25 best Western movies ever
My Darling Clementine (1946)
John Ford's classic Western plays fast and loose with the details of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but its tale of lawmen and outlaws is the perfect expression of the clash between civilisation and the Wild West. Henry Fonda's on top form as Wyatt Earp, introducing the values of law and order to the frontier, while Ford uses the landscape of Monument Valley to paint a romantic picture of the Old West.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Brat Pitt stars as Jesse James, the infamous frontier outlaw – but it's Casey Affleck who steals the film as his associate Robert Ford. A shifty, twitchy fellow who hero-worships Pitt's bandit leader, he's a modern celebrity stalker transposed to the world of the Old West – and as his obsession curdles into hatred of his idol, so director Andrew Dominik deconstructs the myth of the outlaw hero.
"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend," as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance put it – and Tombstone is an appropriately operatic retelling of one of America's founding myths – the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Kurt Russell is his usual grizzled self as Wyatt Earp, but it's Val Kilmer who steals the show, bringing a boozy, woozy charm to the consumptive Doc Holliday. "I'm your huckleberry…"
Winchester '73 (1950)
The first collaboration between director Anthony Mann and James Stewart, this noir-ish revenge film follows Stewart’s pursuit of the man who killed his father – and stole the titular rifle. In a neat storytelling gimmick, we follow the rifle as it passes from one hand to another – a handy way for Mann to give us a whistle-stop tour of the Wild West, from Indians to dancehall girls.
True Grit (2010)
Purists will always argue that the 1969 version of True Grit was better, but they’re only saying that because it had John Wayne in it. The Coens pay willing tribute to the dusty genre, with Jeff Bridges in fine form as the sozzled US Marshal Rooster Cogburn – but it's Hailee Steinfeld's steely Mattie Ross that gives the 21st century cut its compelling human heart.