Hollywood Westerns Essay

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Hollywood Westerns essentially focus on the concept of bringing the law to the lawless and for movie goers, it has been said, that the best Westerns were the movies that moved, not only from a physical action standpoint, but also in terms of moving an audience emotionally. It was this engaging combination that garnered the most satisfaction and praise from movie-going audiences. Most film scholars believe the first Western to be ‘Cripple Creek Bar Room’ (W. Dickson’s 1898 tableau). To understand the origin of the Western, one must realise that the genre did not spring to life in full maturity. Its growth stemmed from various roots including Arthurian legends, oral tradition shared through generations, and frontier tales that essentially developed into folk-lore. The dime novels of the 1860s and onwards, pre-dated the advent of movies by one generation. It seems as if Americans in the late 20th century were only slightly aware of how influential the Wild West Shows actually were. They were, after all, the most spectacular arena entertainment, probably since the era of the Roman circuses. Indeed, one could possibly compare the 19th century attendance at such festivals as the forerunner of the popular music rock concerts – they were smash hits not only in America but throughout Europe as well. With time, the Wild West Shows were naturally surpassed by the novelty and shorter duration of motion pictures. Mention ‘Cowboys and Injuns’ and, almost automatically, one thinks of actors like John Wayne, Gary Cooper, WS Hart, Roy Rogers and Tom Mix. One of the most successful directors of this genre was John Ford. He once introduced himself saying, ‘I am John Ford, and I make Westerns’. The somewhat minimizing nature of this rem... ... middle of paper ... ...with approximate takings of US$70-million. Second is ‘Butch Cassidy’ on US$58.4-million, and ‘Blazing Saddles’ comes in, surprisingly, at third place on US$49.2-milllion. The Traditional Western has often been overlooked at awards time; only three have been successful at the Academy Awards, winning Oscars for Best Picture. These include ‘Cimarron’ (1933), Dances with Wolves (1990) and ‘The Unforgiven’ (1992.) To all intents and purposes, the directors did not make the Westerns; it was the Westerns that made the directors. Only John Ford and Sam Peckinpah had the excellence to rise above this material, and make something new of it. Clearly, when one talks about a Western, such discussion is based in the past. The genre, however, remains alive in our memories ………. so get out the popcorn and a cool-drink, and settle back with your favourite dvd or usb stick movie!!

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