Underrated Western Movies of the ’80s, Ranked


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Westerns have at all times been one of the most beloved genres of film and tv. After going by way of a golden age between the ’40s and the ’60s, the style suffered a tough interval within the ’70s, largely brought on by American’s altering attitude towards itself and the novel shift in storylines caused by a flurry of Italian spaghetti Westerns and a wave of revisionist Westerns that dominated a lot of the ’70s.

By the 1980s, Westerns had been dropping some of their cultural significance, and this triggered good ones to be thought-about one thing of a novelty. While there have been nonetheless many great ones made on this time, the revivalist tags they have been slapped with brought on a distinction in requirements for what was now considered a great Western.

As a outcome, many different great Western movies have been left overlooked or serially underrated despite how good they were. With this in thoughts, this is a glance back on the most underrated Westerns of the ’80s, ranked.


10 Silverado

Cast of Silverado Columbia Pictures

While this movie was noted as being a great Western and definitely won its share of plaudits, the truth that Silverado solely acquired a 78 p.c aggregated ranking on Rotten Tomatoes leaves it somewhat undervalued today. Featuring a cast that included the likes of Kevin Kline, John Cleese, Danny Glover, and the perpetual cowboy Kevin Costner, the film most likely deserves a percentile score within the high 80s to mid-90s.

Revolving around a gaggle of misfit cowboys who stumble across a town in need of assist, the film caught to a classical storyline however handled it splendidly. The rag tag group of males who band together each had unique personalities that made for one gratifying film from start to finish.

9 Three Amigos!

Three Amigos Orion Pictures

Since the ’80s were defined by nice Westerns being categorized as revivalist films, the genre had little tolerance for anything that departed from its classical tropes. So when the comedy Western Three Amigos! was released, the movie was panned badly critics.

Related: Funniest Western Comedies, Ranked

Meant as a spoof, it had quite a lot of Western components but additionally poked enjoyable at the style. The factor is, it did so in a hilarious and a lighthearted method that by no means sought to take itself too seriously, so it was in all probability slightly unfair that critics did.

Roger Ebert, identified for his scathing reviews of foolish comedies, was indicative of many critics’ responses to the film, although in hindsight, all of them appear very self-serious and curmudgeonly; Three Amigos! is just a foolish, charismatic, funny Western. Here’s what Ebert needed to say about it:

“The film’s screenplay is by Martin, Lorne Michaels of “Saturday Night Live” and Randy Newman, who additionally contributes the songs (which are certainly funny). It doesn’t appear to have occurred to them that they’re satirizing a style that hardly exists in the memory of most moviegoers, a style that seems so ridiculous when played straight that to play it for laughs appears redundant.

8 Tom Horn

McQueen in Tom Horn Warner Bros.

Another serially underrated film on Rotten Tomatoes, Tom Horn kicked off the ’80s as a great little Western. For added poignancy, the film was the second-to-last one which the legendary Steve McQueen ever made earlier than his passing in 1980. Playing another legend, the well-known American scout, cowboy, and soldier, Tom Horn, McQueen introduced his classic charm and swagger to the film that had beforehand earned him the popularity as “The King of Cool” in Hollywood.

While the movie did suffer somewhat from underdeveloped characters, it was also plagued by competition since United Artists were additionally developing a movie about Horn for Robert Redford on the time, and McQueen’s own fame and calls for seemingly additionally marred the manufacturing.

7 The Long Riders

The Long Riders United Artists

Another entrant from 1980, The Long Riders was a well-known movie that forged real-life siblings, and not only one pair however a whopping 4; David, Keith, and Robert Carradine starred, as well as James and Stacy Keach, the Quaid brothers, Randy and Dennis, and Christopher and Nicholas Guest. This unique casting aside, the group all labored nicely collectively; the movie was nice, and greater than doubled its budget at the box workplace.

While it was additionally extremely rated, this billing might have been even greater since many believed it to be one of the best, if not the best, Westerns of the complete decade. Featuring a ton of action and an excellent story, the film was a solid entry from iconic director Walter Hill.

6 The Quick and the Dead

Sam Elliott in The Quick and the Dead Warner Bros.

The 1995 film The Quick and the Dead from Sam Raimi featured a stellar solid that included Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio. It received plenty of recognition and acclaim, and is the movie everybody thinks of when you hear that title.

However, again in 1987, the made-for-TV film The Quick and the Deadsuffered from a much less illustrious solid and much tinier finances. It was relegated to the realms of a distant memory and has remained there ever since. Yet, the movie was based on a guide by the legendary Western writer Louis L’Amour and deserves a reappraisal.

Featuring the venerable Western actor Sam Elliot, the film had a far deeper story and was a fantastic film that perhaps solely suffered from having a smaller budget than the 1995 film of the same title.

5 Sunset

Willis in Sunset Tri-Star Pictures

By the time he made Sunset, Bruce Willis was already a longtime action star. The film offered a artistic tackle Westerns as he performed Tom Mix, who teams up with the actual Wyatt Earp within the movie (played by James Garner for the second time) to resolve a homicide thriller.

Related: Best Westerns of the 1980s, Ranked

Featuring some great moments, the film bombed commercially but did earn some optimistic evaluations. Despite its apparent failure, it managed to obtain an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, harking at the truth that the film had a lot more to supply than it was given credit score for. It’s a singular mash-up of types that looks great and is lots of enjoyable.

4 Pale Rider

Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider Warner Bros.

Westerns and Clint Eastwood are sometimes a match made in film heaven. By 1985, having had a string of legendary motion pictures behind him similar to Dirty Harry, Eastwood was already a dwelling display legend. When he made Pale Rider, compared to a lot of his different more legendary films, this one appeared to fade into reminiscence slightly.

As a darkish and suggestive Western that gave Eastwood’s character an virtually supernatural edge since he represented death in the movie, the movie was nothing if not unique and artistic. This side alone made it a noteworthy movie, however it was additionally well-made, properly acted, and a stable Western all spherical. The film was both a business and critical success, but when one thinks of the most effective Clint Eastwood Westerns, the movie appears perpetually doomed to all the time languish in the shadows of his different hit films like Unforgiven and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

3 The Grey Fox

Farnsworth in The Grey Fox United Artists Classics

The Canadian Western movie The Grey Fox was licensed “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and boasts a 100% ranking. However, as good and acclaimed because the film was, it remains comparatively unknown to most mainstream audiences outside of Canada.

Despite this, it is extensively considered a masterpiece and has lately been restored and re-released in 4K. It starred the equally underrated Richard Farnsworth, who was an American actor and stuntman who was twice nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor (1978) and Best Actor (2000) categories, respectively.

2 The Shadow Riders

Selleck in The Shadow Riders CBS Entertainment

Another made-for-TV Western that starred Sam Elliot, with a fantastic turn by Tom Selleck too, The Shadow Riders was additionally primarily based on a Louis L’Amour novel. It revolves around two brothers who fought on different ends of the Civil War. After they reunite, they discover that their siblings have been kidnapped and should put aside their variations and work collectively to save them.

Related: Best TV Westerns of All Time, Ranked

The movie’s intriguing plot offered it with some brilliantly understated political food-for-thought and probably deserved much more recognition than it received. It was additionally the second time in three years that Elliot and Selleck had teamed up for a Western, following The Sacketts in 1979.

1 Barbarosa

Busey and Nelson in Barbarosa Universal Pictures

1982 proved to be an distinctive year for good Westerns, as Willie Nelson’s Barbarosa also proved. The film did obtain some much-deserved important acclaim however was largely panned by audiences. It by no means obtained any prestigious award nominations, yet also boasts a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Barbarosa revolves around two fugitives who encounter one another whereas on the run. The older of the two, performed by Nelson teaches the younger (played by Gary Busey) important survival skills and some other lower than moral abilities too. A gem of a movie, it was made much more impressive by the reality that Nelson is firstly a musician, but has proved to be multi-talented as an actor too.


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