Gary Cooper would’ve celebrated his 119th birthday on May 7, 2020. The two-time Oscar winner starred in dozens of movies before his death in 1961, but how many of those titles remain classics? In honor of his birthday, let’s take a look back at 15 of his greatest films, ranked worst to best.
Born in 1901, Cooper got his start in silent movies, most notably the aerial drama “Wings” (1927), which won the very first Academy Award as Best Picture. He would collect his own statuette as Best Actor for another WWI film: the biographical drama “Sergeant York” (1941). Directed by Howard Hawks, it helped create Cooper’s screen persona of an ordinary man capable of extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.
He won a second Best Actor trophy for playing a similar character in Fred Zinnemann‘s western “High Noon” (1952), which cast him as a retired marshal who must stand up to a gang of killers arriving on the noon train. Cooper earned additional nominations for similarly idealistic, heroic roles in “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936), “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942) — in which he played baseball legend Lou Gehrig — and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1943). He received an Honorary Academy Award in 1961.
In addition to his Oscar success, Cooper won a Golden Globe for “High Noon,” competing once again for “Friendly Persuasion” (1956).
Tour our photo gallery of Cooper’s greatest films, including the titles mentioned above, as well as “Morocco” (1930), “Ball of Fire” (1941), “Meet John Doe” (1941) and more.