If you love classic Westerns, there are some very good films currently available in the Netflix Instant catalog. Oaters starring cowboy icons like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Randolph Scott are all up for streaming. Since Netflix does periodically change its streaming content, now is the time to saddle up and mosey on over to check out these great classic Westerns.
1. "True Grit" (1969) - The original adaptation of the classic novel by Charles Portis is memorable as the only film for which John Wayne won an Oscar. In addition to costars Glen Campbell and Kim Darby, the Duke is joined by up-and-coming actors like Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper. Director Henry Hathaway was known for his work in the genre but also directed the Marilyn Monroe noir film, "Niagara" (1953), and the Arthurian comic strip adaptation, "Prince Valiant" (1954). The 2010 version of "True Grit" is also currently on streaming if you want to compare the two.
2. "Shane" (1953) - Also adapted from a classic novel, "Shane" stars Alan Ladd as a roving hero with a mysterious past. Inspired by chivalric romance, the story plays out on one family's farm as Shane finds himself caught between innocent settlers and vicious cattle barons. Van Heflin, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance, and Elisha Cook, Jr., also star in this genre favorite from director George Stevens.
3. "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (1957) - John Sturges directs this version of the Wyatt Earp legend, with Burt Lancaster as the iconic lawman and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday. "Star Trek" star DeForest Kelley also appears as one of the Earp brothers. Hollywood has never tired of the story of the O.K. Corral, so you'll find several other movies to compare with this particular take on the tale.
4. "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) - The legendary Western director John Ford takes the helm for this elegiac film that stars two great Hollywood icons, James Stewart and John Wayne. Look for genre stalwarts like Lee Marvin, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Woody Strode, Denver Pyle, and Strother Martin in the supporting cast.
5. "Hombre" (1967) - Paul Newman stars in this story about a white man who is raised by Native Americans and then ostracized from the white community because of his background. He ironically becomes the only hope of survival for a group of stagecoach passengers when they are attacked by bandits. Classic film icon Fredric March also stars. Want to see Newman's most famous Western role? "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) is also on streaming.
6. "Two Mules for Sister Sara" (1970) - Clint Eastwood teams up with Shirley MacLaine in this story set in Mexico. Director Don Siegel also worked with Eastwood on memorable films like "Dirty Harry" (1971) and "Escape from Alcatraz" (1979), but his other Western work includes John Wayne's final film, "The Shootist" (1976).
7. "Once Upon a Time in the West" (1968) - If you have three hours to kill, you might try Sergio Leone's massive Western epic, which stars Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson. Look for Keenan Wynn, Woody Strode, and Jack Elam in the supporting cast of this tremendously popular film.
8. "Santa Fe Trail" (1940) - Michael Curtiz, the director best remembered for "Casablanca" (1942), ventured into Western territory several times, including this effort starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. While Alan Hale, Raymond Massey, and Van Heflin also make appearances, you might be surprised to find future US President Ronald Reagan playing the ill-fated General George Custer.
9. "McLintock!" (1963) - John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara star in this Western fan favorite, which takes many of its cues from Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." Director Andrew V. McLaglen was the son of veteran character actor and John Ford regular Victor McLaglen. Look for John Wayne's son, Patrick, as the handsome son of McLintock's housekeeper, played by Yvonne de Carlo.
10. "Belle of the Yukon" (1944) - While it's not Randolph Scott's best Western film, you might find this light Western comedy appealing thanks to the appearance of the infamous Gypsy Rose Lee, here wearing more, at least, than she did in her burlesque shows. Dinah Shore also stars, and William A. Seiter directs.
Other classic Westerns currently on streaming include "Hondo" (1953), "El Dorado" (1966), "Terror in a Texas Town" (1958), and "The Scalphunters" (1968). You'll also find a number of Roy Rogers pictures and many modern examples of the genre.
Jennifer Garlen writes as the Huntsville and National Classic Movies Examiner. Her book, "Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching," is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.