Best Raquel Welch Movies and Where to Stream Them

There aren't many stars as iconic as Raquel Welch.

In a career spanning nearly 60 years, Welch has had a long and storied life. From her humbling beginnings as a background actress in the Elvis Presley film, Roustabout, Welch soon became one of the most universally recognized stars in all of Hollywood in the 1960s onwards, starring in numerous films showcasing her range as a talented actor who masterfully commanded the screen.

A huge figure in modern pop culture, Welch made a name for herself starring in various films from the 1960s onwards, playing strong female characters who proved there was more to her roles than her obvious physical beauty. Inheriting the role of an internationally-known sex symbol from earlier predecessors like Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe, Welch was responsible for breaking the preconceived mold for female stars of her day, portraying characters who were as strong and fully formed as her cinematic male counterparts.

Best Raquel Welch Movies and Where to Stream Them

With Welch's eighty-first birthday having recently passed, we thought we'd take a look at some of Welch's most famous roles, and provide a retrospective look at her lengthy career.

Fantastic Voyage

Best Raquel Welch Movies

One of the campiest, fun, and most over-the-top science fiction films released during the 1960s' (a period in film that was characterized by campy, over-the-top sci-fi films), Fantastic Voyage was the kind of lighthearted movie that audiences had loved so much throughout the '50s and '60s.

Directed by Richard Fleischer (a director whose sensibility for family-friendly entertainment was evident through movies like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Fantastic Voyage follows a submarine crew shrunken down to microscopic size who travel into the bloodstream of an injured scientist to repair his brain.

Along with the 1957 adaptation of Richard Matheson's The Incredible Shrinking Man, it's one of the main movies that launched a focus on miniaturization in science fiction, with Fantastic Voyage still being referenced through various movies and shows over the years, from Innerspace, to Dexter's Laboratory, to Rick and Morty. 

While the film was an overwhelming success–going on to win Oscars for Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects–it would also serve as a milestone in Welch's career. Her first film under contract for 20th Century Fox, it helped establish Welch as a leading actor, serving as her first major breakout success in Hollywood.

Streaming on Hulu (premium subscription required)

One Million Years B.C.

Best Raquel Welch Movies

Known today for producing one the most iconic photos of the 1960s', Welch's next starring role after the success of Fantastic Voyage was the 1966 remake of the 1940 fantasy film, One Million B.C. 

The film, set during a fictional prehistoric age where both dinosaurs and cavemen inhabited the world at the same time, stars John Richardson as a tribal outcast named Tumak who finds refuge with a peaceful band of cave-dwellers, including the quiet but enrapturing Loana (Welch). After Tumak is once again banished from this new tribe, he is joined by Loana as the two wander the hostile, dinosaur-infested land, with only each other to rely on.

Like Fantastic Voyage, One Million Years B.C. would again be another major success in Welch's career. Despite having only three lines of dialogue, her role as the silent but formidable Loana won her instant acclaim, thanks largely to a now-famous publicity photo she took for the film wearing her character's fur bikini. The photo would instantly become one of the best-selling posters of the time, helped propel Welch to immediate pin-up girl status, as well as establishing her as the definitive sex symbol of the 1960s'.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online


Best Raquel Welch Movies

Following the breakout success she received from Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C., Welch next appeared as a supporting actor in the Peter Cook, Dudley Moore film, Bedazzled. 

Acting as a comedic retelling of the Faust story set in '60s Swinging London, Moore plays a lonely, depressed young cook who agrees to sell his soul to the Devil (Cook) in exchange for seven wishes. Advising Moore's character throughout are the biblical seven deadly sins, with Welch playing Lust, or “Lilian” as she is also referred to in the film.

Like many of Moore and Cook's various projects, Bedazzled is a light-hearted romp of a movie, perfectly showcasing both actors' comedic talents, with Roger Ebert favorably comparing them as the spiritual successors to earlier comedy partnerships like Ray Goulding and Bob Elliott. Welch provides one of the film's funniest moments as Lust, sharing a short but memorable bedroom sequence where she seduces Moore's hapless short-order cook.

However minor her role was compared to Cook or Moore’s, Welch's casting as Lust was further indicative of her growing appreciation in the audience's eyes. Having her appear literally as the embodiment of physical desire was a bit on the nose, but proved her popularity as one of the quintessential female actors of the 1960s’.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online


Best Raquel Welch Movies

Welch would go on to star in a number of Westerns during the late 1960s' into the '70s, most of them, unfortunately, forgettable. Her first starring role in the genre came with 1968's Bandolero!, with Welch portraying the romantic interest of leading man, Dean Martin.

The film centers around two estranged brothers (Martin and Jimmy Stewart) fleeing across the Texas desert with a gang of brutal bandoleros and a posse–led by the wholesome Sheriff July Johnson (George Kennedy)–in hot pursuit.

Admittedly, Bandoleros! isn't an altogether great film. It's mired by the tired performances of both Martin and Stewart, who may have played the two dashing outlaw brothers extremely well if they were paired together in the 1950s', but were starting to show signs of noticeable fatigue and visible aging in this film (Stewart was 60 and Martin was 51, whereas Welch was only 28 when the film was released).

However unremarkable the movie itself was, Bandolero! illustrated Welch's continuing success in Hollywood, as she found herself playing opposite established Hollywood icons like Martin and Stewart. Like Bedazzled before it, her role in Bandolero! was a relatively minor one, but showcased her rising star status in the 1960s' as an actor able to hold her own against veterans like Martin, Stewart, and Kennedy.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online

Hannie Caulder

Best Raquel Welch Movies

From 1968 to 1971, Welch starred in a series of films that failed either critically or commercially (including middling movies like 100 Rifles, Flareup, and The Magic Christian). After the universally panned Myra Breckinridge, Welch managed to break her streak of underwhelming films with the 1971 Western revenge film, Hannie Caulder. 

In a role that was somewhat outside her usual performances, Welch starred as frontier wife Hannie Caulder, a happily married woman whose life is destroyed by the sudden arrival of three outlaws (Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Strother Martin) who rape Hannie, kill her husband, burn down their house, and leave her dead. Barely surviving, Hannie enlists the help of a bounty hunter (Robert Culp) to teach her how to use a gun before embarking on a mission of vengeance against the three men who ruined her life.

In the 1970s', revisionist Westerns had slowly become the new norm, with directors trying to put some sort of spin on the traditional Western narrative that audiences would enjoy. Casting Welch as the strong, competent prairie wife who decides to hunt down those who wronged her made for an interesting, much-needed career choice for Welch, with the actor bringing an emboldened, no-nonsense performance to the film rather than relying on the comedic or melodramatic side of her repertoire as had been the case in her earlier films.

Debuting to mixed reception initially, the film has warmed in appreciation among more contemporary audiences, with Quentin Tarantino even citing it as a huge inspiration for Kill Bill.

Streaming on Hulu


Best Raquel Welch Movies

Immediately following her leading role in Hannie Caulder, Welch's next project saw her join Burt Reynolds, Jack Weston, and Tom Skerritt as officers of the fictional “87th Precinct.”

An adaptation based on the hit crime novels of Ed McBain (who also provided the script for this film), Fuzz follows the all-star police team investigating numerous crimes, including an extortion racket run by an enigmatic deaf man (Yul Brynner) causing the deaths of numerous high-ranking city officials, as well as a series of arson attacks on their city’s homeless population.

It's always tough to balance an ensemble piece–one or two actors always tending to outshine the others involved–but in Fuzz, everyone manages to balance their performances to the benefit of one another, playing off each other's energy and giving the film enough momentum to keep moving forward.

Fuzz is a much more lighthearted interpretation of McBain's original series, offering a fresh, entertaining take on the police procedural genre. It may not be Welch's most famous movie, but once again, she was able to confidently appear alongside screen giants like Burt Reynolds without flinching, proving how established and experienced an actress she was becoming by the mid 1970s'.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online

Kansas City Bomber

Best Raquel Welch Movies

Sports dramas were all the craze in the 1970s', with studios churning out memorable, entertaining movies that focused on football (The Longest Yard), baseball (The Bad News Bears), and hockey (Slap Shot) that managed to blend comedy with some slight action involved.

Like many stars of the '70s, Raquel Welch was not immune to following cinematic trends (similar to her run of revisionist Westerns during the 1960s'), and in 1973, she found herself starring in the roller derby sports drama, Kansas City Bomber.

The film follows Welch as a talented roller derby skater who moves from Kansas City to Portland to take care of her young daughter (played by a very young Jodie Foster). As she starts playing for a new team, she becomes romantically involved with the team’s owner (Kevin McCarthy), who soon reveals a more ruthless, twisted side to his character whose only goal is to keep Welch's skater on his team indefinitely.

Like Hannie Caulder before it, Kansas City Bomber was a unique entry in Welch's filmography. Looking back at her extensive career, more often than not, Welch was either featured in supporting roles or in ensemble-heavy pieces. When given the chance to take center stage in a film that played to her strengths as an actor, Welch was able to deliver and then some, brilliantly playing the main character of Kansas City Bomber.

Streaming on Hulu (premium subscription required)

The Last of Sheila

Best Raquel Welch Movies

In 1973, Welch was featured in yet another ensemble piece, a murder mystery film titled The Last of Sheila that pitted her alongside actors Richard Benjamin, James Coburn, Ian McShane, Joan Hackett, Dylan Cannon, and James Mason.

The plot of The Last of Sheila follows a group of friends attending a one-week pleasure cruise thrown by a wealthy, successful movie producer (Coburn) on the anniversary of his wife's unsolved hit-and-run death a year earlier. As the friends set sail on their cruise and the festivities begin, the producer's parlor games he insists his guests play soon grow more and more serious, gradually appearing to center around the identity of his wife's killer.

A straightforward murder mystery film, The Last of Sheila is a classic whodunnit in the manner of Clue or an Agatha Christie adaptation, down to the isolated, extravagant setting preventing outside help from coming reminiscent of And Then There Were None, The Murder on the Orient Express, and Death on the Nile.

It's an extremely entertaining movie, with Welch more than able to perform alongside Hollywood heavies like Coburn, Mason, and Hackett, as had been the case with her previous ensemble films.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers e1635285720670

In 1973, acclaimed British director Richard Lester decided to adapt Alexandre Dumas's now-classic adventure novel, The Three Musketeers, in what would be the fourteenth and arguably the best adaptation of Dumas's novel to date.

The film focuses on a young country bumpkin named D'Artagnan (Michael York) who aspires to one day become a French musketeer. As he travels to Paris to pursue his dreams, d'Artagnan soon encounters three musketeers that he quickly becomes friends with, and the four combat the villainous, power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) and his attempts to gain control of France.

In his adaptation of The Three Musketeers, Lester managed to stay largely faithful to the original source material and overall story, but also added in a decent amount of comedy to make the 17th-century text somewhat more appealing to modern audiences. The effort resulted in an incredibly entertaining movie that blended swashbuckling action reminiscent of 1940s Errol Flynn adventures films with plenty of light-hearted humor, featuring a fantastic cast that included talents like Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Lee, Heston, York, and of course Welch.

The movie was a huge critical and financial success, and even earned Welch her first and only Golden Globe for Best Actress–Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for her role as d'Artagnan's love interest, Constance, a dressmaker fiercely loyal to Queen Anne of Austria. Today, her role as Constance in The Three Musketeers and its sequel, The Four Musketeers, remains the most praised performance in her entire career.

Streaming on Prime Video (premium subscription required)

The Wild Party

Best Raquel Welch Movies

After a small return to more comedy-centric performances in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, both of which she found acclaim for, Welch's next role found her starring in the 1975 comedy-drama film, The Wild Party. 

Set in 1929, the film focuses on silent movie star Jolly Grimm (James Coco) who has the otherwise perfect life–including a happy marriage to a beautiful wife (Welch), a lovely mansion, and extreme wealth–except for the fact that he is fading in popularity among audience members. Looking to make one last, career-altering comeback, Jolly decides to make his own epic film that will transition him from silent films into the “talkies,” throwing a lavish party at his mansion for the premiere that quickly grows out of hand.

Inspired by the life and career of Fatty Arbuckle, The Wild Party is indeed wild in every sense of the word. Part comedy, part melodrama, part character study, initial reviews of the film were mostly negative, although some faint praise did go to Coco's main character and Welch's supportive wife.

Regardless, the poor reception of the film had begun to spell a gradual shift in Welch's career away from film that would become more and more prevalent as the years went on. No longer would she appear in multiple films a year as had been the case with her early filmography. By 1977, she had practically all but retired from appearing regularly in film, taking a 17-year-long break between '77's Animal and her cameo in Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult.

She would appear semi-regularly on television, such as appearances on The Muppets and Mork & Mindy, but her golden years as an active movie star had more or less passed, leaving a distinct vacancy among Hollywood's female actors that proved incredibly difficult to ever fill as Raquel had.

Not currently streaming, but can be rented online

Final Thoughts

Since first appearing in film, Raquel Welch has quickly become one of the most famous, recognizable of an entire generation. In a career spanning six decades, she's appeared in British comedies, prehistoric action fantasy films, and kitschy science fiction films that helped establish her as one of the most famous celebrities of the 1960s and 1970s, and one of the most iconic female actors of her time.

Her endless appearances, costumes, and publicity photos from such films as Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C. remain arguably more well-known than the actual films themselves, and continue to hold a special place in audience’s hearts (especially the famous doe-skin poster, which remains one of the highest-selling pin-up posters of all time).

A prolific actor, she's appeared in numerous films and TV shows, playing strong female characters that challenged the preconceived norms of female actors’ performances, and also helped contribute to ending the blonde bombshell phenomenon that saw actresses like Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors, and Marilyn Monroe dominate Hollywood films.

At 81, Welch may have one of the most accomplished careers in cinematic history, helping to redefine the strong roles female actors would play in film from the 1960s onwards, and also establishing many notable trends for her day (including popularizing the “big hair” fad).

We don't know what the future holds for Ms. Welch, but with a career as influential as hers, there's no denying the significant effect she's had not just on film, but on popular culture as a whole.

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Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).