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100 best John Wayne movies

  • #40. Rooster Cogburn

    - Director: Stuart Millar
    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - Runtime: 108 min

    Reprising the role that won him an Oscar in 1969’s “True Grit,” Wayne plays Rooster Cogburn in this 1975 film of the same name. Starring opposite Wayne is actress Katharine Hepburn as a woman named Eula Goodnight. After Eula’s village is raided by a group of thugs, she and Cogburn make it their mission to dish out some good old-fashioned southern justice.

  • #39. The Alamo

    - Director: John Wayne
    - IMDb user rating: 6.9
    - Runtime: 162 min

    John Wayne’s directorial debut, 1960’s “The Alamo,” retells the historic 1836 battle where 156 Texan soldiers square off against a Mexican army of 7,000. Wayne had reportedly wanted to make the film since 1945. However, it would take more than a decade before he got his chance. In addition to directing and producing “The Alamo,” Wayne naturally stars in the lead role as Col. Davy Crockett.

  • #38. The Drop Kick

    - Director: Millard Webb
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Runtime: 62 min

    His previous experience of playing football for the University of Southern California made Wayne (then known as Marion Morrison) a perfect extra in 1927’s “The Drop Kick,” a silent film about a college footballer who gets embroiled in a local scandal. Fun fact: Wayne’s football scholarship (before he was injured) covered his entire tuition, a whopping $280.

  • #37. Island in the Sky

    - Director: William A. Wellman
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Runtime: 109 min

    Long before movies like “Alive” or “The Grey,” there was “Island in the Sky.” The 1953 film is about a man who crash lands his plane in a frozen wasteland. While stranded, Wayne’s character struggles to keep his men alive while awaiting rescue. Playing an uncredited role in the film is Fess Parker who would later star in the “Davy Crockett” series. Wayne himself played Crockett in “The Alamo.”

  • #36. Angel and the Badman

    - Director: James Edward Grant
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Runtime: 100 min

    Wayne plays a ruthless gunslinger who starts questioning his violent ways in 1947’s “Angel and the Badman.” Prompting his change of heart is a Quaker girl named Penelope Worth, who nurses Wayne’s character back to health after an injury. This was the first film to see Wayne taking on the role of producer, albeit an uncredited one at the time.

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  • #35. North to Alaska

    - Director: Henry Hathaway
    - IMDb user rating: 7.0
    - Runtime: 122 min

    After striking gold in Alaska, a man named George sends his partner Sam (Wayne) back to Seattle to retrieve George’s girlfriend in this 1960 film. Upon discovering that his friend’s old sweetheart is married, Sam returns with another girl to take her place. If you look closely during the final fight scene, you’ll notice that Wayne’s toupee gets knocked off. Fun fact: In 1948 Wayne started regularly wearing a wig.

  • #34. Four Sons

    - Director: John Ford
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Runtime: 100 min

    Directed by John Ford, 1928’s “Four Sons” features an uncredited appearance from Wayne (then Marion Morrison) as a police officer. The film chronicles the lives and hardships of a Bavarian widow and her four sons, three of whom go to war for Germany during World War I while the fourth moves to America. Later, the mother is shunned in her own village after America enters the war because her son who moved away was perceived as an enemy. The movie was remade under the same name in 1940, with the remake being set during World War II instead of World War I.

  • #33. The Shepherd of the Hills

    - Director: Henry Hathaway
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Runtime: 98 min

    In 1941’s “The Shepherd of the Hills,” a moonshiner’s plan to murder the father he never knew is disrupted when a gentle stranger rolls into town. It turns out that there’s more to the stranger than meets the eye. The movie finds Wayne in top form as the Ozark Mountain moonshiner, cursed with the task of seeking vengeance.

  • #32. Tall in the Saddle

    - Director: Edwin L. Marin
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Runtime: 87 min

    A misogynistic cowhand rolls into town to find his employer dead and the locals hostile in 1944’s “Tall in the Saddle.” Bolstered by strong performances and swift pacing, this film stands a cut above the average Western—even if it is rife with genre conventions.

  • #31. The Long Voyage Home

    - Director: John Ford
    - IMDb user rating: 7.1
    - Runtime: 105 min

    Based on four one-act plays by Eugene O’Neill, “The Long Voyage Home” depicts life aboard the British steamer SS Glencairn as the crewmen embark on perilous journeys across the high seas. Dealing with themes of depression, loneliness, and mortality, the film delivers copious amounts of somber drama, punctuated by the occasional fistfights and betrayal. It was nominated for six Academy Awards.

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