Movie Poll: Which John Ford/John Wayne Film Is Your Favorite?

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  • Sandie Duncan

    I think this was the hardest poll I have ever taken…there were so many of my favorites on the list that I almost didn’t choose one. I loved Stagecoach and 3 Godfathers as much as The Quiet Man, but in the end, the last was first. Great cast, great story, many laughs and a lot of fun. Of course, now when I watch it, I also think of McClintock.

  • Cynthia LaRochelle

    “The Searchers” was Waynes” favorite western, as is mine,,,,,

  • mike jaral

    you are not kidding, a very hard poll. I picked the quite man also. the triolgy of his, She wore a yellow ribbon, rio grande, and fort apachie are the best of the best, including all the great great actors that ford had working with wayne. most of these movies you can watch over and over. that what makes great movies, the ones you never grow tired try and get the younger generation to watch them.

  • John B

    The Quiet Man although all were great movies. On an interesting note, John Ford paid $10 for the movie rights to Maurice Walsh in 1936. Later paid him another $2500 when Republic finally bought the movie and finally $3750 when production was complete. Quite a pultry sum to pay for such a great story. Repulic also didn’t believe in Quiet Man so they made John Ford and John Wayne make Rio Grande for them before they would take a chance on Quiet Man.

  • JUanita Curtis

    The Quiet Man and the Searchers are equal favourites of mine – so definitely a difficult choice. John Ford was a very exciting filmmaker and we are sorely missing a director of his calibre in this day and age.

  • Kay Faulks

    What a line-up! All John Wayne films are favorites of mine. The John Ford / John Wayne combo just can’t be beat. Every aspect of “The Quiet Man” is pure perfection! You can’t top that scenery, either. This was a tough list from which to choose. All great films!

  • Robert Raspanti

    No one and I mean no one ever made westerns like Ford and Wayne they all were the best. Hard to pick one so I’ll pick two. “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “Fort Apache”. There movies shall live forever

  • carolyn bellerose

    was fortunate enough to take SJC college course-“America & the Film World of John Ford.(he was from Portland, Maine)His movies have impacted the culture of America throughout the 20th Century. We shall never see this kind of influence for good again.Great book was “In Search of John Ford”–Love all his movies.”The Quiet Man” is my favorite!

  • Harold Herbst

    A coin flip would be just as good as to have to decide a favorite on this list. But I still come back to “They Were Expendable” so I guess that is my favorite. I served in the Navy in small craft (minesweepers) during that era in Westpac and can relate to the sailors and situations. “They Were Expendable” is an extremely well made, and realistic movie. I’m with those guys every time I watch this movie.

  • FilmFan

    I have heard that Ford, on the completion of filming for the “Quiet Man” told Wayne, “Now, you are an actor.” (Instead of just a matinee idol.) The supreme compliment from a certified genius. While I love “The Searchers,” I’ll have to bow the director’s assessment of his star and choose “The Quiet Man.”


    John Ford loved panoramic views and watching the Quiet Man made me want to visit Ireland !! Would
    we be lucky enuff to meet the wonderful people like
    in the movie?

  • John Thomas

    How did John Wayne not get the Oscar for “The Searchers.” I can’t believe anyone gave a better performance that year.

  • Dave J

    Actually Red River was my favorite John Wayne movie…I think it was Montgomery Clift’s very first movie as well. But it is a great film and John Wayne was brilliant. My second favorite is The Searchers.

  • Neil Blount

    I picked They were expedable,maybe, because it was based on a true WWII event. As an aside, the co-star Robert Montgomery’s person portrayed in the movie Lt. William Bulkely (later Adm. Bulkely)became somewhat famous when,as commandant at Guantanamo, told Castro he best not try anything against our forces under his command at Gitmo, There is a destroyer bearing his name which caught some Somali pirayes this past week.

  • Frank

    I’d like to point out to FilmFan that since “The Quiet Man” (1953) preceeded “The Searchers” (1956) Wayne would have been an actor, in Ford’s book anyway, for three or so years.

    (Surprising that no one seems to be offended in the least by Wayne’s pulling Maureen O’Hara by the hair across what seems like the entire Emerald Isle in “The Quiet Man”! There’s a somewhat similar offensive scene in my favorite, “The Searchers.” Can anyone suggest which it is?)

  • Stephen Farris

    A REAL MAN knows how to tame a uncontrollable REDHEAD!!!!

  • John F. Burton

    The teaming of John Wayne and his longtime mentor John Ford, resulted in what is probably the greatest collaboration of star/director in American cinema. As such it is tough to name one, but if I have to I’d say “The Searchers.” That 1957 film is so much more than just “a western.” The complexity of the characterizations, its themes of racism and miscegenation, its striking imagery, and what may be Wayne’s finest performance, make it a unforgettable movie experience, and one that will be watched and studied for years to come.

  • christina

    Have commented on ‘Liberty Valance’ being my favorite before, just wish someone would go into that ‘vault’ and pull out the original long-version instead of the edited one that is shown to this day! Three Godfathers and Stagecoach are my other choices. Love all the others, too.

  • Stan

    Searchers was their best work, but my personal favorite was Quiet Man. The characters from the film made the film great.

  • Mr. Ed

    As some many have already said, this was a very difficult survey. I had to choose one, but there are many others on that list that stand right up there with my choice, “The Searchers.”

    …Liberty Valance, They Were Expendable, The Quiet Man, …Yellow Ribbon, etc., etc. are all great movies. They all offer a great story, strong character emotion, unusual settings and they all simply entertain, which is why we watch movies.

    Suffice to say, they don’t make them like they used to (John Ford, John Wayne and their movies).


    Liberty Valance was my pick.My favorite John Wayne film is Rio Bravo(1959)

  • bob kessler

    I have seen the quiet man at least 100 times never gets old.With st.pat’s around the corner i’ll watch it again.Friends think I’m crazy ‘can receit by heart

  • Roger Z

    I picked ‘She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” because I think Wayne’s performance as an aging army officer was one of his best. Stagecoach and Liberty Valance ran a close second.

  • Colin

    Choosing between “The Quiet Man” and “The Searchers”… fortunately – most choices in life aren’t that difficult!

    As to the “pulling ….. by the hair” comment – please take the opportunity to re-watch this movie. And you’ll notice he drags her a short way by the collar of her sweater when she is trying to put her shoe back on. He does give her a boot in the bum after she takes a swing at him though.

  • Pat

    What I enjoyed most here is reading all the comments and reasons everyone has for voting for their favorites. “The Quiet Man” reminds me of the “romance” my husband and I had. But we loved each other very much right up until his death 35 years later in 2008. We both enjoyed watching that great classic film many times, and of course, we could relate.

  • G. Darrell Russell, Jr.

    Quiet Man is my all time favorite movie. I watch it every year during the High Holy Daze of St. Patrick’s. Always pick up something new that i previously missed. Sean Thorton, what a man. Love him slamming the doors on that beautiful train, while Mary Kate cowered.

  • sugarpussoshea

    hell to the YES!!! Quiet Man is the best Wayne/Ford (Sean Aloyius Kilmartin O’Feeney).
    However, they were a pair that didn’t make a mediocre film – all are worth oscars.
    Thanks for a poll that makes sense……..

  • Viviana M.

    Hands down, my favorite John Ford/John Wayne flick is “The Quiet Man.” Second would be “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
    “The Quiet Man” is John Wayne in his most “romantic” role, I would say. His character is so likeable. And what about Maureen O’Hara’s feistiness? Her dowry or forget it! The rest of the cast only help to make the film what it is – a subtle British classic with everything it needs – comedy, drama, romance, and adventure. Ireland never looked so beautiful and so inviting.

  • Rita

    All great movies but had to pick the Quiet Man. For anyone traveling to Ireland, this is a “must see” movie before departure. This movie does true justice to the Irish spirit and scenery.




    Hell Fighters has always been a favorite of mine and it’s not listed. I have seen most of the movies listed and loved all of them. Of course, I can’t really think of a John Wayne movie I haven’t liked. They don’t make ’em like the Duke anymore.

  • Lenny

    Stagecoach; great story and great supporting stars made for a great movie.

  • bill newlun

    it really didnt have my favorite movie,but i chose my third,i love the dukes movies i havent seen one i hate

  • Schar Saxe

    The toughest choice in the world…how does one choose between The Searchers and The Quiet Man???
    Thanks for the reminder that this is what cinema was once capable of! So many good choices here…I guess my third favorite would have to be Ft. Apache. I have seen each of these three at least 50 times. Guess that makes me a Ford/Wayne nerd…

  • Jeff

    I can’t stand The Quiet Man! Hated it!

  • Bandyman

    John Wayne and John Ford what a movie making team to pick just one movie is “a realy big job ahead of us” as Sgt. Mullcahay stated in Fort Apache.

  • james

    You could always tell a Ford/Wayne production because Ford always used several “regulars” throughout them, etc., like Ben Johnson, Ward bond, Harry Carey, etc…

    Although “The Searchers” is probably their best combined work, I favor “They Were Expendable”…However, Ford gave the lead to Bob Montgomery because he had actual sea duty during WWII while Wayne sat out the war, and Ford himself was also in a Navy uniform in some “hot spots” making training films, etc…Ford always hung that over Wayne’s head (i.e., his sitting out WWII) and it bothered John greatly, BUT he was of HUGE value here at home in so many combat movies (such as “The Flying Tigers”, “Back to Bataan”, “The Fighting Seabees”, etc., etc.) and I think John Wayne got a really bad rap because there is no telling how much recruiting value his films of that era produced, etc!!!

  • Jerry

    Would anyone care to nominate “Angel and the Bad Man” Or, “Tall In The Saddle”?

  • Trainman

    Why would a person ask the question, which is you favorite movie? John Ford and John Wayne were in my eyes icons. I find it impossible to pick just one. I went for Stagecoach, the reason being it was the first of the Duke films I ever saw as a young boy. It made a great impression on me. I have everyone of the Ford directed and all of the Wayne movies. I watch them over and over again and again. I never tire of them.
    This was when Hollywood had actors and Directors who seemed to give a damn. Not that they don’t today but, times have changed we have moved into the modern age everything being computer enhanced to the point of it being fake. John Ford once said to be an actor one needs to live the part because the camera will pick it up if you don’t. I believe the same goes for the director, it was also said of Ford shoot everything, I hate second takes.

  • Randy

    I have watched all of these movies repeatedly as I have every John Wayne movie available on DVD. I love them all, but the combination of John Wayne and James Stewart is irrestistable.

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • luis montero

    Oh my god!!!!…Monument Valley….perfect!
    John Wayne’s close-up introduction shot,powerful!
    Musical score, still lingers in my head.
    John Wayne’s nickname…the Ringo Kid..all right!!
    The horses pulling the stagecoach at full speed while being chase by the Apaches…awesome!!!
    The shoot-out at the end of the film, Ford never showed the outcome neither the shooting…clever.
    The stunt: Yakima Canutt’s big leap from his horse to the front of the horses pulling the stagecoach at full speed…no tricks.
    Great cast.
    7 Academy Awards nominations.
    My son is 26 yeards old, I introduced him to Stagecoach when he was 10 years old….last week he thanked me for the Stagecoach experience.
    My dad did the same thing for me.
    Pass it on.

  • AL UHR


  • Scott Wannberg

    well my personal fave ford wayne is

    The Long Voyage Home based on the Eugene O’Neill short plays-but…

  • Bob VanDerClock

    The Quiet Man..then Liberty Valance for me.It is irritating, however , to watch Ford continually ignore certain minutiae in his films….best example being at the end of Liberty when there’s an in- train conversation about the new trains actually reaching 25 mph!!..while the backlot “speed” of the train looks like it’s going 100…in the Quiet Man, Dannaher clearly misses Thornton with a punch after being pulled out of the stream but you hear the “thwok” anyway..little but glaring errors like that never seemed to bother Ford..wonder why? or were they left in purposely?

  • Jim

    Was John Wayne’s 3-D movie “Hondo” directed by Ford or was someone else behind the camera? Haven’t seen that movie in a long time, but remember that it was quite good.

  • nancy

    always loved john wayne and maureen o’hara together and think this was their best movie together.

  • Ellery Burgess

    I could have picked any on the list. I chose The Quiet Man because it was not a western. The Duke was much more that a western star. He was probably the greatest actor of all time. I movie that I enjoy the most is Rio Bravo. John Wayne and John Ford did greatness that will never be matched.

  • John

    My Top 3 have to be Stagecoach, Liberty Valance and Quiet Man. But when you come down to it, The Duke WAS the movie in only Quiet Man. And it is one of my all-time favorites after all these years. Easy choice, for a great poll. Thanks.

  • Gary Cahall

    Jim, John Wayne’s 1953 western Hondo was in fact directed by John Farrow, husband of Maureen O’Sullivan and Mia Farrow’s dad. He also directed, among other films, the 1948 noir thriller The Big Clock.

  • Bob M

    “The Searchers” is a great movie. The acting is great. But Wayne did not understand the story line. It was Ford’s best message film, like Cheyenne Autumn and Sergeant Rutledge.

  • Dennis

    In my opinion “The Searchers” was the best western ever made let alone the best John Wayne film. I have watched this film so many times I can almost mime all the words.

  • john

    It’s tough to pick just one,there are so many great ones!!! They were quite the team!!!

  • John Stanaway

    I can’t believe that a dumb-as-a-stick and mean-as-a-snake buffoon like Wayne is considered a hero or even an actor. He was the worst ever to become a star. He loved his career more than his country – remember that Herbert Yates warned him that his career was over if he joined the military in WWII. Gene Autry joined the AAF under the same proscription to become one of the few conservatives to put his patriotic money where his mouth was, and endured the cold wrath of Yates. Anyway, I consider Ford’s non-Wayne movies with more respect. MY DARLING CLEMENTINE and MR. ROBERTS are more likely to be considered great Ford films, and they both starred Henry Fonda, a good actor who put his hat in the ring when he joined the Navy in WWII.

  • ekim smada

    My vote was for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It was a super story that twisted at the end when you found out the truth. Jimmy Stewart did a great job as did Lee Marvin.


    I love all John Wayne movies. Quiet Man was one of
    my favorites but i am surprised that North to Alaska wasn’t on your list. He was wonderful in that movie.

  • Rufnek

    James said, “BUT he was of HUGE value here at home in so many combat movies (such as “The Flying Tigers”, “Back to Bataan”, “The Fighting Seabees”, etc., etc.”)

    Actually years ago in connection with a college assignment, I researched the various issues that stimulated enlistments in WWII. Movies had little to do with enlistments, primarily because the favorite films during the war years were musicals and light comedy. Imagine you were working 8+ hour days, 6 days a week building tanks instead of autos, and living with gasoline rationing, meat rationing, butter rationing, scrap drives, and blackouts while up and down your street mothers and wives have little banners in their windows with stars for every family member in uniform, and too often a telegram delivers the news that one of those stars has fallen. Would you want to go see a movie of John Wayne and the Flying Tigers saving China, or would you rather see something that gave you a break from the war? Movie stars were good at selling war bonds in personal appearances and running canteens for service men. But the only person I ever heard of enlisting after seeing a movie was Tony Curtis, and his inspiration was Cary Grant in a submarine film. What had the biggest effect on US enlistments was the war news. Following a report of a major defeat of the Allies, enlistments went up; but with reports of major victories by the Allies, enlistment diminished–apparently young men figured the military didn’t need them if they were winning.
    I don’t buy into the myth that Wayne helped the war with his B-grade movies in the 40s. What he helped was his own career by staying home rather than joining the military. Wayne got a deferment because he was a married man with children. My dad was married with kids and engaged in a vital industry, drilling and producing oil. Yet he joined the Army Air Corps in early 1942 and fought in the Pacific as a gunner on a bomber. Clark Gable, a much bigger star than Wayne at the time and years older, also enlisted and flew at least a few missions aboard bombers (He was probably the only gunner in the war who was also a commissioned officer). Glenn Miller, at the height of his popularity, married with two adopted children and older than Wayne and most other recruits, signed up and died in the war. Jimmy Stewart enlisted even before the war started and flew bomber missions in Europe when the survival rate was minimal. Wayne Morris, who was supposed to be “another John Wayne,” instead became a Navy fighter pilot and ace in the Pacific. But having been out of movie-goers’ sight for years, his career never revived. My favorite, however, is Sabu “the elephant boy” from India who came to this country to make films like The Jungle Book. He became a naturalized US citizen, enlisted, and fought the war as the belly gunner on a B-17.
    Wayne was a good actor, but he sat out WWII when better men were enlisting or being drafted.

  • Rufnek

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was a good movie–for Lee Marvin and Jimmy Stewart, who dominated that film.

  • K

    I wonder why they didn’t include The Long Voyage Home or Donovan’s Reef? Both are worthy movies, if not masterpieces like The Quiet Man (my favorite), The Searchers, or They Were Expendable.

    It was hard to choose a favorite — I’ve enjoyed all of these movies a great deal (although I must admit that I don’t know Rio Grande as well as the others).

  • Michelle Malkin

    From the list: “StageCoach” and “The Man Who
    Shot Liberty Valance” were definitely the
    best. Other favorites are “Angel and the
    Badman” and “Reap the Wild Wind”.

    I also agree with Rufnek about Wayne and WWII.
    Wayne was a coward and a hypocrite whose only interest was in his career, not his country.
    Every time I hear or see anything about what
    a patriot Wayne was, it makes my skin crawl.
    He was a right-wing phony.

  • Davee

    Thanks for offering this enjoyable poll. At least four of the selections deserve to be “First” in a dead heat, but my favorite is Stagecoach. Dynamite cast . . . Incredibly sensitive byplay between The Duke and Claire Trevor, and Ford’s other stock favorites. Of course, Liberty Valance it immensely important in the Ford Canon.

  • tony payne

    With such a great poll and many enjoyable comments made by the fans, I would just like to add a small piece of trivia. There’s a scene in The Searchers where John Wayne is talking to Harry Carey Jnr. and Wayne finishes with the line ‘That’ll be the day!. Who should be sitting in the audience was none other than Buddy Holly – which inspired him to write his first million seller. Apart from that, my favourite is ‘She wore a yellow ribbon’ followed by The Quiet Man. I also loved Ford’s homage to the Welsh miners in ‘How green was my valley’ another moving and very enjoyable film. Marvellous stuff!

  • Pathfinder

    A tough choice because these are all excellent choices. If possible I would have chosen ALL OF THE ABOVE !!

  • wayne johnson

    perfect timeing!!!! i”m watching “yellow ribon” right now. but my favorite is and will always be “The Searchers”. John Wayne has his own acting style, but in “The Searchers” he is just a completely different person. Maybe he is one of my favorite actors because his name is so close to mine, sort of.

  • W.D.(Bill) Southworth

    The Long Voyage Home is my favorite of his early films. Quite a few of the actors that would be in later films with him were in this film. Why you don’t list it
    , I don’t know.

  • Tammi Johnson

    I am not a big John Wayne fan but I love The Quite Man. My favorite would be Stage Coach. I love Claire Trevor and the supporting case is magnificent.

  • Bruce

    So how come The Long Voyage Home and Donovan’s Reef weren’t included in the list?

  • Jennifer

    As good as all of those Ford/Wayne films are, for me it’s THE QUIET MAN, hands down. The stellar cast certainly makes it an excellent viewing experience, as does the verdant Irish scenery, but c’mom, had Ford not hired Maureen O’Hara to play Mary Kate, it would not have been nearly the masterpiece that it is. I think the reason why folks are not offended by Wayne’s manhandling of O’Hara is that we know she could deck him if she chose to. In fact, she throws the first punch in this film–not that I’m advocating violence! Their on-screen chemistry (borne of true friendship) is palpable. I know I am in for a delicious treat anytime I see John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara on screen together. Happy early St. Patrick’s Day, movie lovers!

  • golden1

    The Searchers is the best by far. Incredibly well-written story with deep characterizations, even the supporting characters had depth. It’s a touching fable about love, hate, obsession, loss, vengeance and, ultimately, the triumph of compassion. If only today’s movies were so substantive and intelligent. And if only we had larger than life stars like John Wayne today. I’m not talking about the real John Wayne, who was a self-righteous, bigoted man. I’m talking about the movie star John Wayne. Nobody did that better.

  • Jim


    Thank you for the info on “Hondo.” The connections between Maureen O’Hara, the Farrows and John Wayne may have been as interesting as the movie itself!

  • jim martin

    JOHN WAYNE Was the finest actor I ever saw.Ive got over 100 films on DVD favourites being THE QUIET MAN,McLINTOCK, THE SEARCHERS, WINGS OF EAGLES just to name a few

  • Joan

    Many of us agree on the difficult decision making. I love Quiet Man and actually watched The Searchers again last night. Went with Stagecoach because I am an olde tyme radio and film fan…Stagecoach being one of his first. What a talented man. Wondering if John Ford DVD’s are available in a boxed set.

  • Cat

    I was surprised that Fort Apache came in with such low numbers. That’s one of the best westerns ever made.

  • Gary Cahall

    Fort Apache got my vote, too, Cat. I saw it on TV as a kid and I was surprised to see John Wayne playing voice of reason to Henry Fonda’s racist, martinet commander. It also impressed me with its (for the time) sympathetic portrayal of the Apache, and I learned from the film that Geronimo spoke fluent Spanish.
    Joan, by an amazing coincidence our sister retail site has a complete listing of John Ford titles out on video. Just log onto

  • Babs

    Thank you RUFNEK !!!!” The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, is my favorite…..Good vs. Evil, what could be better then that ?

  • Tlynette

    “I have seen the quiet man at least 100 times never gets old.”

    Agreed — this poll was a cinch!

  • Theresa Lawson

    I feel so sorry for the young women “coming to age” in this time. There is absolutely NO ONE out there in Hollywood land to compare to JW in pure sex appeal. Any one of his movies could win #1 in my book but I chose The Quiet Man. When he grabbed her in the cottage and planted that kiss I nearly fainted. (I was 16 at the time) Ah, youth. Thanks Mr. Wayne for the memories. You’re still missed.

  • Cynthia LaRochelle

    My favorite The Searchers, hands down. Glad they didn’t have Hatari up there, it was stupid, but the music was good.

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  • fred buschbaum

    Each of these are classics, and I never miss a chance to see them.but, The Quiet Man was my choice. As to sitting out the war,did anybody connect his crablike walk to the injury he got it from? I doubt he could pass the entrance physical to get in service. The snide comments sound like a bunch of Democrats! As an actor, most of his films were built around his persona as his fame grew….. But, the oscar for True Grit was well deserved since he really played a part that was not John Wayne. by the way, my dad was married with kids too, got deferred twice because his job as experimental sheet metal leadman couldn’t be replaced by unskilled people. glad to see others who liked Ole in Long Voyge Home too. Don’t know who directed Blood Ally, but, He stepped out of the Wayne persona there too.


    Note,Next time you watch Red River keep an eye out for Shelly Winters.

  • jim martin

    There are a lot who criticise “Duke”for not taking part in WW2. The point is he couldn’t, he didn’t pass the medical because of a Football injury he recieved while playing Football as a teenager at University.

  • Vincent J. Anello

    I liked almost all Duke’s movies, The Searchers is my favorite

  • Antone

    The Searchers. He was at his best when he played a man with major character flaws who was fiercely determined to do what he thought was right.

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