Analysis of Classic Hollywood Cinema: Stagecoach Essay

Analysis of Classic Hollywood Cinema: Stagecoach Essay

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The characteristics, features and conventions of Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939) allow this film to fit directly under the title of Classical Hollywood cinema. The film uses a few main characters that the audience members get to know well and create their own feelings for. In Stagecoach, there are nine main characters that the audience gets to know well, Dallas, Ringo Kid, Buck, Hatfield, Doc Boone, Lucy Mallory, Curley, Gatewood and the lieutenant. These characters are consistent throughout the story and the audience members begin to understand them as the story develops.
The story’s development consists of a single goal, the characters’ goal to make it to Lawrenceburg. The characters confront antagonists who allow each character to further develop throughout the film as they reveal their true selves to the audience members. The main characters have to endure the uncomfortable ride to Lawrenceburg, the Apache attack on the plains, the birth of Mallory’s child and the “final battle” between Ringo and the Plummers. During the uncomfortable ride to Lawrenceburg, Dallas and Ringo are developed into the outcasts of the film, who live on the edge of society and are looked down upon by the upper class such as Hatfield, Mallory and Gatewood. The Apache attack on the plains allows Ringo to develop a hero-type character whose sharp-shooting helps save the riders in the stagecoach from impending death. The birth of Mallory’s child allows Gatewood to develop into an evil character that is willing to risk the life of a child in order to ensure he makes it to Lawrenceburg in time.
The film creates closure by the use of a happy ending that creates an emotional release for the audience. The audience is happy that it is revealed Ringo and Dallas...

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...ness because they are used to the socially constructed world they are living in. The scene helps to further develop the social commentary of this film. While initially the upper class looked down upon Hatfield, now even Hatfield looks down upon Dallas and Ringo, showing that Dallas and Ringo are on the edges of society. This shows that even in the Midwest, “the land of opportunity”, social classes still preside over everything and the “opportunity” is not an opportunity for all.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Matthew. “The Classical Hollywood Western Par Excellence.” Film Analysis: A Norton Reader. Eds. Jeffrey Geiger and R.L. Rutsky. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2nd edition, 2013. 298-318.
Kerner, Aaron M.. “Irreconcilable Realities.” Film Analysis: A Norton Reader. Eds. Jeffrey Geiger and R.L. Rutsky. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2nd edition, 2013. 462-83.

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