John Wayne was an icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age and became famous for his acting roles in war movies and westerns. If you love the flavor of the films from this era, then this great collection of John Wayne’s work should definitely go on your watch list!
1. The Searchers (1956)
In 1868, after being away for eight years and fighting in several wars, Ethan Edwards returns to his brother’s home in West Texas. Shortly after arriving, he falls for a Comanche ploy that lures most of the men away from the homestead and upon returning, he discovers that his brother, nephew and sister-in-law have been slaughtered.
This propels Ethan into a years-long search to recover his two nieces who were abducted by the killers.
2. Rio Bravo (1959)
Sheriff John T. Chance earns the hatred of the powerful Burdette brothers after he arrests the younger one, Joe, for murder. Soon, the oldest brother and his men have the town surrounded and the only ones who can fight them are Chance and the town drunk, who used to be a deputy.
Outnumbered and unprepared, they gather a few friends and decide to make a stand. They face ambushes, tragedy, and old feuds as the Burdette posse continues to pressure Chance to release Joe.
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
For years, Senator Ranse Stoddard is honored as the man who killed Liberty Valance, a brutal gang leader who once terrorized the town of Shinbone. When he returns to the town 25 years later, for the funeral of Tom Doniphon, he is treated like a celebrity.
But the real story begins as a flashback when Stoddard first arrived at Shinbone. Tom finds him after Liberty and his men attack Stoddard and leave him to die. Determined to rid the town of the gang, Stoddard challenges Liberty to a gunfight but years later, he’s still keeping a secret. He is not the man who killed Liberty Valance.
4. Stagecoach (1939)
In 1880, a group of strangers from Tonto, Arizona Territory boards a stagecoach to travel to Lordsburg, New Mexico. Some are normal citizens like the pregnant Lucy Mallory, and officer’s wife, while others are shadier like Dallas, a prostitute thrown out of town.
The story follows their journey which is filled with danger, charming outlaws, and the hope of finding new beginnings.
5. True Grit (1969)
In 1880, Mattie Ross loses her father to murder. Determined to apprehend the killer, Tom Chaney, she hires the ageing Reuben Cogburn who is also a US Marshall. He recruits a young Texas Ranger to help him find Chaney who has gone into hiding deep inside Indian Territory. To the chagrin of both law officials, Mattie tags along and refuses to leave.
Over the next few days, the trio has to survive outlaws, gunfights, and the dangers of the untamed wilderness to give Mattie the justice she longs for.
6. Red River (1948)
Thomas Dunson’s dream to start a cattle ranch in Texas is fraught with problems, beginning with the murder of his lover who perished when an Indian attack descended on her travelling group. Dunson adopts the sole survivor, a young boy called Matt who grows up on the ranch.
Fourteen years later, Dunson is forced by local poverty to take his cattle to Missouri for a good price. But the cattle drive turns into a dark adventure as mutiny, death, and personal conflict threaten to turn Dunson and Matt against each other.
7. The Quiet Man (1952)
When retired boxer Sean Thornton returns to his birthplace of Innisfree, in Ireland, his plan is to buy back his family home. However, the decision gives him more than he has bargained for. Upon arrival, he falls in love with Mary Kate but her brother, Will, is a powerful figure in the area who not only buys Sean’s home but also stirs trouble between the new lovers.
Sean has to overcome his ignorance of Irish customs and the tragic reason why he stopped boxing in order to finally stand up to Will.
8. The Shootist (1976)
John Bernard Books is a famous gunfighter and ex-sheriff. But when he returns to Carson City, it is not to fight but to die in peace. The terminally ill Books try to spend his last days at a quiet boarding house but newsmen, old lovers, and even gunfighters arrive to kill him in order to become famous themselves.
At one point, Books decides to choose his own way out and invites the town’s three deadliest shooters to fight him on the same day.
9. El Dorado (1966)
The town of El Dorado has bad memories for hired gun Cole Thornton. Years ago, he almost accepted a job to force the honest McDonald family off their land and it was a day that had tragic results for both him and the family.
Thornton is determined to avoid El Dorado but when fate forces him to return, he gets a chance to make amends with the McDonalds and also rid the town of the powerful man who hired him all those years ago.
10. The Cowboys (1972)
When his ranch hands abandon his upcoming 400-mile cattle drive to join a gold rush, rancher William Andersen is forced to hire a group of schoolboys. Before he sets off, a bad feeling makes Andersen reject an offer made by Asa Watts and his men to help with the drive.
The journey is a coming of age event for the boys as they learn the ropes of the trade, the dangers of the wild, and the ways of revenge when Watts reveals his true nature as a cattle thief.