Best Western Movies Directed by John Ford

Cheyenne Autumn

John Ford (1894-1973) is probably the most influential of western film directors. He made his first western film in 1917 (The Tornado) and the last in 1964 (Cheyenne Autumn). His movies add more ingredients to the genre - the nostalgia and sorrowfulness are often present and sets a mood beyond the traditional adventures with cowboys and Indians.

Under his lifetime his non-Western movies were higher regarded, but today John Ford is primarily associated with westerns and his masterpieces helped advance the status of the genre. One important step to achieve a higher status was made with Stagecoach (1939). The movie is partly shot in Monument Valley, a milieu that impacted the mood and perspective in the film. Film critic Peter French writes in the book Cowboy Metaphysics: “The grandeur of the great outdoors virtually swallows up the human stories, gives them perspective against the enormous monoliths of raw nature.”

Below is a list of ten of Fords movies in the western genre, the best according to This article is apart of the Western Genre section of this site.

10 3 Godfathers
John Wayne in one of his many western collaborations with John Ford. Although not one of the best - the story has plenty of sentimental moments and the religious overtones will probably feel slightly distant for viewers of today. 
Year: 1948

9 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
Some are considering this movie as one of Ford absolutely best movies, but it could also be argued that is showing many sentimental elements and the heroically appearance by John Wayne in the leading role are somewhat tame.
Year: 1949

8 Fort Apache
Another film by Ford with John Wayne in a leading role. John Wayne plays a Captain in U.S. cavalry and thanks to a bad leadership from the commandant of the regiment he is forced to fight the Apache Indians.
Year: 1948

7 Wagon Master
The plot is set around a wagon train of Mormons and Travis Blue and Sandy Owens are hired to guide them to the wanted location. The richness of this motion picture comes from many colorful characters which different aspirations that are creating a dynamic configuration. 
Year: 1950

6 Cheyenne Autumn
This is John Ford’s last movie and it could be placed in the category of revisionist western movies, implying an attempt to reevaluate the fixed view on a subject, which in western movies often is the relation between Indians and white men. This is an epic film (154 minutes long) and includes an ambition to tell a story devoted to historical facts. It is a story of how the Cheyenne tribe in late 1870s is trying to establish a future life for their coming generations in America.
Year: 1964

5 My Darling Clementine
John Ford is one of the most recognized western directors of all time and his movies always bear something of the old American history of the west. In My Darling Clementine, he is telling his version of the famous Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday camaraderie.
Year: 1946

4 Stage Coach
One of the most important movies in John Ford's early career, Stage Couch establishes some of the essential features of the genres. Ford uses the desolated Monument Valley as fond of a human drama in which persons from different background are traveling through the waste land by a stage coach.
Year: 1939

3 How the West Was Won
John Ford is only one of many directors in this western. As the name of the movie imply it is an overview of a crucial phase in the North American history. For them that enjoys western that are driven more by depicting an old world than no longer exist than by action this is a strong recommendation.
Year: 1962

2 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
John Ford’s late western film is loaded with symbols and rich of nuances. A senator arrives at Shinbone for attending the funeral of Tom Doniphon. The question is why such a simple man known for drinking attracts a visit from a Washington senator.
Year: 1962

1 The Searchers
This is a monumental western movie by its complexity and as storyteller of a hazardous and bygone world. John Wayne comes and goes out through the screen in the intro and the final, which renders two classic film sequences.
Year: 1956

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