Starring: Tom Selleck, duh
Released: 1979 – 2003
Mood: If you think every old white dude in North America is a piece of garbage and need a reminder in the form of a tall-dark-and-charming moustachioed Western hero that there are still a few truly good guys out there and they’re really, really good with a rifle.
I’ve wanted to write this roundup for a REALLY long time: the best Tom Selleck Westerns, ranked in order!
I take this ranking damn seriously. Tom Selleck is a huge f*cking deal to me, as far as Westerns go. He’s charming and soulful enough to make you fall hard for his characters, yet huge and manly enough that you also buy him as a frontiersman.
Heck, I’ve even stated that he could become Prime Minister of Canada (aka Magnum P.M.). I’m also still a little mad at Monica for choosing Chandler over Richard.
That’s why it’s a great honour that my 80th post for I Review Westerns is all Tom Selleck, all the time.
In my Sacketts series ranking, I delivered the book titles from best-to-worst. This time I’m going to drag it out in reverse order, and make you wait to find out which Tom Selleck movie is his best Western. (Obviously I know 98% of you already scrolled through the headings; just humour me, okay?)
So here it is: Tom Selleck’s Westerns, ranked in order.
#6: Last Stand at Saber River
Here’s something you need to understand right away: being last place in a list of Tom Selleck Westerns still puts you a notch above plenty of other movies. Last Stand at Saber River is a solid movie. It’s got some impressive guns, and it’s a rare occasion where you see Selleck on the Confederate side of the fence.
The main reason Last Stand at Saber River is sixth on my list is simply because I enjoyed Keith Carradine’s performance more. Seriously, read my review to see my list of notable Keith Carradine facial expressions. This is also more of a family movie, albeit a badass frontier family. And that’s not so much my type.
#5: The Sacketts
I’m honestly shocked that The Sacketts is so low on my list. I kept looking at it from different angles, but came up with the same result. And that says something – it’s such a f*cking awesome TV movie, I didn’t WANT to put it in fifth place.
The Sacketts landed lower among Tom Selleck Westerns for the following reasons:
- It’s such a big production – four hours – with so many great characters that there’s not enough Tom Selleck for it to be one of his top Westerns
- He’s saddled with that ‘yellow-haired Pritts girl’ who is so sour that it’s hard to enjoy the scenes she’s in (which are many of Selleck’s scenes)
- Possibly I’m punishing the movie just a little for changing key parts of Orrin’s story in the book (The Daybreakers).
Make no mistake, Selleck makes a suave Orrin, and this movie is really enjoyable. But The Sacketts is just as much a Sam Elliott Western, or even a Ben Johnson or Glenn Ford Western.
#4: The Shadow Riders
Here’s where it gets tricky. The Shadow Riders is another Louis L’Amour novel-turned-movie, also starring Selleck, Elliott, Johnson, and Jeff Osterhage. This one has a more exciting and easily digested story, and you get the bonus of fiery Katharine Ross.
The Shadow Riders is only a hair above The Sacketts on my list because of all that, plus there’s a little more Tom Selleck screen time (and some great cheeky one-liners). It’s fast, funny, and the kind of movie you could throw on at any time for just about any group of people and enjoy it.
#3: Monte Walsh
The reason the middle of this pack is so tricky is actually because of Monte Walsh. This Western is SO DIFFERENT from the previous three. For starters, Tom Selleck is a whole lot older (it was released in 2003). He’s also mostly devoid of his trademark smile. The movie is about aging, and the phasing out of a certain rugged breed of bronc-busting man.
Monte Walsh is one-up on The Shadow Riders because this is a ranking of Tom Selleck Westerns, and this movie puts him front and centre. It’s a meatier role, in a beautifully forlorn story that’s somehow also packed with plenty of Western action.
Selleck has achingly great chemistry with Isabella Rosselini and Keith Carradine. I would watch this movie all the time if it didn’t break my damn heart on every viewing.
#2: Crossfire Trail
Shocker of all shockers, it’s yet another Louis L’Amour story starring Tom Selleck. But this one is SO F*CKING GOOD that if you haven’t seen it you need to stop reading and go find it. Now. Do it.
Crossfire Trail gives you everything you could want, assuming you have good taste in Westerns. You get Tom Selleck opening the movie with a powerful fist fight. Then he goes on this noble mission, supported by an absolutely stellar cast, and he’s falling for one of my favourite female Western characters of all time. She’s strong, smart, and a total badass.
The movie concludes with an absolutely epic horseback chase and shootout. It doesn’t get better than this. Oh wait, yes it does…
#1: Quigley Down Under
I have to be up front that part of the reason Quigley Down Under is Tom Selleck’s best Western is because the bad guy is Alan F*cking Rickman. You start with a villain of that calibre, you’re going to do great things. And Quigley does so much more than any other movie on this list.
- Tom Selleck gets into brawls
- Tom Selleck does jaw-dropping long distance shooting
- Tom Selleck’s gun is literally called the Legendary Sharps
- The action is gripping
- The story is a powerful lesson about Indigenous genocide
- DID I MENTION ALAN RICKMAN?!
This is Selleck at his finest. Like Crossfire Trail, his performance covers a range of emotions, but always rugged, always ready for action. And unlike his other Westerns, this one delivers a somber message despite its comedic overtones.
After just two or three viewings, Quigley solidified itself as my personal favourite Tom Selleck movie. Obviously it struck a chord with Selleck, too; he paid quite a bit to purchase his horse from the film, and fly it from Australia to his ranch in Ventura, California.
And that’s it. That’s my ranking order of Tom Selleck’s Westerns. You might disagree, but that doesn’t matter because a) this is my website, and b) as long as you’re watching his movies and care enough to rank them in your own order, we can be friends.