Over the first half of the twentieth century, the cowboy movie evolved from a twelve-minute silent film to epics of scope and length, so here are the 10 best classic black and white cowboy movies that best represent the genre.
- "Virgina City" is a 1940 cowboy movie featuring Hollywood legends Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart and directed by Michael Curtiz, who later worked with Bogart again on "Casablanca".
"Stagecoach" was the breakthrough role for the iconic John Wayne, and what list of classic cowboy movies would be complete without a John Wayne movie? Stagecoach was directed by John Ford, and was both his first sound western and the first of many cowboy movies he did with John Wayne.
- "High Noon" (1952) starred Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges, and was directed by Fred Zinnemann, who also created "From Here To Eternity" and "A Man For All Seasons". This classic cowboy movie was permanently preserved by The Library of Congress in 1989.
"The Big Sky" is a 1952 cowboy movie classic starring film legend Kirk Douglas and directed by Howard Hawks, who also created "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" and the color cowboy movie "Rio Bravo", which starred John Wayne.
"The Gunfighter" (1950) featured terrific performances by Gregory Peck and Karl Malden. This classic cowboy movie was nominated for Best Written American Western WGA Award the year it was released.
- "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962) is the second collaboration on this list between director John Ford and actor John Wayne. This classic cowboy movie also features an unforgettable performance by Jimmy Stewart.
- "The Ox-Bow Incident" is a classic 1943 cowboy movie featuring great performances by Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn and Harry Morgan. This film was permanently preserved by The Library of Congress in 1998.
- "Dead Man" is the most recent black and white cowboy movie on this list. Directed in 1995 by Jim Jarmusch, this blend of classic cowboy movie and film noir starred Johnny Depp and John Hurt, and was the final film role for Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum.
- "The Great Train Robbery", released in 1903, was the first western ever created. At just twelve minutes long, it is also the shortest of the classic cowboy movies on this list.
- "Red River", a classic cowboy movie from 1948, is the only black and white western directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne. This film also features great performances by Montgomery Clift and Harry Carey.