The Best John Wayne Movie That Isn’t a Western

John Wayne has been described as part of the face of much of America. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gary Wills said as much in his widely regarded book, “John Wayne’s America,” released in 1998. Wayne was also the face of the American political right. His politics became the face of much of the country. By the time Wayne died in 1979, the “Duke” as he was known, had appeared in 179 movies and TV shows, which made him among the most prolific stars in film history.

Wayne was known for his westerns, which were the movies that made him famous. Yet, he appeared in dozens of other films, some of which were critically well regarded.

According to the Internet Movie Database’s count, Wayne starred in 89 westerns, going from a fresh-faced young actor in 1926’s “The Great K & A Train Robbery” to a venerable, Oscar-nominated screen legend playing a dying gunslinger 50 years later in “The Shootist.”

To identify the best movie Wayne has ever starred in that is not a western, 24/7 Tempo reviewed his acting roles in movies listed in his IMDb actor filmography page.

Of all the movies Wayne made that are not westerns, many are war movies. The same qualities that made him an ideal gunslinger, cowboy or sheriff in the Old West (toughness, leadership and a willingness to sacrifice) also made Wayne a believable captain, general or soldier. Also like many of his westerns, a number of Wayne’s war films were critical and commercial smash hits and are hailed as classics today.

24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and selected all of the ones Wayne was in that were not westerns. The combined score arises from the movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Genre and casting data come from IMDb.

The best movie Wayne starred in that’s not a western was “The Quiet Man,” released in 1952. Here are some details:

  • Combined score: 2.63 (#593 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres)
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Also starring: Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald and Ward Bond

“The Quiet Man” is a comedy in which Wayne plays retired American boxer Sean Thornton. Hoping to buy his father’s land, Thornton moves back to the Irish village where he was born. There, he falls in love with a fiery woman whose brother is against the union between her and Thornton.

Click here to see all the best and worst John Wayne movies that aren’t westerns.


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