Can You Name the Lead Actor in These Classic Westerns?

By: Gavin Thagard
Image: United Artists via youtube

About This Quiz

Saloons filled with criminals, small towns engulfed in conflict, gunfights at noon: The western genre of film is filled with tropes that help create a unity for the genre while also allowing the films to incorporate their own unique elements. After all, not every western is alike, but you certainly know a western when you see one. How well do you know the western genre? Here's a quiz where you can find out!

The western genre has been around since the birth of film. The earliest westerns were heroic tales depicting strong-willed men saving townspeople and damsels in distress. However, it wasn't long until darker themes and tones were introduced, showing anti-heroes while blurring the line between good and bad. The different styles helped expand ideas on exactly what a western could be. One thing was certain, however, and that's the fact that a western needed a star. 

Do you know the performers who starred in some of the greatest westerns of all time? Can you recall their chiseled jaws, tough exteriors and cruel glares? Can you match those performers to the westerns they starred in? 

If you're an expert on the western genre, here's just the quiz for you. Get started and see if you can blow this quiz out of the water!

Released in 1966, who stars in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"?

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is an example of a Spaghetti Western which became popular in the 1960s. These westerns received their name because they were created by Italians.

In a movie that follows a former marshal, which of these actors stars in "High Noon"?

"High Noon" was highly acclaimed after its release in 1952. The film won four Academy Awards, which included a Best Actor in a Leading Role for Gary Cooper.

Who plays the Sundance Kid in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"?

Released in 1969, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" also featured star performers such as Paul Newman and Katharine Ross. The film was directed by George Roy Hill.

A dark tale about an aging outlaw, who stars in "Unforgiven"?

After rising to stardom in the late '50s and '60s as an actor, Clint Eastwood began to make his own films, many of which he directed himself. He even opened his own production company, originally called The Malpaso Company, in 1967.

In a film with a slew of top actors, who plays Wyatt Earp in "Tombstone"?

"Tombstone" is a film based on real events surrounding Wyatt Earp and his time in Tombstone, Arizona. The film is particularly famous for its portrayal of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral where Earp, his two brothers, and Doc Holliday killed several members of the outlaw group known as the Cowboys.

One of the most recognized westerns of all time, which actor stars in "The Searchers"?

"The Searchers" is consistently put at the top of lists ranking the best westerns of all-time. The film was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1989.

A remake of the Japanese film "Seven Samurai," who's one of the stars of "The Magnificent Seven"?

Yul Brynner was a Russian-born actor who came to the United States with his family in 1940. The actor is most famous for playing in the Broadway and film version of "The King and I," which he won numerous awards for.

In a story that follows an outlaw trying to pull off one last robbery, which actor stars in "The Wild Bunch"?

"The Wild Bunch" follows a group of outlaws when the American West was coming to a close in 1913. The film was controversial at the time of its release because of the violence depicted throughout.

In one of the best westerns of the 21st century, who stars in "Django Unchained"?

"Django Unchained" was directed by Quentin Tarantino, who's also known for films like "Pulp Fiction" and "Kill Bill." Tarantino's films are characterized by his own unique film style which incorporates nonlinear stories and excessive violence.

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" was directed by John Ford. Who did he pick to star in it?

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is based on a short story of the same name by Dorothy Johnson. Johnson was famous for her western fiction which also included stories like "The Hanging Tree" and "A Man Called Horse."

Which legendary actor plays Josey Wales in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"?

"The Outlaw Josey Wales" was one of many films that Clint Eastwood both starred in and directed. The film was an adaptation of the book "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales" by Forrest Carter.

Released in 1939, who stars in "Stagecoach"?

"Stagecoach" helped launch the career of the legendary western actor John Wayne. He starred in the film opposite Claire Trevor.

Following the last days of Jesse James, which actor stars in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"?

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" was a modern example of a Revisionist Western. These films had darker themes and settings than traditional westerns that depicted the typical hero.

"Dances with Wolves" follows a Civil War veteran who joins a Lakota tribe. Who stars in the movie?

"Dances with Wolves" was incredibly successful, receiving seven Academy Awards. Kevin Costner won an Academy Award for Best Director and was nominated for Best Actor.

Which actor was the lead in the 2010 version of "True Grit"?

Directed by the Coen Brothers, "True Grit" was a remake of the 1969 film of the same name. The original film starred John Wayne and Glen Campbell.

Beside Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson, who's the lead actor in "Rio Bravo"?

John Wayne got his start in Hollywood in the late 1920s after dropping out of the University of Southern California. His first lead role was in "The Big Trail" in 1930.

In a western with a satirical twist, who's the lead actor in "Blazing Saddles"?

"Blazing Saddles" was directed by Mel Brooks who was known for his comedic parodies. A few of Brooks' most well-known films are "Young Frankenstein," "The Twelve Chairs," and "Spaceballs."

Starring alongside Kevin Costner, who plays in "Open Range"?

"Open Range" featured Michael Jeter in a supporting role. Jeter died before the film was released after suffering from a seizure, and the film was dedicated to his memory.

Which actor stars as the Man With No Name in "A Fistful​ of Dollars"?

"A Fistful of Dollars" was the first of a trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood. It was also Eastwood's first leading role.

An epic western film with a huge cast, who stars in "How the West Was Won"?

Directed by John Ford, "How the West Was Won" is an epic-western film made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. James Stewart plays beside a star cast including Carroll Baker, Henry Fonda, and John Wayne.

Receiving an Academy Award for his performance, who stars in "The Revenant"?

Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for his performance in "The Revenant." His performance marked his sixth nomination for Best Actor.

Based around the town of Silverado, who plays Paden in "Silverado"?

"Silverado" received Academy Award nominations for Best Sound and Best Original Score. The music for the movie was composed by Bruce Broughton.

Who's the lead actor in the 1957 film "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral​"?

"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" was directed by John Sturges. The Directors Guild of America nominated Sturges for Best Director, but he lost to David Lean who directed "The Bridge on the River Kwai."

Directed by Anthony Mann and released in 1950, who stars in "Winchester '73"?

James Stewart had one of the most successful acting careers of his generation. In 1940, he received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in "The Philadelphia Story" and was nominated four other times.

In a film where the star was also the director, who's the lead in "Pale Rider"?

"Pale Rider" was one of the highest grossing westerns from the '80s. The name of the film is a reference to Death, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Playing alongside Viggo Mortensen, who's the lead in "Appaloosa"?

Ed Harris both directed and starred in "Appaloosa." Before a wide release, the film originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The first film in a trilogy, who stars in "Fort Apache"?

"Fort Apache" was recognized for its sensitive portrayal of Native Americans. The film was partly based on the short story "Massacre" by James Warner Bellah.

Based on a novel by the same name, who's the lead in "Little Big Man"?

Directed by Arthur Penn, "Little Big Man" was a protest to the Vietnam War. It accomplished this by portraying the U.S. Calvary as the villains and Native Americans as the ones damaged by U.S. actions.

A film that follows Wyatt Earp and his adventures in Tombstone, which actor stars in "My Darling Clementine"?

One of the most significant filmmakers of his time, John Ford directed "My Darling Clementine." Ford was known for his westerns, but he also had major success with film adaptations and documentaries.

Considered an anti-western film, who stars in "Hang 'Em High"?

Clint Eastwood first established The Malpaso Company in 1967. "Hang Em High" was the first film produced by the company.

Directed by Henry King, who stars as Jimmy Ringo in "The Gunfighter"?

Gregory Peck's most well-known role was Atticus Finch in the 1962 film "To Kill a Mockingbird." Peck received an Oscar for his performance in that role.

In a film that follows a rancher trying to make money during a drought, who stars as Dan Evans in the 1957 version of "3:10 to Yuma"?

"3:10 to Yuma" was remade in 2007. The film starred foreign actors Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.

"Broken Arrow" was nominated for three Academy Awards. Who starred in the movie?

In the film, James Stewart played a historical figure, Tom Jeffords. An Indian agent, Jeffords helped end the Indian wars with the Apache when he became friends with Cochise, an Apache leader.

Released in 1953, which actor is the lead in "Hondo"?

After the film came out, "Hondo" was turned into a novel of the same name written by Louis L'Amour. The screenplay for the film was originally based on another L'Amour short story called "The Gift of Cochise."

Who plays the villain in "Once Upon a Time in the West"?

"Once Upon a Time in the West" was directed by Sergio Leone. Leone is famous for creating the Spaghetti Western which became popular in the 1960s.

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