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The best of the West.
From the 1800s through 1912, the American West served as the site of America’s most vicious and intense expansion. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the region, seeking fortune and land of their own. This brutal time period has proven to be fertile ground for pop culture, birthing everything from horror to comedies to Oscar-winning dramas. Looking to sample the charms of the West? Here are the best Westerns on Amazon Prime.
The best Westerns on Amazon Prime: Movies
1) For a Few Dollars More (1967)
Sergio Leone is arguably one of the greatest Western directors of all time. Team him up with Clint Eastwood and the results are unstoppable. The legendary Man with No Name strikes an uneasy truce with the outlaw Lee Van Cleef while hunting a vicious killer. Renowned for its violent shootouts and breathtaking cinematography, For a Few Dollars More continues to inspire new generations of Western fans.
2) The Proposition (2006)
Every other film or show on this list takes place in America, but The Proposition tells a tale of violence on the Australian Outback. In 1880, a lawman captures an outlaw named Charlie Burns and makes a deadly proposition: Burns has nine days to find and kill his older brother or the officer will hang his younger brother. Nick Cave wrote this pitch-black tale of murder, and it’s as dark as anything on his albums. If you’re going to watch any Western movies on Amazon Prime on a date, make sure you don’t pick this one.
3) Woman Walks Ahead (2018)
Woman Walks Ahead is loosely based on the true story of painter Catherine Weldon’s journey across North Dakota to paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull. At times, the movie suffers from romanticizing the story at the expense of historical accuracy. But stars Jessica Chastain, Michael Greyeyes, and Sam Rockwell elevate the whole affair with incredible performances.
4) High Noon (1952)
Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper star in this classic Western that won Cooper the Academy Award for best actor. Retiring marshal Will Kane is getting ready to leave the town of Hadleyville, New Mexico with his new wife. That is until a local outlaw, fresh out of jail, starts rounding up a posse to hunt down Kane. With the town too cowardly to help, Kane must prepare himself to take on an army at high noon.
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5) Heartbreak Pass (1975)
Charles Bronson headlines this suspenseful Western murder mystery set aboard a train traveling through the snowy mountains. No one is who they seem, and a series of disappearances and strange happenings plague the train carrying medical supplies for the military. The isolated Western setting, coupled with suspenseful direction, make this one of the most nail-biting Westerns on Amazon Prime.
6) Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Despite the prevalence of lonely dark nights isolated from civilization in Westerns, the genre is surprisingly lean on horror. Bone Tomahawk is a rare exception, a methodically paced shocker with occasional bursts of gruesome violence. Following a series of brutal kidnappings, a group of gunslingers heads into the mountains to rescue their family and townsfolk. Instead, they find an ancient tribe of cannibals, hungry for more flesh and furious at their invasion. Don’t eat before watching this one.
7) Stagecoach (1986)
Country supergroup the Highwaymen star in this made-for-TV remake of the 1939 classic. Largely existing as an excuse for Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings to pal around, the film follows a relatively standard story about a group of stagecoach passengers trying to make it across hostile territory unharmed. Seeing these country icons having such a good time is infectious, even if the plot is rote.
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The best Westerns on Amazon Prime: TV shows
1) Deadwood (2004)
HBO’s beloved Western only ran for three seasons, but it inspired a fiercely loyal fanbase that exists to this day. In the years following the Civil War, the mining town of Deadwood became a beacon for fortune seekers and outlaws alike. Blending the town’s historical record with fictional flourishes, Deadwood spins dark yarns about America’s growing pains. Never shying away from the death, disease, and bigotry of the era, Deadwood can be occasionally brutal. But with so much whitewashing in Westerns, the darkness is welcome.
2) Justified (2010)
No one does a Western with a modern setting better than Justified, FX’s six-season saga of U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. After an on-the-job incident gets him reassigned to his hometown in Kentucky, Raylan finds himself buried in generational feuds and heavily armed Nazis. Brimming with humor, action, and surprisingly nuanced writing, Justified is one of the best Western series on Amazon Prime, and a binge watch waiting to happen.
3) Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (1993)
Dr. Quinn was a modest hit during the mid-’90s, spanning six seasons and two TV movies. Oddly, it’s gotten better with age thanks to great acting and ahead-of-its-time storytelling. The series stars Jane Seymour as Dr. Quinn, a Boston native who sets up a practice in Colorado following the death of her father. Dr. Quinn is one of the rare Westerns with a female lead, who raises three adopted children against the harsh background of the American West, all while saving lives. The series was canceled too soon, but at least we still have 149 episodes to remind us what once was.
Still not sure what to watch on Amazon? Here are the best Amazon originals, the best documentaries on Amazon Prime, what’s new on Amazon, the best 4K movies, Amazon original movies, alien movies, and the sexiest movies you can stream right now.
Looking for something more specific? Here are the best comedies on Amazon Prime when you need a laugh, sad movies to make you cry, kids movies for the whole family, the best thrillers to get your heart racing, and the classic movies on Amazon Prime everyone should see. If that’s not enough, here are the best Amazon Prime channels.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.