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The Best 1970s Western Movies: Groovy on the Range

The 1970s may have been groovy and funky and full of upheaval, but the Disco Decade also welcomed the Wild West with open arms in Hollywood. From John Wayne to Clint Eastwood, the 70s offered a string of shoot-’em-up desert adventures that’s tough to top. Just take a look at these classic 1970s western movies…if you can handle the action!

Little Big Man (1970)

A white man (Dustin Hoffman) tells of his life from 1841 to 1890 as one of many people captured by Native Americans and taken in by various Indian tribes. He eventually becomes part of Chief Ten Bears’ tribe after saving him when he was injured on an elk hunt. He is given the name “Little Big Man” because of his great courage and strength, in spite of being small for his age (he was only 12 at that time).

McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971)

In the American West of 1889, McCabe (Warren Beatty), a rootless and unsuccessful gambler, arrives in Presbyterian Church with his moll Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie) to set up a house of ill repute. Together they build businesses from their wagon until winter forces them indoors for warmth and companionship. From there it’s only downhill.

Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)

A mild-mannered accountant, Wilby Daniels (James Garner) is mistaken for a notorious gunfighter by his new neighbors in the town of Contention. He tries to set them straight but finds himself irresistibly drawn into their corrupt world and embroiled with two feuding families: one headed by Laredo Stevens (Ralph Meeker), who wants to run the town, and the other by Ben Kilpatrick (Bruce Dern), who has a reputation of being an outlaw.

The Cowboys (1972)

John Wayne starred in this classic as an aging cattle drover who has to protect a wagon train and its cargo from marauding Indians. The film also stars Bruce Dern, Roscoe Lee Browne, Slim Pickens and Andy Devine.

Jeremiah Johnson(1972)

Robert Redford portrays a tough and compassionate mountain man in this classic American western.

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)

The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean is a 1972 American western film directed by John Huston, starring Paul Newman as the title character who sets up his own “legal” system on the border between Texas and New Mexico around 1895.

High Plains Drifter (1973)

A stranger (Clint Eastwood) arrives in a small town and creates havoc, but is he really the ghost of an avenging angel or just a psychopathic killer? This classic western also stars Verna Bloom and Lauren Bacall.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks directed and starred in this comedic western that pokes fun at the genre. Cleavon Little is a black sheriff who tries to bring law and order to an old west town terrorized by racists, only to have his efforts undone by Gene Wilder’s Waco Kid and Madeline Kahn as Lili von Shtupp.

Breakheart Pass (1975)

One of the only films in the history of cinema to be filmed aboard a moving train, Breakheart Pass tells the true story of Jesse James’ final robbery. It’s also an action-packed movie with humor and romance–quite unlike any other western you’ll ever see!

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

The Outlaw Josey Wales is a 1976 American western film starring Clint Eastwood as the titular character, written by Philip Kaufman, John Milius and Michael Cimino based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Forrest Carter. It tells The story of an ex-Confederate soldier who has to adjust to the post-American Civil War era.

The White Buffalo (1977)

The White Buffalo is a 1977 western film starring Charles Bronson as an old gunslinger who joins up with two young men to hunt down the elusive white buffalo.

Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978)

Hot Lead and Cold Feet is a 1978 American western film directed by James Fargo. It stars Anthony Quinn, John Carradine, Ernest Borgnine and Joanna Cassidy. The setting is a small town in Mexico invaded by outlaws.

(Like 1970s Western Movies? Then you might like our article about 1980s Cowboy Movies, click here.)

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