Few Hollywood film makers have captured America’s Wild West history as depicted in the movies, Rio Bravo and El Dorado. Most Western movies had fairly simple but very similar plots, including personal conflicts, land rights, crimes and of course, failed romances that typically led to drinking more alcoholic beverages than could respectfully be consumed by any one person, as they attempted to drown their sorrows away. The 1958 Rio Bravo and 1967 El Dorado Western movies directed by Howard Hawks, and starring John Wayne have a similar theme and plot. They tell the story of a sheriff and three of his deputies, as they stand alone against adversity in the name of the law. Western movies like these two have forever left a memorable and lasting impressions in the memory of every viewer, with its gunfighters, action filled saloons and sardonic showdowns all in the name of masculinity, revenge and unlawful aggressive behavior. Featuring some of the most famous backdrops in the world ranging from the rustic Red Rock Mountains of Monument Valley in Utah, to the jagged snow capped Mountain tops of the Teton Range in Wyoming, gun-slinging cowboys out in search of mischief and most often at their own misfortune traveled far and wide, seeking one dangerous encounter after another, and unfortunately, ending in their own demise.
Western movies such as Rio Bravo and El Dorado illustrate America’s rugged and picturesque scenery explaining life as it was in the wide open country, at a time when few laws were in place to safeguard the public. These two films tell the story of four men who arrest and
hold an influential man in jail under the assumption that he committed murder, however as they wait for the marshal, who is not exp...
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...len Poe poem recited on numerous occasions by Mississippi. Finally Rio Bravo is a crafty blend of Western adventure with a touch of comedy and was one of Hollywood’s finest at the time. The advertisements for the movie claimed, “There will never be another like Rio Bravo,” Yet seven years later, something very similar to Rio Bravo was released, El Dorado. Then in 1970, Hawks made another film that told the same story with Rio Lobo, again starring John Wayne, making it a trilogy. In 1976, the anecdote was retold again by John Carpenter with his movie, Assault on Precinct 13. Then again in 2005 by Director Jean Francois Richet with his release of Assault on Precinct 13 Even though there are more similarities than differences in these movies, it only goes to show how the same story can be retold over and over again, with some minor differences and character changes.
In the 1959 Film Rio Bravo, a western, we see four men who stand alone in the face of adversity in the name of the law. In the 1966 film El Dorado, also a western, we can see this same scenario played out again. Both films were written by Leigh Brackett and directed by Howard Hawks. Although they are similar in there plot, there are some very obvious differences.
Somewhere out in the Old West wind kicks up dust off a lone road through a lawless town, a road once dominated by men with gun belts attached at the hip, boots upon their feet and spurs that clanged as they traversed the dusty road. The gunslinger hero, a man with a violent past and present, a man who eventually would succumb to the progress of the frontier, he is the embodiment of the values of freedom and the land the he defends with his gun. Inseparable is the iconography of the West in the imagination of Americans, the figure of the gunslinger is part of this iconography, his law was through the gun and his boots with spurs signaled his arrival, commanding order by way of violent intentions. The Western also had other iconic figures that populated the Old West, the lawman, in contrast to the gunslinger, had a different weapon to yield, the law. In the frontier, his belief in law and order as well as knowledge and education, brought civility to the untamed frontier. The Western was and still is the “essential American film genre, the cornerstone of American identity.” (Holtz p. 111) There is a strong link between America’s past and the Western film genre, documenting and reflecting the nations changes through conflict in the construction of an expanding nation. Taking the genres classical conventions, such as the gunslinger, and interpret them into the ideology of America. Thus The Western’s classical gunslinger, the personification of America’s violent past to protect the freedoms of a nation, the Modernist takes the familiar convention and buries him to signify that societies attitude has change towards the use of diplomacy, by way of outmoding the gunslinger in favor of the lawman, taming the frontier with civility.
A more modern outlook on the film recognizes the film's flaws but gives it, it’s credit as the last fully realized work of one of the most important directors in American cinema history. Ford understood that an audience's recollections of older, less complex Westerns would add a layer of expressiveness to the viewing experience. The black-and-white structure helps him achieve this. Ford’s decision to shoot the film in black and white in 1962 produced a dark, anachronistic look, while the unconcealed soundstage effects of the film’s opening scene reinforced Ford’s vision of a wilderness, interiored Western frontier. Just as Ford intended, many of the flashback scenes are masked in darkness, whereas the frame tale is immersed in light. This con...
Over the years, the idea of the western frontier of American history has been unjustly and falsely romanticized by the movie, novel, and television industries. People now believe the west to have been populated by gun-slinging cowboys wearing ten gallon hats who rode off on capricious, idealistic adventures. Not only is this perception of the west far from the truth, but no mention of the atrocities of Indian massacre, avarice, and ill-advised, often deceptive, government programs is even present in the average citizen’s understanding of the frontier. This misunderstanding of the west is epitomized by the statement, “Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis was as real as the myth of the west. The development of the west was, in fact, A Century of Dishonor.” The frontier thesis, which Turner proposed in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition, viewed the frontier as the sole preserver of the American psyche of democracy and republicanism by compelling Americans to conquer and to settle new areas. This thesis gives a somewhat quixotic explanation of expansion, as opposed to Helen Hunt Jackson’s book, A Century of Dishonor, which truly portrays the settlement of the west as a pattern of cruelty and conceit. Thus, the frontier thesis, offered first in The Significance of the Frontier in American History, is, in fact, false, like the myth of the west. Many historians, however, have attempted to debunk the mythology of the west. Specifically, these historians have refuted the common beliefs that cattle ranging was accepted as legal by the government, that the said business was profitable, that cattle herders were completely independent from any outside influence, and that anyone could become a cattle herder.
One might wonder what a 1960 Western American movie would have to do with a 1820s transcendentalist essay. Western movies are often filled with violence and death far from the teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance". Surprisingly, the movie "The Magnificent Seven" has borrowed some ideas from the essay. The premise of the movie lies in a small town terrorized by a bandit named Calvera. The people are forced into giving up their food and goods. The movie emphasizes on the gunslingers that are hired to protect their town, but the innocent farmers are most profound in their discovery of their own strength. Many concepts in this American classic have hints of Emerson's essay.
The setting of the essay is Los Angeles in the 1800’s during the Wild West era, and the protagonist of the story is the brave Don Antonio. One example of LA’s Wild West portrayal is that LA has “soft, rolling, treeless hills and valleys, between which the Los Angeles River now takes its shilly-shallying course seaward, were forest slopes and meadows, with lakes great and small. This abundance of trees, with shining waters playing among them, added to the limitless bloom of the plains and the splendor of the snow-topped mountains, must have made the whole region indeed a paradise” (Jackson 2). In the 1800’s, LA is not the same developed city as today. LA is an undeveloped land with impressive scenery that provides Wild West imagery. One characteristic of the Wild West is the sheer commotion and imagery of this is provided on “the first breaking out of hostilities between California and the United States, Don Antonio took command of a company of Los Angeles volunteers to repel the intruders” (15). This sheer commotion is one of methods of Wild West imagery Jackson
In “The Thematic Paradigm,” Robert Ray explains how there are two vastly different heroes: the outlaw hero and the official hero. The official hero has common values and traditional beliefs. The outlaw hero has a clear view of right and wrong but unlike the official hero, works above the law. Ray explains how the role of an outlaw hero has many traits. The morals of these heroes can be compared clearly. Films that contain official heroes and outlaw heroes are effective because they promise viewer’s strength, power, intelligence, and authority whether you are above the law or below it.
"Relocating the Cowboy: American Privilege in "All the Pretty Horses"" Pepperdine University: Global Tides Seaver Journal of Arts and Sciences. Maia Y. Rodriguez, 2014. Web. 2 May 2016. . The Western typically illustrates the journey of a man, usually a horse riding cowboy, into the Western frontier where he must conquer nature "in the name of civilization or [confiscate] the territorial rights of the original inhabitants... Native Americans" (Newman 150). What this brand of mythology promotes is precisely the values of American culture: rugged individualism, achievement and success, activtity and work, democracy and enterprise, and--most importantly--
Western films are often related to cowboys, horses, railroads, rifles, saloon girls, outlaws, robbers, sheriff, and blue skies with rolling hills. Goodykoontz and Jacobs (2014) noted, “Typical westerns deal with maintaining law and order on the frontier, and their conflict derives from easily defined opposites of good vs. evil” (p. 81). However, Peckinpah chose to bring war and violence to a new level in the action packed western which is graphically displayed in the opening scene “Bank Shootout” (Movieclips, 2014). In this scene, a
As the American landscape began to broaden its horizons, its administration of justice had to expand to accommodate new situations and environments. In the early nineteenth century, due to lack of law enforcement, the frontier presented itself as heavenly to outlaws and bandits (Schmalleger 139). Many citizens took up the task of protecting others in a form of vigi...
The Mexican is a film about a pistol named “The Mexican”. The pistol, which is believed to have a curse, is highly sought out on the black market. Throughout the film, many locals recognize the pistol and each one recalls a different story behind it. Although they are different, they all possess similar themes. Ultimately, it is revealed that a poor gunsmith made the pistol. It was supposed to be a wedding gift for a nobleman who sought to marry the gunsmith’s daughter. The protagonist, Jerry Welbach who played by Brad Pitt, is assigned to acquire the pistol for his employer Margolese, Gene Hackman. Months before, Welbach crashed into Margolese while he had a person tied up in the trunk. Since Margolese went to jail and it was technically Welbach’s fault, Margolese forced Welbach into a life crime. The film follows Welbach’s journey as he attempts to acquire the pistol. For the purpose of this blog, it is important to recognize the portrayal of Americans in a Mexican setting as well as the roles of Mexicans and Mexico.