18 Nov The Top 10 Good Guys in Western Movie History
There are no clear rules in defining the good guys in Westerns. Alcoholics, gamblers, womanizers, bounty hunters…they can all get in the situation where their true nature is reviled as they show the greatness hidden deeply inside of them. Check out this list of the toughest good guys in western movie history. Also if you missed it check out our previous article The Top 10 Bad Guys in Western Movie History.
1.Shane (Alan Ladd), Shane (1953)
All that this retired gunfighter wanted to do is to settle down with his family and try to run a peaceful life. However, he found himself in the middle of a conflict between a cattle owner Ryker and a group of settlers. Not many time has passed before Shane had his buckskin jacket on and his nickel plated Colt ready to straight things out.
- Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne), Rio Bravo (1959)
I think Wayne had never played a single bad guy role in his career. In the ocean of his good guy characters, I have to single out John T. Chance, small town sheriff trying to keep the local bad guy imprisoned while waiting for the U.S. Marshall to come and take him away. He could rely only on his Winchester rifle and the pearl-handled Colt revolver.
- Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda), My Darling Clementine (1946)
Henry Fonda delivered one of the best “Earp’s” in western movie history. Wyatt returned to Tombstone and found his brother James shot dead from the back. He teams up with Doc Holiday, a bad-tempered alcoholic, to revenge his brother’s death. Fonda really looks fascinating and distinctive, all dressed up in black and wearing that Stetson hat he never changes.
- Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper), High Noon (1952)
Will Kane is a Sheriff who has decided to turn in his badge and start a new period in his life. He planned to move out of the town, but his past was on its way to hunt him down. And it arrived on the noon train. The criminal Frank Miller, whom Will brought to justice years ago, is back, thirsty for vengeance.
Despite the fact that his pacifist Quaker wife begged him to leave the city, and the fact that he had no support from the new sheriff, he decided to take the whole merciless gang down.
- Blondie (Clint Eastwood), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
The same applies to Eastwood, as in the case with John Wayne No bad guy roles. I am going for his part in Leone’s classic. At first, he seems like a type of a guy minding his own business with no interest in helping you, no matter how bad the situation is. But once he makes his mind, he goes all the way to the end. You can see justice smoking out of his Colt 1851 Navy revolver.
If you’re as big a Clint fan as us, check out our Blondie the good the bad and the ugly costume here.
- Bannock Marshal Jared Maddox (Burt Lancaster), Lawman (1971)
Burt Lancaster’s Marshal Jared Maddox could easily make top 3 list of toughest guys in Western movies history. In the movie, Marshall is determined to bring to justice bunch of drunken cattlemen responsible for the old man’s death. With a strong code of honor and a clear sense for right and wrong, he eventually succeeded in this seemingly impossible task. Justice served to the extreme!
- Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer), Tombstone (1993)
Many great actors played Doc Holiday. There’ve been more than 2,600 interpretation of Doc Holliday on film, but Val Kilmer is especially brilliant in the role. Doc Holiday is a failed dentist, a gambler and an alcoholic. On top of that, his terminal tuberculosis makes him feel free of all responsibilities toward other people and himself. However, he considers Earp as his only friend to whom he is unconditionally loyal.
- Harmonica (Charles Bronson), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
A good guy with a face of a lowlife scumbag. Charles Bronson was once described as “Clark Gable who had been left out in the sun too long”. On the other side, Henry Fonda, known for his good guy roles, plays a stone cold killer who butchered the entire frontier family. Mind- blowing. Harmonica, a man of few words, is a lonesome gunslinger seeking revenge. Although portrayed as an Anti- hero, he is essentially an honorable man, trying not to hurt anyone else on his dark path.
- Lieutenant Dunbar (Kevin Costner), Dances with Wolves (1990)
This movie is one of the rare westerns that presents Native Americans as they truly are, rather than mindless savages. Lieutenant Dunbar got wounded in the Civil War and refused to have his leg amputated. Instead, he took a horse, miraculously passed through the Confederate lines and set out to the abounded outpost on the frontier. After encountering Lakota tribe, he started questioning everything he knew about natives.
- Bill Hop-Along Cassidy (William Boyd), Hop-Along Cassidy (1935)
For last, I saved a spot for William Boyd, the brightest star of the B-western movies from the 30’s. Unlike rugged, tough, “whiskey, women and tobacco lovin’ ” characters, Boyd “Hoppa” was a cowboy hero who did not swear, smoke, or drink alcohol. His character has been instantly accepted and beloved by the broad audience. Boyd was one of rare “good guy” stars to always dress in black.