He was unquestionably one of the biggest stars of the last century. He made more films than any other star. He is a fan favorite and therefore it is impossible for critics to agree on what John Wayne‘s ten best films are.
In no particular order we here at Classic Movie Chat can agree on eight which must be listed in his top ten. In the order he made them: Stagecoach (1939), Red River (1948), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1958), Rio Bravo (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), True Grit (1969) and The Shootist, his last film released in 1976.
All of these films were critical successes at the time of their release. Folks KNEW they were good films destined to stand the test of time, and they have. All of them are, of course, classics. All were commercial successes as well, Using adjusted box office figures 5 were mega hits, two (Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) were big hits, and only one, The Shootist, was a moderate financial hit.
Wayne was box office gold in the mid 1950s. Two of his films of the period (and not westerns or war movies) outgrossed all of these classics. The Sea Chase, which teamed him with superstar Lana Turner, and the all star cast disaster epic, The High and the Mighty, were huge grossers.
So we agree on eight. What are the other two films to round out the top ten? There are so many good films from which to choose. War films such as They Were Expendable, The Sands of Iwo Jima, or lesser known ones such as Flying Leathernecks or The Fighting Seabees.
There are westerns: The Alamo, The Sons of Katie Elder, El Dorado, The Horse Soldiers. The Cowboys. There are the John Ford classics, Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Smaller films where he showed a more touching side, The Angel and the Badman, Three Godfathers. And a dozen others.
So faithful readers we ask your advice. Which titles should make the top ten list, and WHY?