Howdy, partner! Do you have the fastest mind this side of the Mississippi, or are you as slow as molasses in January? If you were to compare all genres of movies, the most wholly American of them all would definitely be the western films. While to the uninformed viewer, westerns may seem like they’re all just about shooting guns and riding horses through the desert, the genre has far more depth than that.
Maybe you’d prefer a more lighthearted story about a pardoned stagecoach robber who becomes a government agent and then marries an inexperienced unsuspecting east-coast dentist to join a wagon train and catch the smugglers? What about a bounty hunting scam with uneasy alliances and rivalries over a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery?
From thrilling and dramatic adventures to desperate tales of redemption and sacrifice, or from passionate quests for romance and love to hilarious western comedies, the western genre truly has something for everyone to enjoy. These types of westerns and more are covered in this horse opera quiz.
So are you a city slicker or are you a true cowboy at heart? C’mon, let’s take this classic western quiz and find out – head ’em up, move ’em out!
The final movie in the "Dollars Trilogy," "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" again features Clint Eastwood in the lead role. It was also the last time he worked with director Sergio Leone, after getting annoyed with the Italian’s perfectionist ways.
Although John Wayne had already acted in many movies at that point, it was "Stagecoach" that set him on his way to becoming a Hollywood legend. The movie, directed by John Ford, is cited by Orson Welles as a major influence - he watched it over 40 times before shooting his epic, "Citizen Kane."
"Shane," starring Alan Ladd, was a typical western of the 1950's. It cost so much to shoot and produce that at one point Paramount negotiated with Howard Hughes to buy the rights to the movie. Hughes cooled his interest in the deal. The film was a massive success in the end, turning a profit for Paramount. It was the first movie ever to be projected onto a flat screen.
"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is widely regarded as one of the best Westerns of all time and ranked 50th on the American Film Institute's greatest American films. It won four of the seven Academy Awards it was nominated for.
"McCabe & Mrs. Miller," starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, was based on the book, "McCabe," by Edmund Naughton. Altman chose to shoot the film practically in sequential order, something not done often in movie-making.
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," directed by John Ford, starred John Wayne and James Stewart in the lead roles. There was much tension on set between Ford and Wayne during production, even though they had made many movies together.
The second in the "Dollars Trilogy," "For a Few Dollars More" is considered by many critics to be the best of the three movies, even though at the time of its release, it was not that well received.
1967's "Hombre," a revisionist Western directed by Martin Ritt, sees Paul Newman in the lead role. Newman had very little dialogue in the movie, with his role conveyed through the character's mannerisms and actions. A novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard served as the inspiration for this Western.
"High Noon," although not well received at the time, is now recognized as one of the best westerns ever made. On its release, it was very different from other Westerns, with no high-speed horse chases, beautiful vistas, or canteen brawls. Gary Cooper starred in the lead role but not before the likes of John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Marlon Brando, Charleton Heston and Montgomery Cliff had turned it down. Peck considered his decision not to take the part as the biggest mistake of his acting career.
"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" is the second of three of director John Ford's "Cavalry" trilogy, all starring John Wayne. Painter and sculptor Frederic Remington's work was the inspiration for cinematographer Winton Hoch's imagery in the movie. He won an Academy Award for his work.
1950's "The Gunfighter" saw director Henry King and Gregory Peck team up for their second Western together. Peck's role was originally offered to John Wayne, who turned it down.
Released in 1969, "The Wild Bunch" is ranked as the sixth best Western of all time by the American Film Institute. It placed director Sam Peckinpah firmly on the map as an up-and-coming American director at the time.
A film by Joel and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men" is recognized as a neo-Western, neo-noir thriller, despite its setting in the 1980s. The movie turned Javier Bardem into a Hollywood star, thanks to his brilliant portrayal of hitman Anton Chigurh.
Another John Ford directed Western with John Wayne in the lead role, 1948's "Fort Apache" is the first of Ford's "Cavalry" trilogy, which included "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and "Rio Grande," filmed in 1949 and 1950, respectively.
"Rio Bravo," released in 1959 and starring John Wayne, was based on the short story of the same name by B.H. McCampbell. Featuring John Wayne in the lead role, this movie also starred singer Dean Martin and teen heart-throb, Ricky Nelson. It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2014.
"The Searchers," a 1956 John Ford movie, features John Wayne in the lead role. Although it was a massive commercial success, it received no Academy Award nominations. Certain aspects of the movie were a big influence on many of George Lucas' scenes in "Star Wars."
"Red River," considered one of the best Westerns ever made, is based on a Borden Chase story called "Blazing Guns On The Chisholm Trail." The movie centers on John Wayne's character, Thomas Dunson, and his journey to Texas to set up a cattle ranch. Naturally, this is easier said than done. "Red River" later inspired the TV show "Rawhide".
"Bad Day at Black Rock" featured Spencer Tracy in the lead role and is considered to be part Western, part film noir. It was well received by critics and made close to $1 million profit, an impressive amount for a 1950s movie.
"They Died with their Boots On" was made in 1941 and starred Errol Flynn as General George Custer. Despite many inaccuracies in the storyline, it was one of the biggest films at the box office that year and saw Olivia de Havilland star opposite Flynn for the eighth time.
"Will Penny," released in 1967, saw Charlton Heston in the lead role. Heston has cited this role as the favorite of his career. "Will Penny" is considered one of the best Westerns ever filmed.
Filmed mostly in Mexico, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" was directed by John Huston and saw Humphrey Bogart in the lead role. Huston won the Best Director award at the 1949 Academy Awards, while his father, Walter, won Best Supporting Actor, the first ever father-son win in the history of the awards.
"The Ox-Bow Incident" sees Henry Fonda in the lead role as Gil Carter. The role was initially offered to Gary Cooper, but he turned it down. The movie was adapted from a 1940 novel of the same name, by author Walter van Tilburg Clark.
A directorial debut for cinematographer William Fraker, "Monte Walsh" starred Lee Marvin and Jack Palance. In 2003, Tom Selleck starred in a made-for-TV remake.
"Broken Arrow," released in 1950 starred James Stewart in the lead role and was directed by Delmar Daves. It never won an Academy Award, despite three nominations, but did win a Golden Globe for Best Film for Promoting International Understanding, for portraying Native Americans in a sympathetic manner.
Featuring Kirk Douglas in the lead role and also starring Walter Matthau, "Lonely Are the Brave" is a Western set in modern times. Douglas said that playing John W. 'Jack' Burns was his favorite role ever.
1950's "Rio Grande" is the final of director John Ford's "Cavalry" trilogy, all starring John Wayne as Kirby Yorke. It was shot on location in Monument Valley and other areas of Utah.
James Stewart wanted to ensure that he was skilled with the iconic Winchester rifle, the subject of the film, and spent many hours practicing his shooting before filming began. Although he became an excellent shot, all trick shooting in the movie was carried out by expert Herb Parsons.
1972's "Ulzana's Raid," directed by Robert Aldrich, features Burt Lancaster in the lead role. It was very well received, with many critics placing it in the best movies of that year. Its portrayal of the U.S. Cavalry chasing brutal, raiding Apaches is seen as a metaphor for the United States’ participation in the war in Vietnam.
"Blood on the Moon," directed by Robert Wise and starring Robert Mitchum, is considered to be a psychological Western. Shot in black and white, it is based on Luke Short's book, "Gunman's Chance."
Critics of "Major Dundee" have often pointed out the likeness between certain characters in the film and those found in "Moby Dick," the classic novel by Herman Melville. It was not particularly well received on release but has become more popular over time.
The third of five movies directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, "The Naked Spur" received a rare honor for Westerns in the fact that it was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. It did not win an Oscar, however.
The first in what became known as the "Dollar's Trilogy," "A Fistful of Dollars" was shot on a budget of just $200,000, with $15,000 of that money paid to Clint Eastwood for his role. The movie was directed by Sergio Leone, who was credited as having started the Spaghetti Western genre.
"Bend of the River" was the second of five Western collaborations (8 movies in total) between director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart. Although not that well received by critics, it grossed over $3 million at the American box office, of which James Stewart received $750,000, as his contract stipulated he would receive a share of the profits.
A silent movie, "Tumbleweeds" was produced by and starred William S. Hart, a popular silent movie actor in his last ever role.
A 1963 black-and-white Western directed by Martin Ritt and starring Paul Newman, "Hud" was extremely well received by critics and the public alike. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and ended up winning three for Best Actress (Patricia Neal), Best Supporting Actor (Melvyn Douglas), and Best Black and White Cinematography.
"Don't Fence Me In" was one of many movies starring actor and singer, Roy Rogers. It was directed by John English and featured songs by legendary composer, Cole Porter, all sung by Rogers.
1939's "Dodge City," filmed in Technicolor, was directed by Michael Curtiz and starred Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. It was Flynn's first foray into the Western genre.
"The Big Sky," released in 1952, featured Kirk Douglas in the lead role. It was directed and produced by Howard Hawks while Arthur Hunnicutt received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Zeb Calloway.
1962's "Ride the High Country" saw director Sam Peckinpah flip a coin to decide between Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea as the leading man. Fate decided on Scott. Although it was well received in the United States, it faired very well in Europe, under the title "Guns in the Afternoon."
"Open Range" was not Kevin Costner's first foray into the Western genre and, like "Dances with Wolves," it was extremely well received. Costner only wanted Robert Duvall for the role of "Boss" Spearman and if he hadn't agreed, the movie probably would not have seen the light of day.
Walter Brennan won his third Academy Award for his supporting role in "The Westerner," while the movie also received two further nominations.
"Hondo," starring John Wayne and released in 1953, was directed by John Farrow. Interestingly, because the shoot went over its intended filming period, Farrow had to leave due to the fact he was contractually obligated to direct another movie. John Ford stepped in to help out his friend Wayne.
1992's "Unforgiven" is widely regarded as one of the best movies ever made in the Western genre. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards. It won in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Film Editing.
"The Magnificent Seven," directed by John Sturges and released in 1960, is an Old West take on the Japanese movie, "Seven Samurai." Although it didn't receive much praise from the critics at the time, thanks to its plethora of stars it is now regarded as a classic and is the second-most-shown movie by television networks in the United States. A remake with Denzel Washington reached cinemas in 2016.
"The Man from Laramie," directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart, was released in 1955. Its theme song, recorded by two different artists for release in the United States and the United Kingdom, was a number-one hit for Jimmy Young on the UK charts.
Although it originally flopped in America, 1968's "Once upon a Time in the West" is now recognized as a true cinematic tour de force. It appears in many Greatest Movies of All Time lists, including those drawn up by Time and Total Film. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2009, as it was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."
"My Darling Clementine" is considered one of the greatest Westerns ever made and certainly the best from legendary director John Ford. It starred Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp in events leading up to the OK Corral incident, although most of these are heavily dramatized.
"Rancho Notorious," a 1952 Western, was originally supposed to be called "The Legend of Chuck-a-Luck," but the name was changed on instruction from Howard Hughes, who headed up RKO Pictures. This movie starred Marlene Dietrich in the lead role. She plays the leader of a notorious band of criminals living in a hideout called Chuck-a-Luck. It received mixed reviews on release.
The two main female leads in "Johnny Guitar," Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, disliked each other intensely, mostly due to the fact that Crawford had previously dated McCambridge's husband. Director Nicholas Ray did nothing to ease the tensions, feeling that it added to the film. Sterling Hayden, the male lead, swore never to work with Crawford ever again, stating, "There is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into making another picture with Joan Crawford. And I like money."
A silent movie from 1924, "Greed" was directed by Erich von Stroheim. So obsessed with ensuring he got the right shot throughout the movie, Von Stroheim filmed many hours of footage, and his original cut ran over eight hours. "Greed" was filmed in Death Valley, making it one of the first ever movies to be filmed entirely on location and without the use of a studio.