Top 20 Western Movie Themes


Western movie themes are the soul of the western movies.

And this soul has been so beautifully infused in western cinema by western film music composers like Ennio Morricone, Dimitri Tiomkin, Victor Young, Elmer Bernstein and Dominic Frontiere, that time could never fade it. These western movie themes are as compelling and touching as they were years back. The ‘touch’ is always there. presents the list of best western movie themes of all time.

Let’s start from Top to Bottom!

1. A Man With Harmonica ( Once Upon A Time In West -1968) by Ennio Morricone

Nothing gives my spine a chill as this sound of harmonica with eco effects composed by the master himself – Ennio Morricone. Once Upon A Time in West (1968) is not only remembered for it classic Sergio Leone touch but also for this western movie theme which intensifies the extreme close-ups used by Sergio Leone. I rate this single track from Once Upon A Time In West as the best western film score.

2. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) by Ennio Morricone

This western movie soundtrack is recognizable from a mile, such a unique piece of western film music from Ennio Morricone. This iconic theme was designed in places to mimic the sound of crying hyena. The shades of on screen drama are remarkably supported by background theme. Western soundtrack of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly gets as sharp as Blondy, as mean as Angel Eyes and as sarcastic as our favorite Tuco. In one word.. It is magnificent!

3. Farewell To Cheyenne: from Once Upon A Time In The West(1968) by Ennio Morricone

4. For a Few Dollars More (1965) by Ennio Morricone

5. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) by Ennio Morricone

6. Unforgiven (1992) by Lennie Niehaus

7. The Magnificent Seven (1960) by Elmer Bernstein

8. Rio Bravo (1959) by Dimitri Tiomkin

9. Johny Guitar (1954) by Victor Young

10. How The West Was Won (1962) by Alfred Newman

11. My Name Is Nobody (1973) by Ennio Morricone

12. Wand’rin’ Star – Paint Your Wagon (1969) by Frederick Loewe and Nelson Riddle

13. The Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford (2007) by Nick Cave Warren Ellis

14. Alamo (1960) by Dimitri Tiomkin

15. Comancheros (1961) by Elmer Bernstein

16. The Big Country (1958) by Jerome Moross

17. Ride the High Country (1962) by George Bassman

18. Dances with Wolves (1990) by John Barry

19. Wyatt Earp (1994) by James Newton Howard

20. The Hateful Eight (2015) by Ennio Morricone

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  1. Does anyone know the name of the typical song that played when someone is walking through the desert, it’s just a solo guitar played with a finger slide

  2. other singing or not singing themes that are great
    blaze of glory from young guns (1 or 2?)
    do not forsake me from high noon
    el dorado theme
    the quick anf the dead end credits theme
    hang em high theme (end)
    silverado theme

  3. Can anyone explain if there is a difference between an Italian soundtrack and an American soundtrack? Specifically I’m looking at Once upon a time in the west vinyl soundtracks

  4. Does anyone recall a film from the 1950s where the marshall (hero) must go to the final gunfights with a broken hand which he tapes up (maybe broken fingers?) I saw this as a child and can’ recall a nam.t

  5. I(WENDY SELLS) like all of the John Wayne Movies in Western movies with Kirk Douglas and the other movie with John Wayne was the best movie called El Dorado and I hope that there will be more of the movies with John Wayne in the Future from Wendy Sells a fan of John Wayne

  6. I like the Music from “Breakheart Pass” and “Rio Conchos” ( both Jerry Goldsmith) and from ” Duel at Diablo” ( Neal Hefti ) so much.

  7. I wish to make a comment on the Movie “How the West Was Won”/1962…The final scene were the Sheriff goes after Outlaw – Gant…That is one of the greatest train scenes in the History of Westerns. Even a outlaw gets shot and falls into a cactus plant. And, the train derailment. Truly Classic. The outlaw: Gant is shot to death on the flatcar shootout…A real treasure… Thanks! Western Buff Fan – Glenn E. Smith Jr.

  8. I would like Movie goers to re-examine John Ford’s Classic “THE SEARCHERS’ 1956…This is a well made, written, Directed, and Produced Western…Filmed at the Utah Flats leading into the Grand Canyon is Breathtaking…A great star Cast: John Wayne, Jeffery Hunter, Natalie Wood, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, and Harry Carey Jr. The Searchers goes deep into a man’s mind of prejudice and Hatred…Thanks! Glenn Jr. 08/31/2014; Sunday

    • Hi, MWWM Dudes, THE SEARCHERS IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE GREATEST WESTERN OF ALL TIME, PERIOD. That majestic, unforgettable final shot still amazes me, after countless viewings …
      Don’t take my word, check any serious Encyclopaedia by Ephraim Katz or by the Brits David Thomson and Leslie Halliwell, the National Film Register, the AFI, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, The New York Times Original Review of 1956, the late Roger Ebert Reviews, Scorsese’s perennial infatuation with it, etc, etc, etc.
      Those fans who stubbornly put Sergio Leone Westerns at the Top, made a fatal mistake: those are Spaghetti Westerns. Nothing to do, nothing to compare with: the Masterpieces of THE MASTER JOHN FORD, or Howard Hawks, Delmer Daves, Budd Boetticher, John Sturges, Raoul Walsh, also two great directors, George Stevens and William Wyler each made only one Western to experience the genre, and for me, the second best ever, Fred Zinnemann’s ‘High Noon’, THOSE ARE THE REAL TOP LIST in Classic Western Tradition.
      Leone’s films, the great Clint are wonderful to watch, entertaining, visceral, but it’s different stuff.
      Need only ONE fact to prove it: THE ENTIRE CAST GREAT QUALITY, from the smaller role to the star, you’ll never find that in Spaghetti Westerns, all small parts, many of the supporting and even key roles are atrociously performed. If any Leone-Morricone fan want to experience and learn from the real Classics,
      I recommend them FIVE unjustly forgotten gems: ‘The Gunfighter’ (1950), ‘Broken Lance’ (1954), ‘Jubal’ (1956), ‘The Bravados’ (1958) and ‘The Hanging Tree’ (1959). ‘Broken Lance’ & ‘Jubal’ are, incredibly, Shakespeare Westerns, yeah! just watch and believe! you’ll see ‘King Lear’ and ‘Othello’ …
      May God bless and keep the Western alive forever.

  9. As a Westerns Film Buff I would like Movie goers to re-examine John Ford’s Classic “THE SEARCHERS’ 1956…This is a well made, written, Directed, and Produced Western…Filmed at the Utah Flats leading into the Grand Canyon is Breathtaking…A great star Cast: John Wayne, Jeffery Hunter, Natalie Wood, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, and Harry Carey Jr. The Searchers goes deep into a man’s mind of prejudice and Hatred…Thanks! Glenn Jr. 08/31/2014; Sunday

  10. its driving me crazy, but i saw move that somehow must have inspired the song “i shot th sherrif.. a man is trying to hold onto his little ranch but the rich guy is trying to buy him ou/run him off. he sends the sherrif at one point who attacks the family and gets shot in self defense. the deputy ends up getting killed late and the man is arrested for his murder but it was the bad guys who did it to frame the man and to silence th deputy. im not sure of the details but i was screaming during the movie it fit so well, i even think there was a john brown character. it was made in the 40s or 50s.

  11. This is by far the best western movie site I have found. I enjoyed movies I would never of known about thanks to eveyone. What is the real name of (gabby) and does any one have a movie listing?

  12. A bit of Western Movies information that I am trying to find. There is a movie that shows cowboys yeehahing!!! to start moving out the cattle. It cuts cuts from cowboy to cowboy (at least 5 or 6 different cowboys yell and each one gives a great western movem out type of yell. The cattle start moving and the movie ends. (that is the way I remember it anyhow) Do you know which movie that is? I felt that it would be a late 30’s to very early 50’s movie. I have never seen the actual movie, but I saw this in a movie as people in the movie were watching the end of this movie in the theater. I actually thought that this was the movie in The Last Picture Show, but I do not think I am getting that right. Any ideas??

  13. The Silverado theme by Bruce Broughton is a very under-rated – and yet extremely recognizable – Western theme that’s worthy of at least top 10, in my opinion. It’s a very fine piece that expertly combines many elements of the classic Western films and television programs in the decades that preceded it.

  14. I agree that the theme music selected for a western is integral to the success of the film. My all-time western theme music is associated with “The Big Country” (1958). Jerome Maross’ music is used to great effect in the film, especially the opening montage. My other selections include “The Sons of Katie Elder” (1965), “How the West Was Won” (1962), and of course, the immortal Elmer Bernstein theme music to “The Magnificent Seven” (1960).

  15. Para mim, o melhor filme de western de todos os tempos, “Era uma vez no Oeste, nem se compara com os novos lançamentos,
    o elenco então nem se fala, Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, e a fantástica Claudia Cardinale. Parabens por postar essa enquete.

  16. I just love bounty killers. man, its awesome site to watch Clint, John Wynne, Lee Van Cliff etc… riding horses in Grand canyon background with bang on target with their guns. I remember in “For a few dollar more ” Lee van cliff order a double Martini. Wow guys lets have party in new Mexico.
    Dapk bliss