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Starting in 1996 I gleaned the web, newspaper articles, magazines, pictures, etc. which I wanted to keep and along with some original content and some things I'm interested in and I hope you are too posted them. I come from Missouri originally and operated this site from Oklahoma now Texas. I have a construction background, but since a stroke I do this Web Site. The Contact Us and The Small Print are located on the contact page.
You were either the 'good guy' or the 'bad guy' growing up in the 50s. But one thing was for sure, most of us were Cowboys. TV, comic books and the movies were where the outlaws, gunfighters, Indians, and lawmen rode the range in the wild west for us and made us all dream of being there.
Western films are the major defining genre of the American film industry, a nostaligic eulogy to the early days of the expansive, untamed American frontier (the borderline between civilization and the wilderness). They are one of the oldest, most enduring and flexible genres and one of the most characteristically American genres in their mythic origins. This indigenous American art form focuses on the frontier West that existed in North America.
Western films have also been called the horse opera, the oater (quickly-made, short western films which became as commonplace as oats for horses), or the cowboy picture. The western film genre has portrayed much about America's past, glorifying the past-fading values and aspirations of the mythical by-gone age of the West. Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed.
Usually, the central plot of the western film is the classic, simple goal of maintaining law and order on the frontier in a fast-paced action story. It is normally rooted in archetypal conflict - good vs. bad, virtue vs. evil, white hat vs. black hat, man vs. man, new arrivals vs. Native Americans (inhumanely portrayed as savage Indians), settlers vs. Indians, humanity vs. nature, civilization vs. wilderness or lawlessness, schoolteachers vs. saloon dance-hall girls, villains vs. heroes, lawman or sheriff vs. gunslinger, social law and order vs. anarchy, the rugged individualist vs. the community, the cultivated East vs. West, settler vs. nomad, and farmer vs. industrialist to name a few. Often the hero of a western meets his opposite "double," a mirror of his own evil side that he has to destroy.
Typical elements in westerns include 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 stagecoachs, shoot-outs and showdowns, outlaws and sheriffs, cattle drives and cattle rustling, stampedes, posses in pursuit, barroom brawls, 'search and destroy' plots, breathtaking settings and open landscapes (the Tetons and Monument Valley, to name only a few), and distinctive western clothing (denim, jeans, boots, etc.).
Western heroes are often local lawmen or enforcement officers, ranchers, army officers, cowboys, territorial marshals, or a skilled, fast-draw gunfighter. They are normally masculine persons of integrity and principle - courageous, moral, tough, solid and self-sufficient, maverick characters (often with trusty sidekicks), possessing an independent and honorable attitude (but often characterized as slow-talking). The Western hero could usually stand alone and face danger on his own, against the forces of lawlessness (outlaws or other antagonists), with an expert display of his physical skills (roping, gun-play, horse-handling, pioneering abilities, etc.).
The roots of the film western are found in many disparate sources, often of literary origins. James Fenimore Cooper's novels such as his 1826 story The Last of the Mohicans (re-made as a feature film at least three times - Clarence Brown's 1920 version, a 1932 version starring Harry Carey, and George Seitz' 1936 version with Randolph Scott, and most recently as the popular film The Last of the Mohicans (1992) starring Daniel Day Lewis as the heroic white frontiersman scout named Hawkeye, raised as a Mohican)
Owen Wister's influential The Virginian, published in 1902, was the first modern western novel. Prolific Zane Grey's (1875-1939) 60+ novels that inspired dozens of films, including his best-known western Riders of the Purple Sage (1918, 1925, 1931, 1941); also The Rainbow Trail (1918, 1925), George Seitz's The Vanishing American (1925) - the first film made in Monument Valley, Rangle River (1937), The Mysterious Rider (1933, 1938), Lone Star Ranger (1942), Nevada (1927, 1936, 1944), Western Union (1941), Gunfighters (1947), and Red Canyon (1949).
Screen cowboy Gene Autry's "Cowboy Code" (or Cowboy Commandments) written in the late 1940s - is a collection of moralistic principles and values that cowboys reportedly live by, including such tenets as: the cowboy never shoots first or takes unfair advantage, always tells the truth, must help people in distress, and is a patriot.
The 'first real movie' or commercially narrative film that gave birth to the genre was Edwin S. Porter's pioneering western The Great Train Robbery (1903). Porter (named 'the father of the story film') was responsible for the one-reel, 10-minute long film, shot - curiously - on the East Coast (New Jersey and Delaware) rather than the Western setting of Wyoming. [The first westerns were shot, until 1906, on the East Coast. The first western produced in the West was Biograph's A California Hold Up (1906).]
Almost all the essential elements or conventions of typical westerns were included: good guys vs. bad guys, a robbery or wrong-doing, a chase or pursuit, and a final showdown, all in a natural setting. The film ended (or began) with a stunning close-up (the first!) of a gunman (George Barnes) firing directly into the camera - and audience. It was the most commercially successful film of the pre-nickelodeon era.
One of its stars with multiple roles, Gilbert M. Anderson (Max Aronson), later took the name "Broncho Billy" Anderson and became famous as the first western film hero - the genre's first cowboy. As in other genres, westerns quickly became character-driven and stars began to be developed.
Shakespearean actor William S. Hart (1870-1946) came to prominent stardom in westerns. Hart was often portrayed as a "good bad man" on the screen (with his Pinto pony named Fritz). He emerged as one of the greatest Western heroes in the mid-1910s, until the release of his last film in 1925.
Director/producer Howard Hawks worked with John Wayne in four films, the best of which was the realistic cattle drive epic in the genre - the beautifully-photographed black and white Red River (1948). It dramatically told about an historic cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail (the film was the Western equivalent of Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)) from Texas to Abilene, in which Wayne played an obsessive, authoritarian, tough and irrational cattle baron battling his foster son Montgomery Clift. [This was Hawks' first Western, although he had earlier worked - uncredited - on Viva Villa! (1934) and The Outlaw (1943).] Red River had all the elements of classic westerns: Indian attacks, scenic grandeur, stampedes, romance, and a generational battle of wills between father and son with John Wayne in an unsympathetic role.
The other magnificent westerns Hawks and Wayne made together included the humorous, action-filled western Rio Bravo (1959) with John Wayne as a tough-guy sheriff (and deliberately filmed as a reaction to High Noon), El Dorado (1967), and Rio Lobo (1970). Rio Bravo (1959) teamed Wayne with a drunken sheriff (Dean Martin) and teenaged sharpshooter (Ricky Nelson - and was remade as John Carpenter's action-thriller Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
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