The Wild West movie genre is an intimidating one to get into.
There’s a long and storied history of movies set in the Wild West, and a lot of them go too heavy on the Western themes and tropes. They also have a certain aesthetic that may not appeal to viewers who aren’t used to watching this kind of movie.
But there are a handful of Wild West movies that transcend the genre and deserve watching even if you aren’t a fan of Westerns.
These movies are great because they have Western flavor without going too hard on the Wild West tropes. And even if you ignore all of that, these movies are downright well-written, well-acted, and well-crafted—hence why they transcend the genre.
Without further ado, here are some of the best Wild West movies everyone should watch at least once. Who knows? You might find yourself becoming a fan of Western movies in the end!
Tombstone is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I say that as someone who doesn’t consider myself a fan of Western movies.
Sure, this movie is a Western fan’s Western movie in many ways, but it has a certain quality that makes it feel more like a badass action movie than a plodding Western.
Add in the incredible performances by Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, and the rest of the all-star cast, and you have a movie that’s tailor-made for non-Western fans.
Not to mention the fact that the movie is just so quotable, thanks to all the fantastic lines written for Val Kilmer’s portrayal of the lovable gunman, Doc Holliday.
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Maverick is another blow-away Wild West movie that doesn’t really fit into the mold of what we think of as a Western.
It has lots of modern sensibilities, which makes it perfect for anyone who doesn’t want a run-of-the-mill “Old West” movie. And while it isn’t a full-on spoof of Western movies, it does feature enough comedic charm to feel like it’s poking fun.
The other thing that makes this movie stand out is the cast. Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner all put in great work in their roles. Not to mention cameos by Corey Feldman, Danny Glover, Reba McEntire, Waylon Jennings, and Clint Black!
Django Unchained features plenty of Western-like characters and fights that resemble traditional Wild West movies, but everything else about this movie screams “action movie”!
Quentin Tarantino helms this revenge tale, and it’s a solid movie that fans and non-fans of Westerns can both enjoy. It may not feel like a usual Western movie, but it has just enough Wild West tropes to hook you in—and maybe turn you into a fan.
The cast of Django Unchained is what really elevates it. The titular Django is played by Jamie Foxx, and his foil is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. There’s also Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington rounding out an incredible cast.
4. 3:10 to Yuma
Christian Bale and Russell Crowe star in this movie, and they both do a great job of making the Western genre their own.
3:10 to Yuma is actually a remake of a film from 1957, but it’s more than “just” a remake as it feels quite different from the original—more suited for modern movie watchers.
The film has plenty of fun action-packed Western shootouts, but the actual plot of the movie is more like a thriller than a Western. It does a great job of bringing the two different genres together, which makes it a must-see film!
If you’ve seen the movies mentioned above and still aren’t sold on what the Western genre brings to the table, then you should just watch Blazing Saddles and enjoy its deconstruction.
This classic movie from 1974 sets out on a mission of satire. Its only goal is to mock the various tropes of the Western genre—and even though it’s old, the movie still holds up remarkably well.
And the most interesting thing? Watching Blazing Saddles may actually make you realize that Wild West movies aren’t so bad. Making light of them puts them in a different perspective, which might end up being what sells you on them after all!