With 'Blackthorn' in theaters, an excuse to assess the genre
10. "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956)
It has become near faux pas not to place John Ford's 1956 adaptation of Alan Le May's "The Searchers" at the top of a list such as this. But while cliches happen for a reason, succumbing to that kind of group think allows for blinders. Nevertheless, the film is important in the canon of American art for its depiction of blatant racism, an underlying, unfortunately defining attribute of our country's history. Like many westerns, it is burdened by extraneous comic relief, but it also features some of the most exquisite photography of any film on this list. And John Wayne's performance as a former soldier searching for his new place in the world towers.