Western Movies

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Transcript Western Movies

American Cinema

• Today – Film Noir due – Film Noir Notes –



• “The Making of the West” notes

Western Movies

The Making of the West

An Overview

• Major defining genre of American film industry • Nostalgic look at days of the untamed American frontier • One of the oldest, most enduring and flexible genres • One of the most characteristically American genres • Telling stories set in the American West • Nostalgic historical feel

Setting and Time

• Set in the American West • Almost always in the 19 th Century (1800’s) • Often incorporate the Civil War into the film directly, or the background • May extend further back into the colonial period • Or forward into the mid-twentieth century • May range geographically from Mexico to Canada Usually set against stunning American landscapes • Stress the harshness of the landscape, or juxtapose the beauty of it with the dirtiness of a town

Some possible locations

• Isolated forts • Ranch houses • Isolated homestead • Saloon • Jail

The Hero

Typical traits

• Often semi–nomadic characters • Sole possessions consist of clothing, a gun and maybe a horse

Traditional Western Heroes

• local lawmen • ranchers • army officers • cowboys • territorial marshals • skilled, fast-draw gunfighter

Traditional Elements

• Hostile elements (often Native Americans) • Guns and gun fights (sometimes on horseback), • Violence and human massacres • Horses • Trains (and train robberies) • Bank robberies and holdups • Runaway stage coachs • Shoot-outs and showdowns • Depicts code of honor rather than law • Social status through acts of violence, or generosity

Traditional Elements continued

• Outlaws and sheriffs • Cattle drives and cattle rustling • Stampedes • Posses in pursuit • Barroom brawls • Breathtaking settings and open landscapes • Distinctive western clothing (denim, jeans, boots, etc.)

Spaghetti Westerns

• Revival of the western genre in Italy (1960’s) • Low budget films • Locations chosen for their cheapness, and similarity to American mid-West (southern Spain was often chosen) • More action and violence than Hollywood westerns • Clint Eastwood started his career in these

Revisionist Westerns

• Questioned the role of native as a savage • Questioned the hero versus villain theme • Some gave women much larger roles

Our Films

• • •

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance –

1962 – John Ford

The Outlaw Josey Whales

– 1976 – Clint Eastwood

True Grit –

2010 – Ethan and Joel Coen

And Finally…

“As far as I’m concerned, Americans don’t have any original art except western movies and jazz…”

Clint Eastwood

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

• 1966 • Sergio Leone • A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

True Grit

• 1969 • Henry Hathaway • A drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer in Indian territory.

3:10 to Yuma

• 2007 • James Mangold • A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.