Saddle up compadres, cuz Netflix has the most rootin’-tootin’ gunslingers this side of the Rio Grande. (I apologize for that, but I had to get it out of my system. I’m done, promise.) While westerns have proven to be one of the most enduring genres in film, the focus of this list is on the best westerns currently available on Netflix for streaming. (I hope you like Clint Eastwood, because his movies are 60% of the list.)
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly 4 stars out of 2,223,561 ratings.
The third film in Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, the movie’s musical score became just as iconic as Clint Eastwood’s squint and contributed to it becoming one of the most parodied films in pop culture. Perhaps the greatest western ever made, its central character, the man with no name must compete with a Mexican bandit and ruthless hit man for buried Confederate gold. Rotten Tomatoes 97, IMDB 9.0
Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid 4 stars out of 2,233,227 ratings.
It’s kind of a general rule that westerns take place in the American Southwest, (the Australian Outback can provide a suitable change of locale) but Butch Cassidy dodges this bullet and still succeeds as a fun western that never takes itself too seriously. In order to evade justice, train robbers Butch and Sundance flee to Bolivia in search of greener criminal pastures. Paul Newman and Robert Redford have great comedic chemistry, and in 2003 the movie was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Rotten Tomatoes 93, IMDB 8.2
Lonesome Dove 4.1 stars out of 1,136,608 ratings.
Based on Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the mini-series with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones follows a pair of former Texas Rangers who decide to move a herd of cattle up to Montana. The mini-series boasts an all-star supporting cast with Danny Glover, Anjelica Huston, Barry Corbin, and Steve Buscemi, and won an impressive seven Emmy Awards in 1989. IMDB 8.9
Dances With Wolves 3.9 stars out of 4,444,538 ratings.
Not the typical western as it’s absent of cowboys and train-robbing bandits, Kevin Costner’s 1990 western epic follows a Union Army officer who rejects society to live on the American frontier and befriend a group of Sioux Indians. The movie’s buffalo hunting sequences are incredible to watch and garnered the movie an Oscar for “Best Cinematography”, in addition to its six other Academy Award wins. Rotten Tomatoes 87, IMDB 8.0
Hell On Wheels 4.3 stars out of 908,792 ratings.
Hell On Wheels is never going to pull as wide an audience as AMC’s other darlings, but the series’ diverse mix of characters and cutthroat action make it worthy of a Netflix binge. Former Confederate soldier and slave owner Cullen Bohannon tracks the group of Union soldiers responsible for his murdered his wife in the midst of America’s post-Civil War railroad expansion. IMDB 8.3
A Fistful Of Dollars 3.9 stars out of 901,138 ratings.
Why Netflix doesn’t have the full Dollars trilogy available for streaming is a frustrating mystery, but we can start at the beginning with A Fistful Of Dollars. The story of the man with no name working as a hired gun for two rival gangs in a small town kicked off the spaghetti western sub-genre, and was released in Italy a surprising three years before coming to the States in 1967. Rotten Tomatoes 91, IMDB 8.1
The Man From Snowy River 3.9 stars out of 774,589 ratings.
Snowy River tells the story of a young cowboy who takes a job breaking wild horses and falls in love with the ranch owner’s daughter along the way. It’s a western that cuts back on the fightin’ and drinkin’ and goes more for the romancin’, and in an interesting twist has Kirk Douglas playing two roles as twin brothers who haven’t spoken for years. Rotten Tomatoes 90, IMDB 7.2
Once Upon A Time In The West 3.8 stars out of 754,012 ratings.
Sergio Leone makes his third entry on the list with a revenge story that unfolds with a slow burn and ruthless violence. Leone shows how much he loves the western genre, referencing dozens of other films like 3:10 To Yuma, Shane and Vera Cruz as he tells the story of a sadistic gunslinger working for a railroad tycoon that will let no one stand in the way of his progress. Rotten Tomatoes 95, IMDB 8.7
McLintock! 4.1 stars out of 636,474 ratings.
True Grit and The Searchers might not be offered for streaming, but McLintock! is still a solid entry for the Duke and one of his more comedic western roles. The movie is loosely based on Taming Of The Shrew and tells the story of George McLintock who must juggle problems with his estranged wife, a greedy land agent and crooked bureaucrat who’s trying to displace a tribe of Comanche Indians. Rotten Tomatoes 86, IMDB 7.3
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 4 stars out of 428,277 ratings.
Liberty Valance was a huge hit in 1962 thanks to its two high profile stars, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. The John Ford directed movie was an influence on Sergio Leone and tells the story of a senator returning home and telling the truth of how he made a name for himself killing a notorious criminal. Rotten Tomatoes 93, IMDB 8.1
Two Mules For Sister Sara 3.8 stars out of 512,786 ratings.
In Two Mules Clint Eastwood rescues a nun from being raped and then reluctantly offers to help escort her to her destination. Spoiler alert: Sister Sara isn’t a nun at all, but just a hooker in disguise! Fans of Eastwood’s previous work with Sergio Leone might find this drifter character a bit watered down, but Shirley MacLaine provides some entertaining enough comedic relief to the somewhat predictable plot. Rotten Tomatoes 72, IMDB 7.0
Joe Kidd 3.7 stars out of 419,712 ratings.
Penned by Elmore Leonard, Joe Kidd stars Eastwood as another mysterious drifter hired by a wealthy landowner (Robert Duvall) to track down a group of Mexican revolutionaries. The movie holds up as a solid bread and butter western with both Eastwood and Duvall delivering strong performances, despite the plot becoming a bit muddled. Rotten Tomatoes 52, IMDB 6.4
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