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American Cinema

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Title: American Cinema


1
American Cinema
  • Today Film Noir due The Making of the West
    notes
  • Thursday Thursday 10/2 Westerns
  • Friday 10/3 Fall break

2
Western Movies
  • The Making of the West

3
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

4
An Overview
  • Telling stories set in the American West
  • Nostalgic historical feel
  • Has diminished in importance as the United States
    moves further away from the period depicted in
    these movies.

5
Setting and Time
  • Set in the American West
  • Almost always in the 19th Century (1800s)
  • 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

6
Some setting conventions
  • Usually set against stunning American landscapes
  • In some movies the landscapes are the stars as
    much as the actors
  • Stress the harshness of the landscape, or
    juxtapose the beauty of it with the dirtiness of
    a town

7
Some possible locations
  • Isolated forts
  • Ranch houses
  • Isolated homestead
  • Saloon
  • Jail

8
The Hero
  • Typical traits
  • Traditional Western Heroes
  • Often seminomadic characters
  • Sole possessions consist of clothing, a gun and
    maybe a horse
  • local lawmen
  • ranchers
  • army officers
  • cowboys
  • territorial marshals
  • skilled, fast-draw gunfighter

9
Iconography
  • Stetsons
  • Spurs
  • Colt. 45s
  • Prostitutes
  • Saloon
  • Sheriff
  • Faithful Steed
  • Indians
  • Some high technology of the era present, e.g.
    telegraph, printing press, railroad
  • Occasionally these referred to as a development
    just arriving, showing the end of frontier
    lifestyle and the march of civilization

10
Common themes
  • Conquest of the wilderness
  • Depicts code of honor rather than law
  • Social status through acts of violence, or
    generosity

11
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

12
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.)

13
Spaghetti Westerns
  • Revival of the western genre in Italy (1960s)
  • 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

14
Revisionist Westerns
  • Questioned the role of native as a savage
  • Questioned the hero versus villain theme
  • Some gave women much larger roles

15
And Finally
  • As far as Im concerned, Americans dont have
    any original art except western movies and jazz

  • Clint Eastwood

16
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.

17
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.

18
310 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.
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