Sergio Leone’s Western magnum opus Once Upon a Time in the West was released in 1968 and was considered one of the best movies of all time. This classic revenge flick has richly layered characters, an epic story, and Henry Fonda’s big baby blues! If you’re a Western fan, you’re most likely going to be looking for movies like Once Upon a Time in the West. This is a list of some of the best options I can recommend – get a load of these classics!
Best Movies Like Once Upon a Time in the West
We’re looking at classic Westerns here – anything epic, and sprawling, with a fixation on revenge, and the battle against an ever-changing world. Here are some of the best choices for Westerns that are guaranteed to give you that same feeling as Once Upon a Time in the West.
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
I’ve got to say, I dig all the movies on my list, but this one is my standout favorite. A stone-cold revenge flick, following the titular outlaw on a crusade against those who killed his family. While Wales places more focus on the psychology of its hero, West treats the characters more like forces of nature, but both have very similar physiologies. The Outlaw Josey Wales is the perfect accompaniment to Once Upon a Time in the West. Both are epics that sprawl the open, lawless, landscapes of old America, and give us an unflinching look at when the West was truly wild.
Django Unchained (2011)
It might seem strange to see Tarantino on the list, but Django Unchained is one of the best revisionist Westerns in modern memory – or, as QT himself referred to it, a ‘Southern.’ Influenced by ‘60s Italian Western flick Django (1966), Django Unchained fits perfectly into the bracket of ultra-violent spaghetti Western extravaganza. It’s tasteless, over-the-top, and totally bonkers, and that’s exactly how it’s meant to be. If you like Once Upon a Time in the West, we have a feeling you’ll give Django Unchained two guns up!
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Controversial statement alert: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is, hands down, John Wayne’s best movie. There, I said it, I meant it, I’m here to represent it! The John Ford movie tells the story of a politician who becomes famous for shooting outlaw Liberty Valance. The movie has many of the John Ford and John Wayne trademarks. While the themes of revenge and justice are not explored as much as in Once Upon a Time, the scale, scope, and world-building certainly makes this a movie similar to Once Upon a Time in the West in a lot of ways.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Another Sergio Leone movie, TGTBATU is considered by many to be the greatest Western ever made. While I don’t quite agree, it’s certainly a masterpiece and a worthy addition to this list. The three titular men form an uneasy alliance and go in search of hidden gold. With one of the most iconic scenes in movie history and an unforgettable score by Ennio Morricone, this is a Western I can revisit time and again.
The Wild Bunch (1969)
Sam Peckinpah’s ultra-violent, ultra-crazy Western bonanza is widely regarded as a triumph of the genre, and quite right too! The Wild Bunch shares a lot of similarities with Once Upon a Time in the West. The flick takes place on the eve of the First World War, where a gang of aging gunslingers seeks refuge in a small town on the Mexican border. The theme of aging gangsters trying to exist in a burgeoning world mirrors one of the principal themes of Once Upon a Time in the West.
Clint Eastwood reignited the genre that made him in the early-’90s with this gnarly revenge Western. The film is wonderfully shot, brilliantly acted, and perfectly paced, and Eastwood’s grizzled William Munny would not have looked out of place in Leone’s Western masterpiece. Those who love Once Upon a Time in the West will dig Unforgiven, and the themes present. It is, in many ways, a masterpiece of its own, and, directed by & starring Eastwood, it brought the genre full circle.
There is no question that Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the most famous and influential movies ever made. Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti-Western had one of the biggest impacts on the industry, and there are plenty of awesome movies like Once Upon a Time in the West, and this is just a selection of some of the best you should check out.