Ever since “The Great Train Robbery” first appeared in 1903, movies have never been the same. They have evolved from being simple movie shorts to blockbuster productions. America’s film heritage is a key part of the country’s history and continues to be a key part of America’s culture.
In honor of America’s film heritage, Congress established the National Film Registry in 1989. The purpose of this registry is to select movies that are culturally, artistically or historically significant to our nation’s cinema heritage.
Every year, many films are nominated for the National Film Registry but only 20 movies are selected for this distinctive honor. Currently there are 600 movies, documentaries, shorts and other notable film clips in the registry.
Of course, this registry would not be complete if it didn’t contain western movies – the film genre that has been part of American cinema from the very beginning.
To date, there are 33 western movies in the National Film Registry, starting with the first western movie “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903 to the Academy Award winning western “Unforgiven” in 1992.
The registry also contains famous western movies like “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “High Noon” and “The Searchers.” And the registry contains a good selection of western films by acting and directing greats John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, John Ford and Sergio Leone.
We believe that there are many more westerns that will be added to the National Film Registry in the future since there are many classic western movies worthy of this recognition.
Check out the list below to see a complete list of western movies currently in the National Film Registry. And if you would like to nominate a western that you don’t see on this list, please click here to go to the National Film Registry nomination site. New selections are announced every December.
Western Movies in the National Film Registry
3:10 to Yuma (1957)
Bargain, The (1914)
Big Trail, The (1930)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Dances with Wolves (1990)
Destry Rides Again (1939)
Great Train Robbery, The (1903)
Hell’s Hinges (1916)
High Noon (1952)
How the West Was Won (1962)
Iron Horse, The (1924)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Melody Ranch (1940)
My Darling Clementine (1946)
The Naked Spur (1953)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Outlaw Josey Wales, The (1976)
Ox Bow Incident, The (1943)
Red River (1948)
Ride the High Country (1962)
Searchers, The (1956)
Tall T, The (1957)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
Wild and Woolly (1917)
Wild Bunch, The (1969)