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5 Old Cowboy Films Worth Watching

Vanessa de Largie | Topic Media | March 27, 2012

As the weather turns colder, there’s nothing nicer than curling up on the couch with a hot drink and indulging in some old movies.

In this day and age when we think of the ‘cowboy film’, we tend to think of Brokeback Mountain or The Quick and The Dead.

But if we venture back to the 40s and 50s, there were some unforgettable cowboy films made, that etched their place in cinematic history.

On your next lazy weekend, when it’s cold outside, why not hire some old cowboy films, grab some chocolate and relax.

Below are 5 flicks that I love. Please comment, if you have anymore to add. The list of enjoyable cowboy movies, is no doubt endless.


I recently watched this film for the first time. (I thought Mum had exposed me to all old movies, tisk-tisk. Obviously not.)

It’s one of those movies that you would find on TV around noon on a Sunday. It’s a cozy film, a film that you gladly travel along with.

The film follows three outlaws, Lorn (Macdonald Carey), Jim (William Holden) & Wahoo (William Bendix).

The three friends rescue orphaned Rannie (Mona Freeman) from racketeers, then separate. Lorn continues with his robberies, while Jim & Wahoo join the Texas Rangers. Rannie is in love with Lorn but he is not the man she wants him to be.

In the end, respect and friendship is surpassed by justice.

William Holden followed this film up with the unforgettable Sunset Boulevard. Yet Macdonald Carey (Who was known as the star of B-grade movies and more famously the voice of Days of Our Lives) is the star of this film, the camera adores him.

Calamity Jane (1953)

Not everyone is a fan of musicals but if you are, Calamity Jane is a must-see. I adore this film so much, I still have the VHS, I recorded it on as a teenager.

The costumes, the music, the humour, the script – as far as I’m concerned it all works.

In a nutshell, Calamity is an outspoken, gun carrying, tomboyish cowgirl who matches the skills of any cowboy. She can drink, she can ride and she can shoot.

All the men in town are besotted by the lovely Adelaid Adams, the singing and dancing star from Chicago.

Calamity goes to Chicago in hunt of Adelaid and the film begins. With a star studded cast, which includes the incredibly talented Doris Day and Howard Keel.

If you are a musical fan, you will be singing these songs for days.
Go hire Calam! Whip crack-away, whip crack-away, whip crack-away.

The Paleface (1948)

I have only seen this film a few times in my life but two of it’s scenes will stay with me forever.

Starring veteran entertainer Bob Hope and Jane Russell (The Outlaw, Gentleman Prefer Blondes)

This film will give you a sore belly from laughing. I won’t add any spoilers but if you are up for a laugh, this may be the cowboy film for you.

Duel In The Sun (1946)

Written and produced by David O. Selznick. This film is a popular choice for all those Gregory Peck-fans out there. Also starring Jennifer Jones (Towering Inferno), Lionel Barrymore and Joseph Cotton. It’s enjoyable watching Peck play a non-gentleman!

Shane (1953)

This film is in every film buff’s top ten cowboy films, is it not?

The perfect good vs evil plot. Starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and Van Heflin. This movie has not been forgotten as time has moved on. They play it yearly on television. A popular pick for fans of the genre.

I hope you have enjoyed reminiscing about old cowboy films with me. I have certainly enjoyed writing this article and certainly look forward to any tips about old cowboy films I may have forgotten or perhaps missed out on all together.