5. The Wind (1928)
> Starring: Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Montagu Love
> Directed by: Victor Sjöström
> Runtime: 95 min
> Available on: Criterion Channel
Lillian Gish stars in this silent film from 1928 as Letty Mason, a young woman from Virginia who experiences numerous hardships after moving west to live with her cousin. Writing for AMC Filmsite critic Tim Dirks called it “one of Lillian Gish’s greatest achievements in a powerfully dramatic silent film.” Though the movie may appeal to fewer modern viewers due to its age compared to some of the other Westerns on this list, it’s a gem of its era and has a perfect Freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes.
4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
> Directed by: John Huston
> Runtime: 126 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Video, DIRECTV, FandangoNOW, Microsoft Store, HBO Max
Greed and paranoia are personified in Humphrey Bogart’s character Fred C. Dobbs in his search for gold in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” John Huston won Academy Awards for director and adapted screenplay, and his father Walter won for best supporting actor, the first father and son to do so. Critics gave the movie a perfect Freshness score, with Rotten Tomatoes users delivering a 93% rating.
3. Greed (1924)
> Starring: Gibson Gowland, Zasu Pitts, Jean Hersholt
> Directed by: Erich von Stroheim
> Runtime: 140 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Amazon Video
Directed by Erich von Stroheim and based on a novel by Frank Norris, “Greed” tells the story of the unpleasant fallout a trio experiences in early 20th-century San Francisco after winning the lottery. Despite von Stroheim never completing his epic vision, the groundbreaking Western is described on Rotten Tomatoes as “one of the greatest accomplishments of the silent film era.” On the site 100% of critics and 91% of audiences liked it.
2. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
> Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
> Directed by: Sergio Leone
> Runtime: 165 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, AMC on Demand, Amazon Prime Video, DIRECTV, Crackle, Popcornflix, Redbox, Microsoft Store, Pluto TV, HBO Max, CBS All Access Amazon Channel
Italian director Sergio Leone helmed this Western epic that utilizes techniques from Westerns of the past as a means of paying tribute to the genre. Charles Bronson plays a man who hunts a cold-blooded killer played by Henry Fonda. The actors’ performances, as well as an effecting score by Ennio Morricone, helped the film score ratings of 95% from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes.
1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
> Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
> Directed by: Sergio Leone
> Runtime: 178 min
> Available on: Apple iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, Redbox, Microsoft Store, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, FandangoNOW
The poster child of the Spaghetti Western, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” tells the story of a tenuous alliance of gunslingers, among them the laconic Clint Eastwood, looking for gold. The film’s gripping story, memorable performances, and iconic Ennio Morricone score make it a favorite among Western fans. The movie has exceptional approval ratings of 97% from both critics and users on Rotten Tomatoes.
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