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What is a western, is not a western..?


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How do you define a western?

Here's how I define it:

A drama along the American frontier between 1864 and 1890.

I do not think Civil War films are westerns. Those are part of a sub-genre of the war film. But if something is set in the west during the post-war period and references the Civil War, that's okay.

Also, I do not count "colonial westerns" which means anything set along the frontier before the Civil War. Those would just be plain old historical dramas, or historical adventures.

Anything set in the last decade of the 1800s (1890 to 1900) tends to be about the industrial age, and while traces of western life may still exist, those would not be pure westerns.

Stories set in the countryside from 1900 to 1939 I consider rural dramas. Things like horse racing dramas or depression era dramas.

If there is a story set after WWII in the countryside, I just consider it a rural drama or a contemporary western.

Basically my idea of a western, again, is a frontier drama set in 1864 to 1890, where automobiles and telephones do not exist and we see how the American west and southwest are being settled after the Civil War. If characters travel into Mexico that would be okay, provided most of the action takes place north of the border, in the United States. A story that is set entirely in Mexico during this time period, I would not consider a western about life along the American frontier.

Frontier westerns include mining stories, stories about fugitives, stories about mail order brides, stories about the U.S. Army's dealings with the native tribes, stories about lawless towns that find law and order, those types of things.

What do you say? How do you define a western?

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A trio of John Wayne movies quickly sprung to mind as I read your post: North to Alaska (1960), Big Jake (1971) and The Shootist (1976). All three of these are set in the first decade of the 20th century (the first and last in 1901 and the middle in 1909). And none of them strike me as being rural dramas as per your post's definition. So, if these are not westerns, what are they?

As for me, my opinion as to what constitutes a western (or any cinematic genre) is fairly similar to the beginning of Potter Stewart's opinion on pornography: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..." And when I see any of the three aforementioned movies, I see a western.

Now, granted, I feel that the majority of movies that I have seen which I consider a western meet your definition. But not all.

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1 hour ago, LiamCasey said:

A trio of John Wayne movies quickly sprung to mind as I read your post: North to Alaska (1960), Big Jake (1971) and The Shootist (1976). All three of these are set in the first decade of the 20th century (the first and last in 1901 and the middle in 1909). And none of them strike me as being rural dramas as per your post's definition. So, if these are not westerns, what are they?

As for me, my opinion as to what constitutes a western (or any cinematic genre) is fairly similar to the beginning of Potter Stewart's opinion on pornography: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..." And when I see any of the three aforementioned movies, I see a western.

Now, granted, I feel that the majority of movies that I have seen which I consider a western meet your definition. But not all.

Thanks. Of course, there will be different definitions and viewpoints.

I consider NORTH TO ALASKA a northwestern, which is derivative of the western.

BIG JAKE addresses the changes in technology and it seems to be admitting that the old life on the frontier is over. I would call it an early contemporary western, because there are modes of transportation that do not involve animals (horses or mules).

THE SHOOTIST also feels like a contemporary western because most of the action takes place in a growing town that features a streetcar. Incidentally the book by Glendon Swarthout is better than the film. There are some very good scenes in the book that do not make it on to the screen, because I think they wanted to keep the focus on Wayne's character. I would like it very much if someone remade THE SHOOTIST and included everything that is in the book.

***

When I was working on my definitions, I had to draw a line about hybrids.

I do not consider western comedies pure westerns. Something like FANCY PANTS with Bob Hope, or PARDNERS with Martin & Lewis, feels a bit unauthentic. Like they are using the western genre to put on different costumes and play their usual shtick. So the emphasis is not really on life in the west or the experience of living on the frontier.

Other hybrids up for debate-- western romances; western adventures; western horror; western noir and western musicals.

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1.) The advancement of technology does make for a good deciding factor between one's definition of a western versus a contemporary western. Steam locomotives instead of diesel or electric. Telegraphs instead of telephones. Horses instead of automobiles. Rapid-fire weaponry. And I suspect many will agree with you with respect to that criterion because look and feel is a big driving factor with most genres. But it appears that I just have that particular can kicked farther down the road than you do.

Sticking with John Wayne as an example, The Three Mesquiteers series of the late 30's/early 40's that he was part of probably straddles the border for me between the western and the contemporary western. So, I consider movies like Lonely Are the Brave (1962) and Hud (1963) to be the latter. But movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) which is also set in the first decade of the 20th century and The Wild Bunch (also 1969) which is set in the second decade not so much.

2.) Although, since it is primarily set in Mexico, it appears that The Wild Bunch fails two of your criteria. Does that mean we also have to start reconsidering The Magnificent Seven (1960)? 😲 You're killing me, TB!

3.) As for The Shootist (1976), I read Glendon Swarthout's novel before John Wayne's movie even came out. And it is an excellent book. But when you adapt a novel for the big screen, and you cast someone that much larger than life in it like Mr. Wayne as John Bernard Books (or, another example, as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969)), it is going to force substantial differences between the source novel and the resultant movie. I'm not saying that is a good thing or a bad thing (especially in these two cases where I enjoyed both books and both movies), just a different thing.

4.) I'm with you. Skipping hybrids at this point is probably a good thing. My head hurts just trying to decide what a pure western is! 😀

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1 hour ago, LiamCasey said:

1.) The advancement of technology does make for a good deciding factor between one's definition of a western versus a contemporary western. Steam locomotives instead of diesel or electric. Telegraphs instead of telephones. Horses instead of automobiles. Rapid-fire weaponry. And I suspect many will agree with you with respect to that criterion because look and feel is a big driving factor with most genres. But it appears that I just have that particular can kicked farther down the road than you do.

Sticking with John Wayne as an example, The Three Mesquiteers series of the late 30's/early 40's that he was part of probably straddles the border for me between the western and the contemporary western. So, I consider movies like Lonely Are the Brave (1962) and Hud (1963) to be the latter. But movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) which is also set in the first decade of the 20th century and The Wild Bunch (also 1969) which is set in the second decade not so much.

2.) Although, since it is primarily set in Mexico, it appears that The Wild Bunch fails two of your criteria. Does that mean we also have to start reconsidering The Magnificent Seven (1960)? 😲 You're killing me, TB!

3.) As for The Shootist (1976), I read Glendon Swarthout's novel before John Wayne's movie even came out. And it is an excellent book. But when you adapt a novel for the big screen, and you cast someone that much larger than life in it like Mr. Wayne as John Bernard Books (or, another example, as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969)), it is going to force substantial differences between the source novel and the resultant movie. I'm not saying that is a good thing or a bad thing (especially in these two cases where I enjoyed both books and both movies), just a different thing.

4.) I'm with you. Skipping hybrids at this point is probably a good thing. My head hurts just trying to decide what a pure western is! 😀

Well my criteria is even more narrow, because I am only looking at "A" westerns from 1936 to 1959.

I am reluctant to use John Wayne's films as any sort of barometer since I definitely do not define the genre in its purest form according to him or what he made. But he did appear in many "A" westerns that fit my criteria.

Examples that fit: THE TALL SADDLE (1944); ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947) and RIO BRAVO (1959). 

Examples that do not fit: THREE FACES WEST (1940) is a rural drama; THE HORSE SOLDIERS (1959) is a Civil War drama.

I would like to add that I am answering you sincerely without any mocking tone, not telling you that you're killing me or that my head hurts.

If you want to continue a respectful conversation I am all for it, but if you are unwilling to do that, then I will wait to post with others who chime in on the thread. Thanks.

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I have identified 654 feature films that I consider pure westerns with a running length of at least 70 minutes, produced by Hollywood studios from 1936 to 1959.

I chose 70 minutes so that I could eliminate the many B-westerns which I feel are a separate discussion. Of course, budgets and quality vary widely by studio.

I chose 1936 as my starting point to refute the idea that STAGECOACH (1939) was the first "A" western, because it certainly was not. I did not want to include silent westerns or talkie and precode westerns since I feel those deserve a separate discussion. 

I chose 1959 as my ending point, because I wanted the films I selected to be governed by the production code. After 1960, we see a lot of European westerns and westerns that try to challenge the production code which I feel is a separate discussion. 

I also think television westerns which came into vogue from 1955 forward, first as episodic series then as TV movies and miniseries, are a separate discussion.

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RKO

VALLEY OF THE SUN (1942)

TALL IN THE SADDLE (1944)

BELLE OF THE YUKON (1944)

ALONG CAME JONES (1945)

BADMAN’S TERRITORY (1946)

TRAIL STREET (1947)

RETURN OF THE BAD MEN (1948)

RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948)

STATION WEST (1948)

BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948)

ROUGHSHOD (1949)

SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949)

ROSEANNA MCCOY (1949)

WAGON MASTER (1950)

BEST OF THE BADMEN (1951)

SLAUGHTER TRAIL (1951)

RANCHO NOTORIOUS (1952)

HALF-BREED, THE (1952)

LUSTY MEN, THE (1952)

MONTANA BELLE (1952)

DEVIL’S CANYON (1953)

SILVER LODE (1954)

PASSION (1954)

CATTLE QUEEN OF MONTANA (1954)

AMERICANO, THE (1955)

RAGE AT DAWN (1955)

TENNESSEE’S PARTNER (1955)

TREASURE OF PANCHO VILLA, THE (1955)

TEXAS LADY (1955)

GREAT DAY IN THE MORNING (1956)

TENSION AT TABLE ROCK (1956)

RUN OF THE ARROW (1957)

ALL MINE TO GIVE (1957)

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MGM

20 MULE TEAM (1940)

WYOMING (1940)

BAD MAN, THE (1941)

BILLY THE KID (1941)

HONKYTONK (1941)

JACKASS MAIL (1942)

BARBARY COAST GENT (1944)

GENTLE ANNIE (1944)

HARVEY GIRLS, THE (1946)

BAD BASCOMB (1946)

YEARLING, THE (1946)

SEA OF GRASS, THE (1947)

ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE, THE (1947)

3 GODFATHERS (1948)

BIG JACK (1949)

AMBUSH (1950)

STARS IN MY CROWN (1950)

OUTRIDERS, THE (1950)

DEVIL’S DOORWAY (1950)

VENGEANCE VALLEY (1951)

PAINTED HILLS, THE (1951)

ACROSS THE WIDE MISSOURI (1951)

WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951)

LONE STAR (1952)

WILD NORTH, THE (1952)

APACHE WAR SMOKE (1952)

NAKED SPUR, THE (1953)

ARENA (1953)

RIDE VAQUERO! (1953)

ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953)

GYPSY COLT (1954)

MANY RIVERS TO CROSS (1955)

MARAUDERS, THE (1955)

TRIBUTE TO A BAD MAN (1956)

LAST HUNT, THE (1956)

FASTEST GUN ALIVE, THE (1956)

GUN GLORY (1957)

HIRED GUN, THE (1957)

SADDLE THE WIND (1958)

SHEEPMAN, THE (1958)

LAW AND JAKE WADE, THE (1958)

BADLANDERS, THE (1958)

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COLUMBIA

ARIZONA (1940)

TEXAS (1941)

GO WEST YOUNG LADY (1941)

DESPERADOES, THE (1943)

ROCKIN’ IN THE ROCKIES (1945)

RENEGADES (1946)

GUNFIGHTERS (1947)

LAST OF THE REDMEN (1947)

LAST ROUND-UP, THE (1947)

RELENTLESS (1948)

ADVENTURE IN SILVERADO (1948)

STRAWBERRY ROAN, THE (1948)

CORONER CREEK (1948)

THUNDERHOOF (1948)

LOADED PISTOLS (1948)

UNTAMED BREED, THE (1948)

MAN FROM COLORADO, THE (1948)

BIG SOMBRERO, THE (1949)

WALKING HILLS, THE (1949)

DOOLINS OF OKLAHOMA, THE (1949)

LUST FOR GOLD (1949)

RIM OF THE CANYON (1949)

RIDERS OF THE WHISTLING PINES (1949)

RIDERS IN THE SKY (1949)

SONS OF NEW MEXICO (1949)

MULE TRAIN (1950)

COW TOWN (1950)

NEVADAN, THE (1950)

PALOMINO,THE (1950)

TEXAN MEETS CALAMITY JANE, THE (1950)

STAGE TO TUCSON (1950)

INDIAN TERRITORY (1950)

AL JENNINGSOF OKLAHOMA (1951)

GENE AUTRY AND THE MOUNTIES (1951)

SANTA FE (1951)

WHEN THE REDSKINS RODE (1951)

TEXAS RANGERS, THE (1951)

WHIRLWIND (1951)

MAN IN THE SADDLE (1951)

SILVER CANYON (1951)

HILLS OF UTAH, THE (1951)

VALLEY OF FIRE (1951)

INDIAN UPRISING (1952)

BRAVE WARRIOR (1952)

CRIPPLE CREEK (1952)

RAINBOW ‘ROUND MY SHOULDER (1952)

CALIFORNIA CONQUEST (1952)

HANGMAN’S KNOT (1952)

LAST OF THE COMANCHES (1953)

JACK MCCALL DESPERADO (1953)

FORT TI (1953)

AMBUSH AT TOMAHAWK GAP (1953)

LAST POSSE, THE (1953)

STRANGER WORE A GUN, THE (1953)

CONQUEST OF COCHISE (1953)

GUN FURY (1953)

LAW VS. BILLY THE KID, THE (1954)

BATTLE OF ROGUE RIVER, THE (1954)

BULLET IS WAITING, A (1954)

THREE HOURS TO KILL (1954)

MASTERSON OF KANSAS (1954)

THEY RODE WEST (1954)

VIOLENT MEN, THE (1955)

TEN WANTED MEN (1955)

WYOMING RENEGADES (1955)

SEMINOLE UPRISING (1955)

APACHE AMBUSH (1955)

MAN FROM LARAMIE, THE (1955)

GUN THAT WON THE WEST, THE (1955)

DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI (1955)

COUNT THREE AND PRAY (1955)

LAST FRONTIER, THE (1955)

LAWLESS STREET, A (1955)

BLACKJACK KETCHUM DESPERADO (1956)

JUBAL (1956)

SECRET OF TREASURE MOUNTAIN (1956)

WHITE SQUAW, THE (1956)

REPRISAL! (1956)

7TH CAVALRY (1956)

UTAH BLAINE (1957)

TALL T, THE (1957)

GUNS OF FORT PETTICOAT, THE (1957)

SIERRA STRANGER (1957)

3:10 TO YUMA (1957)

PARSON AND THE OUTLAW, THE (1957)

DOMINO KID (1957)

DECISION AT SUNDOWN (1957)

HARD MAN, THE (1957)

COWBOY (1958)

GUNMAN’S WALK (1958)

BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE (1958)

APACHE TERRITORY (1958)

GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING (1959)

RIDE LONESOME (1959)

FACE OF A FUGITIVE (1959)

YOUNG LAND, THE (1959)

LEGEND OF TOM DOOLEY, THE (1959)

THEY CAME TO CORDURA (1959)

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WB

GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT (1938)

DODGE CITY (1939)

OKLAHOMA KID, THE (1939)

VIRGINIA CITY (1940)

SANTA FE TRAIL (1940)

BAD MEN OF MISSOURI (1941)

THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON (1941)

WILD BILL HICKOK RIDES (1942)

SAN ANTONIO (1945)

PURSUED (1947)

CHEYENNE (1947)

SILVER RIVER (1948)

SOUTH OF ST. LOUIS (1949)

YOUNGER BROTHERS, THE (1949)

COLORADO TERRITORY (1949)

MONTANA (1950)

BARRICADE (1950)

COLT. 45 (1950)

RETURN OF THE FRONTIERSMAN (1950)

ROCKY MOUNTAIN (1950)

DALLAS (1950)

SUGARFOOT (1951)

RATON PASS (1951)

ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE (1951)

FORT WORTH (1951)

DISTANT DRUMS (1951)

BIG TREES, THE (1952)

BUGLES IN THE AFTERNOON (1952)

LION AND THE HORSE, THE (1952)

SAN FRANCISCO STORY, THE (1952)

CARSON CITY (1952)

CATTLE TOWN (1952)

SPRINGFIELD RIFLE (1952)

MAN BEHIND THE GUN, THE (1953)

CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER, THE (1953)

MOONLIGHTER, THE (1953)

THUNDER OVER THE PLAINS (1953)

HONDO (1953)

COMMAND, THE (1954)

BOY FROM OKLAHOMA, THE (1954)

RIDING SHOTGUN (1954)

BOUNTY HUNTER, THE (1954)

DRUM BEAT (1954)

TRACK OF THE CAT (1954)

STRANGE LADY IN TOWN (1955)

TALL MAN RIDING (1955)

LONE RANGER, THE (1956)

SEARCHERS, THE (1956)

SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956)

BURNING HILLS, THE (1956)

BIG LAND, THE (1957)

SHOOT-OUT AT MEDICINE BEND (1957)

BLACK PATCH (1957)

FORT DOBBS (1958)

LEFT HANDED GUN, THE (1958)

BADMAN’S COUNTRY (1958)

HANGING TREE, THE (1959)

RIO BRAVO (1959)

WESTBOUND (1959)

YELLOWSTONE KELLY (1959)

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UNITED ARTISTS

STAGECOACH (1939)

KIT CARSON (1940)

WESTERNER, THE (1940)

SILVER QUEEN (1942)

OUTLAW, THE (1943)

BUCKSKIN FRONTIER (1943)

KANSAN, THE (1943)

WOMAN OF THE TOWN, THE (1943)

ABILENE TOWN (1946)

RAMROD (1947)

FOUR FACES WEST(1948)

RED RIVER (1948)

DAVY CROCKETT INDIAN SCOUT (1950)

IROQUOIS TRAIL, THE (1950)

KANGAROO KID, THE (1950)

NEW MEXICO (1951)

FORT DEFIANCE (1951)

HIGH NOON (1952)

MARSHAL’S DAUGHTER, THE (1953)

GUN BELT (1953)

WAR PAINT (1953)

OVERLAND PACIFIC (1954)

SOUTHWEST PASSAGE (1954)

LONE GUN, THE (1954)

YELLOW TOMAHAWK, THE (1954)

APACHE (1954)

JESSE JAMES’ WOMEN (1954)

SITTING BULL(1954)

STRANGER ON HORSEBACK (1955)

CANYON CROSSROADS (1955)

ROBBERS’ ROOST (1955)

KENTUCKIAN, THE (1955)

FORT YUMA (1955)

MAN WITH THE GUN (1955)

INDIAN FIGHTER, THE (1955)

TOP GUN (1955)

GHOST TOWN (1956)

COMANCHE (1956)

BROKEN STAR, THE (1956)

QUINCANNON FRONTIER SCOUT (1956)

JOHNNY CONCHO (1956)

REBEL IN TOWN (1956)

GUN BROTHERS (1956)

BANDIDO (1956)

MAN FROM DEL RIO (1956)

GUN THE MAN DOWN (1956)

KING AND FOUR QUEENS, THE (1956)

PEACEMAKER, THE (1956)

BRASS LEGEND, THE (1956)

DRANGO (1957)

HALLIDAY BRAND, THE (1957)

TOMAHAWK TRAIL (1957)

REVOLT AT FORT LARAMIE (1957)

WAR DRUMS (1957)

IRON SHERIFF, THE (1957)

RIDE BACK, THE (1957)

FURY AT SHOWDOWN (1957)

GUN DUEL IN DURANGO (1957)

TROOPER HOOK (1957)

OUTLAW’S SON (1957)

VALERIE (1957)

GUNSIGHT RIDGE (1957)

RIDE OUT FOR REVENGE (1957)

DALTON GIRLS, THE (1957)

GUN FEVER (1958)

FORT BOWIE (1958)

TOUGHEST GUN IN TOMBSTONE (1958)

FORT MASSACRE (1958)

LONE RANGER AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, THE (1958)

TERROR IN A TEXAS TOWN (1958)

MAN OF THE WEST (1958)

THE BIG COUNTRY (1958)

ESCORT WEST (1959)

MUSTANG! (1959)

GUNFIGHT AT DODGE CITY, THE (1959)

DAY OF THE OUTLAW (1959)

CAST A LONG SHADOW (1959)

WONDERFUL COUNTRY, THE (1959)

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ALLIED ARTISTS

PANHANDLE (1948)

DUDE GOES WEST, THE (1948)

BAD MEN OF TOMBSTONE (1949)

STAMPEDE (1949)

MASSACRE RIVER (1949)

SHORT GRASS (1950)

WAGONS WEST (1952)

MAVERICK, THE (1952)

KANSAS PACIFIC (1953)

FORT VENGEANCE (1953)

COW COUNTRY (1953)

SON OF BELLE STARR (1953)

FIGHTING LAWMAN (1953)

JACK SLADE (1953)

VIGILANTE TERROR (1953)

BITTER CREEK (1954)

ARROW IN THE DUST (1954)

FORTY-NINERS, THE (1954)

DESPERADO, THE (1954)

TREASURE OF RUBY HILLS (1955)

SEVEN ANGRY MEN (1955)

SHOTGUN (1955)

WICHITA (1955)

RETURN OF JACK SLADE, THE (1955)

AT GUNPOINT (1955)

NAKED HILLS, THE (1956)

FIRST TEXAN, THE (1956)

CANYON RIVER (1956)

YOUNG GUNS, THE (1956)

YAQUI DRUMS (1956)

LAST OF THE BADMEN (1957)

BADGE OF MARSHAL BRENNAN, THE (1957)

DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE (1957)

PERSUADER, THE (1957)

GUN BATTLE AT MONTEREY (1957)

OKLAHOMAN, THE (1957)

NAKED IN THE SUN (1957)

TALL STRANGER, THE (1957)

OREGON PASSAGE (1957)

MAN FROM GOD’S COUNTRY (1958)

COLE YOUNGER GUNFIGHTER (1958)

QUANTRILL’S RAIDERS (1958)

SNOWFIRE (1958)

BULLWHIP (1958)

GUNSMOKE IN TUCSON (1958)

KING OF THE WILD STALLIONS (1959)

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PARAMOUNT

TRAIL OF THE LONESOME PINE, THE (1936)

TEXAS RANGERS, THE (1936)

PLAINSMAN, THE (1936)

WELLS FARGO (1937)

TEXANS, THE (1938)

RIDE A CROOKED MILE (1938)

UNION PACIFIC (1939)

LLANO KID, THE (1939)

KNIGHTS OF THE RANGE (1940)

RANGERS OF FORTUNE (1940)

CHEROKEE STRIP (1940)

TEXAS RANGERS RIDE AGAIN (1940)

ROUND UP, THE (1941)

PARSON OF PANAMINT, THE (1941)

GREAT MAN’S LADY, THE (1942)

TOMBSTONE THE TOWN TOO TOUGH TO DIE (1942)

VIRGINIAN, THE (1946)

CALIFORNIA (1947)

ALBUQUERQUE (1948)

WHISPERING SMITH (1948)

STREETS OF LAREDO (1949)

EL PASO (1949)

EAGLE AND THE HAWK, THE (1950)

FURIES, THE (1950)

COPPER CANYON (1950)

BRANDED (1950)

REDHEAD AND THE COWBOY, THE (1951)

LAST OUTPOST, THE (1951)

GREAT MISSOURI RAID, THE (1951)

PASSAGE WEST (1951)

WARPATH (1951)

RED MOUNTAIN (1951)

SILVER CITY (1951)

FLAMING FEATHER (1952)

DENVER AND RIO GRANDE (1952)

SAVAGE, THE (1952)

SHANE (1953)

VANQUISHED, THE (1953)

PONY EXPRESS (1953)

ARROWHEAD (1953)

THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE (1953)

RUN FOR COVER (1955)

FAR HORIZONS, THE (1955)

THREE VIOLENT PEOPLE (1957)

GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957)

TIN STAR, THE (1957)

LONELY MAN, THE (1957)

THUNDER IN THE SUN (1959)

HANGMAN, THE (1959)

LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL (1959)

JAYHAWKERS!, THE (1959)

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UNIVERSAL

SUTTER’S GOLD (1936)

DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939)

MY LITTLE CHICKADEE (1940)

WHEN THE DALTONS RODE (1940)

TRAIL OF THE VIGILANTES (1940)

LADY FROM CHEYENNE, THE (1941)

BADLANDS OF DAKOTA (1941)

MEN OF TEXAS (1942)

SPOILERS, THE (1942)

FRONTIER BADMEN (1943)

FRISCO SAL (1945)

DALTONS RIDE AGAIN, THE (1945)

FRONTIER GAL (1945)

CANYON PASSAGE (1946)

BLACK BART (1948)

RIVER LADY (1948)

RED CANYON (1949)

CALAMITY JANE AND SAM BASS (1949)

GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST, THE (1949)

KID FROM TEXAS, THE (1950)

COMANCHE TERRITORY (1950)

SIERRA (1950)

WINCHESTER ‘73 (1950)

SADDLE TRAMP (1950)

WYOMING MAIL (1950)

KANSAS RAIDERS (1950)

FRENCHIE (1950)

TOMAHAWK (1951)

APACHE DRUMS (1951)

CATTLE DRIVE (1951)

CAVE OF OUTLAWS (1951)

CIMARRON KID, THE (1952)

BEND OF THE RIVER (1952)

BATTLE AT APACHE PASS, THE (1952)

UNTAMED FRONTIER (1952)

DUEL AT SILVER CREEK, THE (1952)

HORIZONS WEST (1952)

RAIDERS, THE (1952)

LAWLESS BREED, THE (1953)

REDHEAD FROM WYOMING, THE (1953)

MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER, THE (1953)

SEMINOLE (1953)

GUNSMOKE (1953)

LAW AND ORDER (1953)

COLUMN SOUTH (1953)

LONE HAND, THE (1953)

GREAT SIOUX UPRISING, THE (1953)

MAN FROM THE ALAMO, THE (1953)

WINGS OF THE HAWK (1953)

STAND AT APACHE RIVER, THE (1953)

TUMBLEWEED (1953)

WAR ARROW (1954)

BORDER RIVER (1954)

RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO (1954)

TAZA SON OF COCHISE (1954)

SASKATCHEWAN (1954)

RAILS INTO LARAMIE (1954)

BLACK HORSE CANYON (1954)

DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER (1954)

DAWN AT SOCORRO (1954)

FOUR GUNS TO THE BORDER (1954)

YELLOW MOUNTAIN, THE (1954)

DESTRY (1954)

FAR COUNTRY, THE (1955)

MAN WITHOUT A STAR (1955)

SMOKE SIGNAL (1955)

MAN FROM BITTER RIDGE, THE (1955)

CHIEF CRAZY HORSE (1955)

NAKED DAWN, THE (1955)

SPOILERS, THE (1955)

RAW EDGE (1956)

RED SUNDOWN (1956)

BACKLASH (1956)

DAY OF FURY, A (1956)

STAR IN THE DUST (1956)

RAWHIDE YEARS, THE (1956)

WALK THE PROUD LAND (1956)

PILLARS OF THE SKY (1956)

SHOWDOWN AT ABILENE (1956)

GUN FOR A COWARD (1957)

NIGHT PASSAGE (1957)

QUANTEZ (1957)

JOE DAKOTA (1957)

DAY OF THE BADMAN (1958)

LAST OF THE FAST GUNS, THE (1958)

WILD HERITAGE (1958)

SAGA OF HEMP BROWN, THE (1958)

MONEY WOMEN AND GUNS (1958)

RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL (1958)

NO NAME ON THE BULLET (1959)

WILD AND THE INNOCENT, THE (1959)

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20TH CENTURY FOX

JESSE JAMES (1939)

FRONTIER MARSHAL (1939)

SUSANNAH OF THE MOUNTIES (1939)

RETURN OF THE CISCO KID, THE (1939)

RETURN OF FRANK JAMES (1940)

WESTERN UNION (1941)

BELLE STARR (1941)

OX-BOW INCIDENT, THE (1943)

BUFFALO BILL (1944)

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)

FURY AT FURNACE CREEK (1948)

YELLOW SKY (1948)

BELLE STARR’S DAUGHTER (1948)

CANADIAN PACIFIC (1949)

FIGHTING MAN OF THE PLAINS (1949)

DAKOTA LIL (1950)

TICKET TO TOMAHAWK, A (1950)

GUNFIGHTER, THE (1950)

CARIBOO TRAIL, THE (1950)

BROKEN ARROW (1950)

TWO FLAGS WEST (1950)

RAWHIDE (1951)

SECRET OF CONVICT LAKE, THE (1951)

ROSE OF CIMARRON (1952)

OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT, THE (1952)

WAY OF A GAUCHO (1952)

PONY SOLDIER (1952)

SILVER WHIP, THE (1953)

POWDER RIVER (1953)

CITY OF BAD MEN (1953)

THREE YOUNG TEXANS (1954)

RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954)

SIEGE AT RED RIVER (1954)

GARDEN OF EVIL (1954)

RAID, THE (1954)

GAMBLER FROM NATCHEZ, THE (1954)

BROKEN LANCE (1954)

OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER, THE (1954

WHITE FEATHER (1955)

TALL MEN, THE (1955)

MOHAWK (1956)

PROUD ONES, THE (1956)

MASSACRE (1956)

LAST WAGON, THE (1956)

DESPERADOS ARE IN TOWN, THE (1956)

LOVE ME TENDER (1956)

BLACK WHIP, THE (1956)

STAGECOACH TO FURY (1956)

QUIET GUN, THE (1957)

STORM RIDER, THE (1957)

TRUE STORY OF JESSE JAMES, THE (1957)

RESTLESS BREED, THE (1957)

BADLANDS OF MONTANA (1957)

APACHE WARRIOR (1957)

FORTY GUNS (1957)

COPPER SKY (1957)

RIDE A VIOLENT MILE (1957)

ESCAPE FROM RED ROCK (1957)

AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS (1958)

BLOOD ARROW (1958)

SHOWDOWN AT BOOT HILL (1958)

FROM HELL TO TEXAS (1958)

BRAVADOS, THE (1958)

SIERRA BARON (1958)

FIEND WHO WALKED THE WEST, THE (1958)

FLAMING FRONTIER (1958)

VILLA!! (1958)

FRONTIER GUN (1958)

LONE TEXAN (1959)

WARLOCK (1959)

THESE THOUSAND HILLS (1959)

MIRACLE OF THE HILLS, THE (1959)

OREGON TRAIL, THE (1959)

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EAGLE-LION

MAN FROM TEXAS, THE (1948)

SUNDOWNERS, THE (1950)

HIGH LONESOME (1950)

MY OUTLAW BROTHER (1951)

ROGUE RIVER (1951)

CATTLE QUEEN (1951)

SCREEN GUILD/LIPPERT

ROLLING HOME (1946)

BELLS OF SAN FERNANDO (1947)

LAST OF THE WILD HORSES (1948)

OUTLAW COUNTRY (1949)

I SHOT JESSE JAMES (1949)

BARON OF ARIZONA, THE (1950)

RETURN OF JESSE JAMES, THE (1950)

BANDIT QUEEN, THE (1950)

THREE DESPERATE MEN (1951)

LITTLE BIG HORN (1951)

STRONGHOLD (1952)

OUTLAW WOMEN (1952)

HELLGATE (1952)

TALL TEXAN, THE (1952)

GREAT JESSE JAMES RAID, THE (1953)

THUNDER PASS (1954)

TWO-GUN LADY (1955)

SILVER STAR, THE (1955)

LONESOME TRAIL, THE (1955)

WALT DISNEY

WESTWARD HO THE WAGONS! (1956)

AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES

FIVE GUNS WEST (1955)

OKLAHOMA WOMAN, THE (1956)

GUNSLINGER (1956)

FLESH AND THE SPUR (1956)

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REPUBLIC

LADY FROM LOUISIANA (1941)

IN OLD CALIFORNIA (1942)

IN OLD OKLAHOMA (1943)

BIG BONANZA, THE (1944)

DAKOTA (1945)

PLAINSMAN AND THE LADY (1946)

PLUNDERERS, THE (1946)

WYOMING (1947)

FABULOUS TEXAN, THE (1947)

ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947)

GALLANT LEGION, THE (1948)

OLD LOS ANGELES (1948)

HELLFIRE (1949)

BRIMSTONE (1949)

LAST BANDIT, THE (1949)

FIGHTING KENTUCKIAN, THE (1949)

SURRENDER (1950)

CALIFORNIA PASSAGE (1950)

SAVAGE HORDE, THE (1950)

SHOWDOWN, THE (1950)

ROCK ISLAND TRAIL (1950)

RIO GRANDE (1950)

SINGING GUNS (1950)

BELLE LE GRAND (1951)

OH! SUSANNA (1951)

RIDE THE MAN DOWN (1952)

TOUGHEST MAN IN ARIZONA (1952)

SAN ANTONE (1953)

WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED (1953)

JUBILEE TRAIL (1954)

OUTCAST, THE (1954)

JOHNNY GUITAR (1954)

MAN ALONE, A (1955)

ROAD TO DENVER, THE (1955)

SANTA FE PASSAGE (1955)

VANISHING AMERICAN, THE (1955)

LAST COMMAND, THE (1955)

TIMBERJACK (1955)

TWINKLE IN GOD’S EYE, THE (1955)

STRANGER AT MY DOOR (1956)

MAVERICK QUEEN, THE (1956)

DANIEL BOONE TRAIL BLAZER (1956)

THUNDER OVER ARIZONA (1956)

DAKOTA INCIDENT (1956)

HELL CANYON OUTLAWS (1957)

LAWLESS EIGHTIES, THE (1957)

GUNFIRE AT INDIAN GAP (1957)

RAIDERS OF OLD CALIFORNIA (1957)

PAWNEE (1957)

DUEL AT APACHE WELLS (1957)

MAN OR GUN (1958)

PLUNDERERS OF PAINTED FLATS (1959)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pretty much in agreement with your assessment TopBilled. 

From the 1600s to 1836 I call the films set on the frontier simply Frontier Epics.

For Westerns, I go from the introduction  of the six shooter as one bracket . ( In 1836, American Samuel Colt patented a popular revolver which led to the widespread use of the revolver.) to depending on where the action is set geographically. For most of the American West this stretches to the turn of the century.  The last train robbery by members of the Wild Bunch was in 1903 near Parachute, Colorado. For Alaska and Canada "North" Westerns it will stretch further into the 1900s. The Far Country took place in the Klondike which stretched from 1896 to 1899. North to Alaska was about the Nome Gold Rush 1899–1909. For me the last "North" Western would be the one they made about Mad Trapper of Rat River Albert Johnson called Death Hunt.

South of the Border, I'd include everything revolving around the Mexican Revolution and a bit beyond, ( the Italians called them Zapata Westerns) for me The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is basically a Western once they leave Tampico while the Tampico sequence is quite Film Noirish.

 

 

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9 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Pretty much in agreement with your assessment TopBilled. 

From the 1600s to 1836 I call the films set on the frontier simply Frontier Epics.

For Westerns, I go from the introduction  of the six shooter as one bracket . ( In 1836, American Samuel Colt patented a popular revolver which led to the widespread use of the revolver.) to depending on where the action is set geographically. For most of the American West this stretches to the turn of the century.  The last train robbery by members of the Wild Bunch was in 1903 near Parachute, Colorado. For Alaska and Canada "North" Westerns it will stretch further into the 1900s. The Far Country took place in the Klondike which stretched from 1896 to 1899. North to Alaska was about the Nome Gold Rush 1899–1909. For me the last "North" Western would be the one they made about Mad Trapper of Rat River Albert Johnson called Death Hunt.

South of the Border, I'd include everything revolving  the Mexican Revolution and a bit beyond, ( the Italians called them Zapata Westerns) for me The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is basically a Western once they leave Tampico while the Tampico sequence is uite Film Noirish.

Thanks joe for chiming in. Great comment.

I tend to think of the northern westerns as a sub-genre. Like they are a 'cousin' of the more traditional westerns.

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I think Western comedies like Paleface should count, simply because all the elements are there, but there's just a difference emphasis in how the story is told.

As for being exclusively about the American frontier, you already have Canadian Pacific and Saskatewan on the list, so even you think they're not just about the United States of America.  If we're including the Canadian frontier, then films like North West Mounted Police should probably count, since the whole reason the Mounties were formed was to establish order and sovreignty over the Canadian prairies.

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11 hours ago, rjbartrop said:

I think Western comedies like Paleface should count, simply because all the elements are there, but there's just a difference emphasis in how the story is told.

Have you see the Gary Cooper film Along Came Jones this is a western comedy and it has all the element of a classic western but done with a wink.

Dan Duryea plays the heavy (the only one to play it 100% straight).

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12 hours ago, rjbartrop said:

I think Western comedies like Paleface should count, simply because all the elements are there, but there's just a difference emphasis in how the story is told.

Of course they count  There are also Western Musicals, The Harvey Girls, Paint Your Wagon, Cat Balou the latter two are also a Western Comedies. The Hallelujah Trail is another Western Comedy, you even got Spaghetti Western Comedies. 

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While western comedies and western musicals (RED GARTERS is another one) have elements of the old west, I don't consider them to be pure specimens. The problem for me is that the comedy (the laughs) and the music (the singing and dancing) takes priority over the western themes which are just there to hold the thing together and provide some basic plot structure with archetypical characters. 

As for the stories about the Canadian frontier and the Alaskan frontier, I think I was being generous by including SASKATCHEWAN and CANADIAN PACIFIC in my lists. Another film like THOSE REDHEADS FROM SEATTLE was debatable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Those_Redheads_from_Seattle

I am grateful for the replies. Obviously I am not trying to be authoritative here but my quest is in determining what is a pure American western.

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15 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

I don't consider them to be pure specimens. The problem for me is that the comedy (the laughs) and the music (the singing and dancing) takes priority over the western themes which are just there to hold the thing together and provide some basic plot structure with archetypical characters. 

So you are not counting the Republic John Wayne - Sons of the Pioneers films, just straight forward Westerns?

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