John Wayne’s Best Movies, Ranked

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

8. True Grit (1969)
> Fellow leads: Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Jeremy Slate
> Director: Henry Hathaway
> Domestic box office: $31.13 million

This is the original “True Grit” movie. (The 2010 version stars Jeff Bridges, playing Wayne’s character.) Wayne plays the role of aging U.S. marshal Rooster Cogburn, who is recruited by a teenage girl to find the man who killed her father. The role brought Wayne the only Oscar of his career.

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

7. The Longest Day (1962)
> Fellow leads: Robert Ryan, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda
> Director: Ken Annakin
> Domestic box office: $39.10 million

In this movie, Wayne plays Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoort, who fought in World War II in real life and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and numerous other honors. The film tells the story of D-Day from the perspective of Americans like Vandervoort, as well as Nazis on the other side.

Source: Courtesy of Republic Pictures

6. The Quiet Man (1952)
> Fellow leads: Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond
> Director: John Ford
> Domestic box office: $10.55 million

“The Quiet Man” is a comedy in which Wayne plays a retired American boxer Sean Thornton. Hoping to buy his father’s land, Thornton moves back to the Irish village where he was born. There, he falls in love with a fiery woman whose brother is against the union between her and Thornton.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

5. Stagecoach (1939)
> Fellow leads: Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine
> Director: John Ford
> Domestic box office: N/A

Wayne and Claire Trevor top the bill in director John Ford’s classic 1939 picture “Stagecoach.” The stars appear as wagon train passengers coping with interpersonal conflict as they try to cross through Native American country unscathed. “Stagecoach” was a big budget film at the time and was Ford’s first picture using Monument Valley as a location.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

4. Red River (1948)
> Fellow leads: Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan
> Director: Howard Hawks
> Domestic box office: $9.01 million

“Red River” director Howard Hawks worked briefly with Howard Hughes on “The Outlaw” in 1940. Hughes filed injunctions to stop the premier of “Red River” in 1948. Hughes claimed Hawks copied sections of a gun fight scene between Wayne’s character Thomas Dunson and Montgomery Clift’s Matt Garth. Wayne plays Clift’s stepfather in the film and the pair square off during a cattle drive.