The MoFo Top 100 Westerns: Countdown

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The Western is as old as cinema itself. But while the form and tropes may be familiar there are seemingly limitless ways to use, re-use, and subvert them. Just look at the variety in the work of the acknowledged titans of the genre: Ford, Hawks, Mann, Leone, Peckinpah, Eastwood. Generations of cinematic artists have used the language and meter of the Western to spin all kinds of yarns, and this tradition continues today. I expect Westerns will be part of movies for as long as they make ‘em. Whether you are a hardcore fan who delights in every subgenre and era or a more casual film fan who may not profess much love for or knowledge of Westerns, this genre has spawned bonafide classics that have stood the test of time and its influences are in the very DNA of movies.

Here at the Movie Forums we figured it was time to attempt to name some the best of the best. First off, here’s which MoFos participated in forging this list…

That is sixty-seven members of our forums. On a personal note, thank you again to each of you for engaging in the fun and challenge of making a list. Six months ago in THIS thread we began the process of discussing the genre, naming some personal favorites we hoped others might consider, and determining eligibility. A pair of Hall of Fame screening groups were also erected (clicky HERE and HERE) for deeper dives and reviews of selected titles. Then it took some soul searching and rearranging of bests and favorites.

Those sixty-seven members turned in ballots of between ten and twenty-five titles, weighted so that your first choice was designated 25 points on down to 1 point for your twenty-fifth choice. The ballots were collected and the scores tabulated. A total of 275 different titles were named on those 67 ballots, 17 of which were partial ballots of at least ten but less than the full twenty-five spots allotted. The collective Top 100 will be revealed here in this thread. Once completed it will forever reside in the LISTS section of the site, which allows users to keep track of what they have seen and devolp watchlists.

For those who may be unfamiliar with our countdown process that we've developed over time for all of these site-wide lists, each day two titles will be revealed, starting at 100 and working our way down to the film that garnered the most points. Once we reach the Top 10 the pace will slow to only one title being revealed per day. This builds some suspense, prolongs the fun, and allows each movie its opportunity to be examined, exalted, decried, and debated. I will also reveal the list of “one-pointers”. These are films that occupied the twenty-fifth spot on a ballot and wound up as that title’s sole vote.

If you are one of the sixty-seven members who turned in a ballot you must not reveal what is on your list or its placement there until it is either revealed on the countdown or the countdown has finished. As your choices make the countdown it is fair game to say where it fell on your ballot. Whether you turned in a ballot or not, speculate away on the order and what may or may not make the cut of our Top 100.

The scoring was done by Ennio Morricone, of course.

That's a joke, Kids. Each title accumulated points depending on where it placed on the individual ballots. When titles ended with the same totals, tie-breaking procedures were implemented to determine final placement on the collective list. The initial tie break goes to the film that had more votes and the second tie break goes to the film with the single highest-point vote. For example: if three movies finished with 100 points each and film#1 appeared on twelve ballots while film#2 and film#3 appeared on eight ballots each, film#1 places highest. If film#2’s highest of its eight votes was a third-place ballot choice and film#3’s highest of its eight votes was as a fifth-place ballot choice, film#2 would place above film#3.

A running tally of the revealed titles will be logged below as the list grows. Each title there will be clickable and will lead to its reveal in this thread. You will also notice IMDb and Wikipedia icons below each revealed title. These are quick links for more information on the movies.

And that’s about it! Be passionate about your opinions while remaining respectful of others. Let’s saddle up and do this. YEEEEEEE-HAAAAWWWW!

"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

100. The Sons of Katie Elder (1965)
99. Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
98. Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
97. Warlock (1959)
96. North to Alaska (1960)
95. Slow West (2015)
94. The Unforgiven (1960)
93. The Misfits (1961)
92. The Dark Valley (2014)
91. Oklahoma! (1955)

90. Duck, You Sucker! (1971)
89. Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)
88. Hombre (1967)
87. The Hanging Tree (1959)
86. The Naked Spur (1953)
85. The Big Gundown (1966)
84. The Furies (1950)
83. The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970)
82. ¡Three Amigos! (1986)
81. The Bravados (1958)

80. The Mercenary (1968)
79. My Name is Nobody (1973)
78. The Gold Rush (1925)
77. Day of the Outlaw (1959)
76. The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
75. Pale Rider (1985)
74. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)
73. Pursued (1947)
72. Maverick (1994)
71. The Shooting (1966)

70. The Frisco Kid (1979)
69. Westworld (1973)
68. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
67. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
66. The Grey Fox (1982)
65. El Topo (1970)
64. Django (1966)
63. Ride the High Country (1962)
62. City Slickers (1991)
61. Young Guns (1988)

60. The Great Train Robbery (1903)
59. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)
58. Meek's Cutoff (2010)
57. The Shootist (1976)
56. Red River (1948)
55. Back to the Future Part III (1990)
54. Bone Tomahawk (2015)
53. Winchester '73 (1950)
52. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)
51. Giant (1956)

50. The Cowboys (1972)
49. Hud (1963)
48. 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
47. El Dorado (1967)
46. The Proposition (2005)
45. The Professionals (1966)
44. My Darling Clementine (1946)
43. Shane (1953)
42. The Quick and the Dead (1995)
41. Rango (2011)

40. The Gunfighter (1950)
39. Little Big Man (1970)
38. True Grit (1969)
37. Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
36. Open Range (2003)
35. Hell or High Water (2016)
34. The Great Silence (1968)
33. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
32. One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
31. High Plains Drifter (1973)

30. Johnny Guitar (1954)
29. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
28. Tombstone (1993)
27. The Big Country (1958)
26. Dead Man (1995)
25. The Revenant (2015)
24. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
23. Stagecoach (1939)
22. True Grit (2010)
21. Blazing Saddles (1974)

20. The Assassination of Jesse James by
the Coward Robert Ford
19. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
18. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
17. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
16. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
15. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
14. There Will Be Blood (2007)
13. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
12. Django Unchained (2012)
11. The Hateful Eight (2015)

10. Rio Bravo (1959)
9. The Wild Bunch (1969)
8. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
7. Dances with Wolves (1990)
6. High Noon (1952)
5. The Searchers (1956)
4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
3. Unforgiven (1992)
2. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

These are your #101 through #110. Man of the West (1958, Anthony Mann) had 35 points, The Sisters Brothers (2018, Jacques Audiard) and The Sun Shines Bright (1953, John Ford) had 34 points, Lonely Are the Brave (1962, David Miller) had 33 points, Broken Arrow (1950, Delmer Daves), The Wind (1928, Victor Sjöström), and Wind River (2017, Taylor Sheridan) had 32 points, Dirty Little Billy (1972, Stan Dragoti) had 31 points, while No Name on the Bullet (1959, Jack Arnold) and Wyatt Earp (1994, Lawrence Kasdan) had 30 points each.

I don’t think I’ve even heard of the The Sons of Katie Elder, but I can’t stand John Wayne so I wouldn’t have watched it if I had heard of it. I don’t think I’ve seen Geronimo.

We’re doing four today? I’ve not seen 98 or 97 either. I don’t like Clint Eastwood as an actor so I doubt I’d like Two Mules.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
All four are legit although I didn't vote for them. Sister Sara is my fave of the four.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Yes, as you can see I am revealing four today. The next pair, #96 and #95, will be revealed on Monday. I should have the one-pointers by then, too.

Notice the final three films to place on the countdown all had 35 points each for their total. A fourth film also had 35 points. The tie-breaking procedures determined which placed highest and which of the four got bumped. Geronimo: An American Legend, Man of the West, Two Mules for Sister Sara, and The Sons of Katie Elder all finished with 35 points. Eastwood and MacLaine in Two Mules for Sister Sara appeared on four different ballots, the other three only had two votes a piece. That automatically raised Sister Sara up to #98. Of their two votes each, Man of the West's highest was eighth place, Katie Elders' was a sixth, and one of the two people who voted for Geronimo had it as their number two pick. That left Geronimo: An American Legend at #99, The Sons of Katie Elder at #100, and Man of the West on the outside looking in at #101.

Warlock was on only two ballots, but its fifth and tenth place votes added up to two more points than the pack at 35.

Yup I'm a big western fan So will be following the thread closely. I've seen 3 of the first 4. Some of these I've wrote up in my Western Log.

The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) Just Duke and the boys making another western. Nothing is taken serious, nor does it ever feel like anything of importance happens. Even Dean Martin doesn't get to do anything interesting as he did in Rio Bravo.

Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
Glad to see this one make the list.
Clint plays the same scrawling western character that he made famous, but now is paired with Shirley MacLaine in an action fun western. Oh, don't get me wrong it the opening minutes Sister Sara is almost raped by 4 bad hombres, but good ole Clint dispatches them with his trusty Colt SA revolver. In fact it is the same Clint character we've seen in the spaghetti westerns, only he's now bumped into a whiskey drinking, cigar chomping nun

I thought this was a good movie. It was a bit different and yet it still delivered what one would come to expect from a Clint Eastwood western. Filmed entirely in Mexico and the dry scrub brush lands looks great as does some of the old ruined remains of Spanish/Mexican hacienda's that they filmed in.

Warlock (1959)
I've seen this one a couple of times and it stands out for a couple of reasons. First it's a real good western tale of revenge, where a town is under siege from one group of bad guys, then they hire a pair of gunmen to clean up the town, only to find the hired guns are even more tyrannical. There's also an odd for 1950s, relationship between Henry Fonda's and Anthony Quinn's characters, that some say suggest they are lovers. Who knows?

None of these made my list, but Warlock and Two Mules for Sister Sara came close.

love, Love, LOVE the layout and graphic design, Holden! Amazing work and presentation!

Unsurprisingly, I haven’t seen nor heard of any of these four films... Westerns is one of my weakest genres even though I do like them. I just need to see more. Hopefully this list will help me with that.

Anyway, I’ll probably pop in here with each reveal to say “haven’t seen it, haven’t heard of it” but hopefully there’ll be some interesting stuff going on until the, like, Top 20 when I can finally post about a movie I voted for.

It's already been mentioned a few times but it's worth saying again: the layout and graphics of this list are absolutely gorgeous! It might be the best looking Countdown yet.

I've seen Geronimo when it was released but obviously remember nothing. Considering it's a Walter Hill film I maybe should have rewatched it for this event but didn't even remember such a film exists. I may also have seen Two Mules for Sister Sara (most likely on TV when I was a kid). I don't think I've seen the other two. None of these was on my ballot.

Great work Holden, looks fabulous as I expected. Awesome job.

I've only seen Katie Elder properly from these four films but I think it's a great film and I did consider it for the bottom positions of my list. Absolutely love John Wayne and Dean Martin. Any Western about comradery normally goes down well with me. From what I remember I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the film considering it's not always discussed as one of the very greatest, and to be honest with you I find Hathaway's True Grit a little bit overrated and ordinary.

Think I've seen Two Mules too but maybe when I was younger in parts as I remember virtually nothing.

Can't believe that Man of the West just missed out! I'll have to check my list to see where I had it exactly but I'm sure it was in the top ten. What a brilliant film. My brother and I watched it recently and both loved it, it's one that's grown on me too. I love Anthony Mann's films so I hope that he's represented on this list quite heavily despite this omission.