Classic Western Films Quiz (2024)

By: Kate Kershner

3 min

Classic Western Films Quiz (1)

Image: John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Getty Images

About This Quiz

There's nothing like the big open sky, towering red rock desert formations and the sound of a galloping horse. If you fancy yourself an aficionado of gun-slingers, ponies and the occasional whiskey, all set against the gorgeous scenery of the American West, then you'll love this quiz about classic (and not-so-classic) Western films!Whether you're a die-hard Sergio Leone fan or have no idea where the phrase "Spaghetti Western" comes from, challenge yourself and learn something new.

Did you know that former United States president Harry S. Truman's favorite film was a Western? Do you know which one? Do you know how many Westerns have won the Academy Award for Best Film? Perhaps you're more interested in the famous four-legged friends of our cowboy heroes. Sure, you may know the name of the Roy Rogers horse in his films, but do you know what name his horse was given at birth?

From the turn of the 20th century to modern times, the genre has captured our attention and imagination. Find out how much you know about classic Western films by taking this quiz!

What filmmaker spawned the Spaghetti Western genre?

Sergio Leone

Clint Eastwood

John Huston

Steven Spielberg

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Sergio Leone spawned the largely Italian enterprise. These Westerns are called "spaghetti" Westerns because of their Italian roots. Leone was the most successful of these directors and worked with actors like Clint Eastwood.

James Stewart and John Wayne starred in "The Man Who Shot" what title character?

The Angry Farmer

Liberty Valance

Jesse James

Buffalo Bill

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Lee Marvin played the titular character in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." It had a stellar cast, including John Wayne and James Stewart.

What film takes its name from a classic Western folk song?

"Home on the Range"

"My Darling Clementine"

"Back in the Saddle Again"

"Crawdad Song"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Henry Fonda starred in the 1946 film, "My Darling Clementine." While not only considered one of the best films in its genre ever made, it was also the favorite film of former US president, Harry Truman.

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What classic Western did John Wayne not star in?

"She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"

"Rio Grande"

"Broken Arrow"

"True Grit"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

He wasn't in "Broken Arrow," a James Stewart Western. Unlike most films of the era, it portrayed the indigenous people in the story sympathetically, rather than as one-dimensional and "bad."

Who co-stars with Roy Rogers in "Don't Fence Me In?"

Kirk Douglas

Trigger, the palomino

James Stewart

Clint Eastwood

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Roger's horse, Trigger, is the real star. Trigger, who was born in San Diego, CA, was originally named Golden Cloud. He lived to the ripe old horsey age of 30.

In "Little Big Man," Dustin Hoffman's character is raised by what tribe of Native Americans?

Apache

Sioux

Cheyenne

Chumash

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

"Little Big Man" is a revisionist Western in which Jack Crabb (Hoffman) says the Cheyenne tribe raised him. While there was a historical Little Big Man, he was nothing like the character in the movie.

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How many times has the classic Western novel "Riders of the Purple Sage" been adapted for screen?

Three

Five

Four

One

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The first two were silent films, followed by two film adaptations and one television movie. The story itself was a precursor (and highly influential) to the structure of the Western genre.

In "Bad Day at Black Rock," what is the protagonist missing?

An arm

A leg

A cowboy hat

An eye

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Spencer Tracy plays the main character, who's missing an arm. Tracy won an Oscar for the role.

What movie made John Wayne a star?

"The Quiet Man"

"True Grit"

"Stagecoach"

"Randy Rides Alone"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Although the Duke had been in film for nearly 10 years, it was 1939's "Stagecoach" that launched his career as a leading man. It was also the first film that director, John Ford, shot using Oljato-Monument Valley as a backdrop.

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"The Wild Bunch" is considered a Western classic but was also condemned for what reason?

Portrayal of Native Americans

Sexist language

Violent imagery

Terrible musical score

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The 1969 movie is graphically violent but considered a masterpiece by many. There were two separate versions released in 1969. One was ten minutes shorter than the other, to allow more screenings.

Who wrote the famous score for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?"

Elmer Bernstein

Henry Mancini

Ennio Morricone

John Williams

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Morricone's score (and the main theme of the film) is considered one of the most iconic Western scores ever written.

"The Magnificent Seven" is a remake of what film?

"The 400 Blows"

"Cinema Paradiso"

"Seven Samurai"

"The Seventh Seal"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The 1954 Kurosawa film, "Seven Samurai," inspired the 1960 Western (and its 2016 remake). The 1960 film had a star-studded cast that included actors such as Steve McQueen, Yule Brenner and Charles Bronson.

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Charles Bronson's character plays what instrument in "Once Upon a Time in the West?"

Guitar

Accordion

Harmonica

Triangle

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Bronson's character is actually named "Harmonica" in this Spaghetti Western. It also starred Henry Fonda.

In "The Searchers," John Wayne's character is a veteran of what war?

The Civil War

The Spanish-American War

The Mexican-American War

The French and Indian War

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The classic Western tells the tale of a man obsessed with finding his abducted niece in the West. The American Film Institute considers it the greatest American Western ever made.

What Academy Award did "Unforgiven" win in 1993?

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Supporting Actor

All of the above

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The film won all three, as well as the Oscar for Best Film Editing. It was also only the third Western ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

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What unexpected actor starred in the 1954 Western "Johnny Guitar?"

Tony Curtis

Joan Crawford

Desi Arnaz

Lucille Ball

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Crawford was a tough saloon owner. In the early aughts, the film was adapted into an off-Broadway musical.

Where is "High Noon" set?

Texas

New Mexico

South Dakota

Arizona

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The New Mexico territory is where Gary Cooper vows to take his revenge. The film won four Academy Awards.

What does a rival throw on the protagonist in "Shane," taunting him to, "smell like a man"?

Cologne

Horse manure

Whiskey

Chewing tobacco

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Shane's rival throws whiskey on him. The film, which came out in 1953, cost over three million dollars to film, which at the time, was very expensive.

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Where were the real Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid believed to have died?

Wyoming

Mexico

Bolivia

New Mexico

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Historians believe they died in Bolivia in 1908 during a shootout. They were part of "The Wild Bunch" gang that robbed banks and trains.

What is the protagonist's ranch called in "Red River?"

The Not-Red River

The Red River

The Red River D

The Blue River

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

John Wayne's character uses a "D" brand for the cattle on his ranch. The film was chosen to be preserved by the US Library of Congress.

In what year is "No Country for Old Men" set?

1898

1980

1972

1965

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

It's set in 1980. The film is considered a neo-Western rooted in the aesthetics of more classic Westerns.

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"They Died With Their Boots On" was a dramatized biography of what famous Westerner?

General Custer

Billy the Kid

Buffalo Bill

Jesse James

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

This movie was based exceptionally loosely on the life of Gen. Custer. Errol Flynn played Custer and Olivia de Havilland (of "Gone with the Wind" fame) played his wife.

Humphrey Bogart stars in what famous Western?

"The Man From Laramie"

"Broken Arrow"

"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"

"True Grit"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

John Huston won Oscars for his screenplay and directing of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre." The film, which takes place in Mexico, was one of the first Hollywood films to actually shoot some of the film on location in another country.

What does the title of "Winchester '73" refer to?

An Army regiment

A rifle

A location and date

A type of train

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The German Expressionist director, Fritz Lang, was originally supposed to direct the film, but because of problems with wanting to use his own production company, Universal chose Anthony Mann to direct, instead.

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"Dodge City," released in 1939, is set in what real-life town?

Dodge City, Colorado

Dodge City, Alabama

Dodge City, Kansas

Dodge City, Nevada

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The film takes place in the Kansas town. However, the phrase, "Get the hell out of Dodge," comes from the radio-turned-TV Western, "Gunsmoke."

What Western snagged Jack Palance an Academy Award?

"The Lonely Man"

"City Slickers"

"Shane"

"Arrowhead"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

A staple of Westerns, Palance finally earned his Academy Award in 1991's Western(ish) comedy "City Slickers." This was the only Oscar nomination that the film received.

"The Plainsman" is a 1936 film directed by what screen legend?

Victor Fleming

George Cukor

Cecil B. DeMille

John Ford

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The Western is a fictionalized tale of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Gen. Custer and Buffalo Bill, directed by DeMille. It was remade by David Lowell Rich in 1966.

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The film,"Cat Ballou," is what genre?

Comedy

Musical

Western

All of the above

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

The 1965 Western-comedy-musical starred Jane Fonda. Lee Marvin won an Academy Award for Best Actor in the film.

What Rat Packer starred in "Rio Bravo?"

Frank Sinatra

Dean Martin

Joey Bishop

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Dean Martin made the song, "My Rifle, My Pony and Me," a Western classic (along with Ricky Nelson.) The film also starred perennial Western favorite, John Wayne.

Robert Altman directed what classic non-Western?

"True Grit"

"McCabe & Mrs. Miller"

"Steel Magnolias"

"MASH"

Correct Answer

Wrong Answer

Although all the elements of a Western are there, the 1971 film, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," is a subversion of the classics. Leonard Cohen wrote and performed all the music for the film.

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You Got: /30

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