This comprehensive study of the Western covers its history from the early silent era to recent spins on the genre in films such as No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, True Grit, and Cowboys & Aliens. While providing fresh perspectives on landmarks such as Stagecoach, Red River, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Wild Bunch, the authors also pay tribute to many under-appreciated Westerns. Ride, Boldly Ride explores major phases of the Western’s development, including silent era oaters, A-production classics of the 1930s and early 1940s, and the more psychologically complex portrayals of the Westerner that emerged after World War II. The authors also examine various forms of genre-revival and genre-revisionism that have recurred over the past half-century, culminating especially in the masterworks of Clint Eastwood. They consider themes such as the inner life of the Western hero, the importance of the natural landscape, the roles played by women, the tension between myth and history, the depiction of the Native American, and the juxtaposing of comedy and tragedy. Written in clear, engaging prose, this is the only survey that encompasses the entire history of this long-lived and much-loved genre.
List of Illustrations
1. Diverse Perspectives in Silent Westerns: Landscape, Morality, and the Native American
2. Not at Home on the Range: Women against the Frontier in The Wind
3. “He Went That-Away”: The Comic Western and Ruggles of Red Gap
4. Landscape and Standard-Setting in the 1930s Western: The Big Trail and Stagecoach
5. Indian- Fighting, Nation-Building, and Homesteading in the A-Western: Northwest Passage and The Westerner
6. Howard Hawks and John Wayne: Red River and El Dorado
7. The Postwar Psychological Western (1946– 1956): My Darling Clementine to Jubal
8. John Ford’s Later Masterpieces: The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
9. The Existential and Revisionist Western: Comanche Station to The Wild Bunch and Beyond
10. Eastwood and the American Western: High Plains Drifter, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Unforgiven
11. Coda: From Lonesome Dove (1989) to Cowboys and Aliens (2011)
Mary Lea Bandy was Director and Chief Curator of the Department of Film and Video at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She has co-edited several books, including Rediscovering French Film, Jean-Luc Godard: Son + Image, and The Hidden God.
Kevin Stoehr is Associate Professor of Humanities at Boston University. He is the author of Nihilism in Film and Television and co-editor of John Ford in Focus.
“A sweeping, insightful account of this most rich and resilient of movie genres. Bandy and Stoehr rescue the Western from the oversimplifications of much recent ideological criticism and present the form in the full range of its emotional complexity and cultural significance.” —Dave Kehr, author of When Movies Mattered: Reviews from a Transformative Decade
“Mary Lea Bandy has spent decades using her inestimable knowledge and innate generosity to open audiences' eyes, encourage other scholars, and campaign for the preservation of film. In Ride, Boldly Ride, she turns her always illuminating analysis to the American western, finally giving it the breadth and depth it has long deserved.” —Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood
“Ride, Boldly Ride has a rare ease and opinionated knowledge about its subject. In this first full-length overview of the Western genre published since the 1970s, Mary Lea Bandy and Kevin Stoehr cover a fine mix of canonical classics and little-known films worthy of more notice. With their engaging and clear style, Bandy and Stoehr make the reader eager to seek out the films covered here, or to seek them out again.” —Scott Simmon, author of The Invention of the Western Film
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