

PG | 91 min | Drama, Western

The gangs of Jesse James and Cole Younger join forces for a bungled robbery of the bank in Northfield, Minnesota.

Director: Philip Kaufman | Stars: Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Luke Askew, R.G. Armstrong

Votes: 1,755

Cliff Robertson Robert Duvall Luke Askew R.G. Armstrong Matt Clark

18. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

PG | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

In Vinegaroon, Texas, former outlaw Roy Bean appoints himself the judge for the region and dispenses his brand of justice as he sees fit.

Director: John Huston | Stars: Paul Newman, Ava Gardner, Roy Jenson, Gary Combs

Votes: 6,640

Paul Newman Jacqueline Bisset Anthony Perkins Victoria Principal Ned Beatty

19. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

GP | 108 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

75 Metascore

A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by the Crow tribe, and proves to be a match for their warriors in single combat on the early frontier.

Director: Sydney Pollack | Stars: Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton, Josh Albee

Votes: 26,276 | Gross: $47.74M

Robert Redford Will Geer

20. High Plains Drifter (1973)

R | 105 min | Drama, Mystery, Western

69 Metascore

A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Mitchell Ryan

Votes: 45,811 | Gross: $15.70M

Clint Eastwood Verna Bloom Billy Curtis Mitchell Ryan Geoffrey Lewis

21. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, Western

Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.

Director: Sam Peckinpah | Stars: James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Richard Jaeckel, Katy Jurado

Votes: 16,593

James Coburn Kris Kristofferson Bob Dylan Slim Pickens Jason Robards

22. The Shootist (1976)

PG | 100 min | Drama, Romance, Western

77 Metascore

A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart

Votes: 20,315

John Wayne Lauren Bacall Ron Howard James Stewart Richard Boone

23. The Missouri Breaks (1976)

PG | 126 min | Drama, Western

65 Metascore

Tom Logan is a horse thief. Rancher David Braxton has horses, and a daughter, worth stealing. But Braxton has just hired Lee Clayton, an infamous "regulator", to hunt down the horse thieves; one at a time.

Director: Arthur Penn | Stars: Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Kathleen Lloyd

Votes: 8,718 | Gross: $14.00M

Marlon Brando Jack Nicholson Randy Quaid Frederic Forrest Harry Dean Stanton

24. Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)

PG | 123 min | Comedy, Western

A cynical Buffalo Bill hires Sitting Bull to exploit him and add his credibility to the distorted view of history presented in his Wild West Show.

Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Paul Newman, Joel Grey, Kevin McCarthy, Harvey Keitel

Votes: 3,790

Paul Newman Geraldine Chaplin Burt Lancaster Joel Grey Harvey Keitel

25. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

PG | 135 min | Western

69 Metascore

A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George, Bill McKinney

Votes: 60,698 | Gross: $31.80M

Clint Eastwood Chief Dan George Sondra Locke Bill McKinney John Vernon

26. Heaven's Gate (1980)

R | 219 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

57 Metascore

A dramatization of the real-life Johnson County War in 1890 Wyoming, in which a Sheriff born into wealth, attempts to protect immigrant farmers from rich cattle interests.

Director: Michael Cimino | Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Sam Waterston

Votes: 12,434 | Gross: $3.48M

Kris Kristofferson Christopher Walken John Hurt Sam Waterston Jeff Bridges

27. The Long Riders (1980)

R | 100 min | Biography, Crime, Western

64 Metascore

The origins, exploits and the ultimate fate of the Jesse James gang is told in a sympathetic portrayal of the bank robbers made up of brothers who begin their legendary bank raids because of revenge.

Director: Walter Hill | Stars: David Carradine, Stacy Keach, Dennis Quaid, Keith Carradine

Votes: 9,000 | Gross: $23.00M

James Keach Stacy Keach David Carradine Keith Carradine Robert Carradine

28. Pale Rider (1985)

R | 115 min | Drama, Western

61 Metascore

A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Sydney Penny

Votes: 48,351 | Gross: $41.41M

Clint Eastwood Michael Moriarty Carrie Snodgress Richard Dysart John Russell

29. Dances with Wolves (1990)

PG-13 | 181 min | Adventure, Drama, Western

72 Metascore

Lieutenant John Dunbar, assigned to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant

Votes: 222,882 | Gross: $184.21M

Kevin Costner Mary McDonnell Graham Greene Rodney A. Grant Floyd Red Crow Westerman

30. Unforgiven (1992)

R | 130 min | Drama, Western

85 Metascore

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

Director: Clint Eastwood | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris

Votes: 345,670 | Gross: $101.16M

Clint Eastwood Gene Hackman Morgan Freeman Richard Harris Saul Rubinek

31. Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

PG-13 | 115 min | Drama, History, Western

The story of the Apache chief and his armed resistance to the U.S. Government's subjugation of his people.

Director: Walter Hill | Stars: Jason Patric, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Wes Studi

Votes: 8,118 | Gross: $18.64M

Jason Patric Gene Hackman Robert Duvall Wes Studi Matt Damon

32. Tombstone (1993)

R | 130 min | Action, Biography, Drama

50 Metascore

A successful lawman's plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona, are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.

Directors: George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre | Stars: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton

Votes: 116,506 | Gross: $56.51M

Kurt Russell Val Kilmer Michael Biehn Powers Boothe Michael Rooker

33. The Quick and the Dead (1995)

R | 107 min | Action, Romance, Thriller

49 Metascore

A female gunfighter returns to a frontier town where a dueling tournament is being held, which she enters in an effort to avenge her father's death.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio

Votes: 79,448 | Gross: $18.64M

Sharon Stone Gene Hackman Russell Crowe Leonardo DiCaprio Pat Hingle

34. The Missing (I) (2003)

R | 137 min | Adventure, Thriller, Western

55 Metascore

In 1885 New Mexico, a frontier medicine woman forms an uneasy alliance with her estranged father when her daughter is kidnapped by an Apache brujo.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd

Votes: 31,289 | Gross: $26.90M

Tommy Lee Jones Cate Blanchett Evan Rachel Wood Jenna Boyd Aaron Eckhart

35. Open Range (2003)

R | 139 min | Action, Drama, Romance

67 Metascore

A former gunslinger is forced to take up arms again when he and his cattle crew are threatened by a corrupt lawman.

Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Diego Luna, Abraham Benrubi

Votes: 62,631 | Gross: $58.33M

Robert Duvall Kevin Costner Annette Bening Michael Gambon Michael Jeter

36. The Proposition (2005)

R | 104 min | Crime, Drama, Western

73 Metascore

A lawman apprehends a notorious outlaw and gives him nine days to kill his older brother, or else they'll execute his younger brother.

Director: John Hillcoat | Stars: Ray Winstone, Guy Pearce, Emily Watson, Richard Wilson

Votes: 47,776 | Gross: $1.90M

Guy Pearce Ray Winstone Danny Huston John Hurt Emily Watson

37. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

R | 122 min | Action, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.

Director: James Mangold | Stars: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Logan Lerman

Votes: 272,058 | Gross: $53.61M

Russell Crowe Christian Bale Peter Fonda Ben Foster Dallas Roberts

38. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

R | 160 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

68 Metascore

Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.

Director: Andrew Dominik | Stars: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Mary-Louise Parker

Votes: 158,160 | Gross: $3.90M

Brad Pitt Casey Affleck Sam Shepard Mary-Louise Parker Sam Rockwell

39. There Will Be Blood (2007)

R | 158 min | Drama

93 Metascore

A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer

Votes: 469,102 | Gross: $40.22M

Daniel Day-Lewis Paul Dano Kevin J. O'Connor Ciarán Hinds Dillon Freasier

40. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 133 min | Drama, History, Western

A historic chronicle based on the book by Dee Brown explains how Native Americans were displaced as the United States expanded west.

Director: Yves Simoneau | Stars: Aidan Quinn, Adam Beach, August Schellenberg, Anna Paquin

Votes: 5,634

Aidan Quinn Adam Beach August Schellenberg Eric Schweig J. K. Simmons

41. Appaloosa (2008)

R | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

64 Metascore

Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.

Director: Ed Harris | Stars: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons

Votes: 56,019 | Gross: $20.21M

Ed Harris Viggo Mortensen Renee Zellweger Jeremy Irons Lance Henriksen

42. True Grit (2010)

PG-13 | 110 min | Drama, Western

80 Metascore

A stubborn teenager enlists the help of a tough U.S. Marshal to track down her father's murderer.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin

Votes: 287,170 | Gross: $171.24M

Jeff Bridges Matt Damon Josh Brolin Barry Pepper Hailee Steinfeld

43. Django Unchained (2012)

R | 165 min | Drama, Western

81 Metascore

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington

Votes: 1,229,939 | Gross: $162.81M

Jamie Foxx Christoph Waltz Leonardo DiCaprio Kerry Washington Samuel L. Jackson

44. Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Not Rated | 132 min | Drama, Horror, Western

72 Metascore

In the dying days of the old west, an elderly sheriff and his posse set out to rescue their town's doctor from cannibalistic cave dwellers.

Director: S. Craig Zahler | Stars: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins

Votes: 72,599

Kurt Russell Patrick Wilson Matthew Fox Richard Jenkins Lili Simmons

45. The Hateful Eight (2015)

R | 168 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

68 Metascore

In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter and his prisoner find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins

Votes: 450,186 | Gross: $54.12M

Samuel L. Jackson Kurt Russell Jennifer Jason Leigh Walton Goggins Demián Bichir



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