The American film Institute's list goes like this: #10 - Cat Ballou, #9 - Stagecoach, #8 - McCabe and Mrs. Miller, #7 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, #6 - The Wild Bunch, #5 - Red River, #4 -Unforgiven, #3 - Shane, #2 - High Noon, #1 - The Searchers.
Here's my list:
#10 - McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1969) - My goodness was this movie painful. I literally fast forwarded through parts and didn't miss a thing because they were just shots of people walking to places. There was nothing that made an extended action interesting or engaging. This is one of the least entertaining movies I've ever seen.
#9 - The Wild Bunch (1969) - This is just a hair better than McCabe and Mrs. Miller. I barely remember it, it was a chore to get through and also about the darkness within. Note: They're made in the same year.
#8 - Shane (1953) - Shane wasn't filmed well and the acting wasn't any good and just dragged on and on. I really didn't notice anything in it that made it stand out as good to me. The only great thing that came out of it is an imitation of the whiny kid in it. "Shane..."
#7 - High Noon (1952) - I like the Cold War allegory and the fact that this movie is in real time, but the climax totally ruins it for me. There's all this build up and then a sudden, practically unopposed shooting. I was extremely unsatisfied with the end. It should be noted that I very well could be totally missing teh point and that the anticlimax was totally intentional.
#6 - Red River (1948) - I like the tragic figure that John Wayne plays here and I like the story and the shots of cattle, but I can't stand the shoehorned-in romance, even though I get that Matt is breaking the cycle of moral decay by not making the same mistakes his father did.
#5 - Cat Ballou (1965) - Technically Red River is probably a better movie than Cat Ballou, but Cat is just so fantastic. I think this movie is funny and charming and very 60's. I like Jane Fonda in it, since I missed that period where she was awful, and Lee Marvin is amazing. The best part of this movie is the great chorus - They're what pushes it over the edge into memorable. And I can't get their song out of my head.
#4 - Stagecoach (1939) - I really like a character piece, and this is a great one. Everyone's wonderfully developed or at least entertaining. John Wayne is charming and I like that this movie states that redemption is possible, instead of futile. I like this surprisingly current-sounding speech from the banker:
"I don't know what the government is coming to. Instead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business...I have a slogan that should be blazoned on every newspaper in this
country: America for the Americans! The government must not interfere
with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking.
Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a
businessman for president"
This was written in 1939. Some things never change, huh?
#3 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) - This was a wonderful, wonderful movie. Robert Redford and Paul Newman are charming and it's funny and I liked watching every minute of it. The guy who plays Lurch is in this movie - As in, from The Addams Family. You can't beat that. I really like the tone of this movie and I liked the jokes and the storyline, even though it does get "Raindrops are Falling on My Head" stuck in my head.
#2 - The Searchers (1956) - I really like the secondary characters in this movie, and there are a lot of very strong comedic parts, believe it or not. I also liked John Wayne in it, the cinematography, and the scenery. I thought the Indians and the Mexicans in it were silly though, and it had a little too much melodrama in it acting-wise for it to be really believable at all.
#1 - Unforgiven (1992) - This movie is all kinds of awesome. The acting's great, every single one of the characters is compelling and entertaining, the story's all amazing, and Morgan Freeman is in it. And that's awesome. This movie makes me want to watch ever single Spaghetti Western ever. If someone asked me if I wanted to watch Unforgiven right now I would absolutely say yes, and that is a sign of a good movie.