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Cowboys As Cold Warriors

Cowboys As Cold Warriors: The Western And U S History

Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Cowboys As Cold Warriors
    Book Description:

    Though the United States emerged from World War II with superpower status and quickly entered a period of economic prosperity, the stresses and contradictions of the Cold War nevertheless cast a shadow over American life. The same period marked the heyday of the western film.Cowboys as Cold Warriorsshows that this was no coincidence. It examines many of the significant westerns released between 1946 and 1962, analyzing how they responded to and influenced the cultural climate of the country. Author Stanley Corkin discusses a dozen films in detail, connecting them to each other and to numerous others. He considers how these cultural productions both embellished the myth of the American frontier and reflected the era in which they were made.Films discussed include: My Darling Clementine, Red River, Duel in the Sun, Pursued, Fort Apache, Broken Arrow, The Gunfighter, High Noon, Shane, The Searchers, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Magnificent Seven, The Alamo, Lonely Are the Brave, Ride the High Country, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0568-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-18)

    In this study of Hollywood Westerns released between 1946 and 1962, I consider closely some sixteen films and make mention of numerous others. Neither the dates nor my choice of films is arbitrary. Historically, this chronology takes us from the end of World War II and the beginnings of what historian Thomas McCormick has called America’s half-century to the eve of the war in Vietnam.¹ The films are largely those that were popular with audiences and critics and highly influential in the genre. In U.S. film his—large-budget features—burgeoned as at no other time. When, for example, in the...

    (pp. 19-50)

    My Darling Clementine(1946) andRed River(1948), in their particular ways, recount the triumph of quintessentially “American” heroes over various agents of chaos. Arguably, this tale is at the heart of a number of post–World War II Westerns, fromFort Apache(1948) andWinchester 73(1950) toShane(1953) and3:10 to Yuma(1957), to name a few and define a chronology.¹ AlthoughMy Darling ClementineandRed Riverare certainly notable in their coherence, nuance, and overall attention to craft, they are at the same time thematically typical of post–World War II Westerns. Because of the...

  6. TWO MELODRAMA AND THE FEMININE MEANS TO EMPIRE: Duel in the Sun, Pursued, and Fort Apache
    (pp. 51-93)

    As Westerns burgeoned in the late forties and fifties to become, in both number and the significance of individual productions, one of the major genres of film produced in Hollywood, they performed vital cultural work. Chapter One showed how some films within this genre produced and reproduced historically resonant images of territorial expansion. These images commented on and, I believe, helped to develop a national consensus that assisted many viewers conceive of the rise of U.S. hegemony in the post–World War II era as natural and desirable. Although such ideological constructions that further the cause of U.S. expansion are...

  7. THREE COLD WAR WESTERNS AND THE LAW OF THE GUN: Broken Arrow and The Gunfighter
    (pp. 94-126)

    SinceThe Great Train Robbery(1903), heroes in film Westerns have been willing to kill, and quite capable of killing, their enemies. In his study of the genre after 1939, Michael Coyne notes, “The revisionism of the 1960s and 1970s notwithstanding, the Western’s overall thrust … posited violence as the main solution to personal and societal problems” (1997, 3). In the early fifties a trend emerges that shifts the emphasis of the genre. A group of films, many of them notable for their commercial or critical success, dwell explicitly onwhetherviolence is an appropriate means of resolving the various...

  8. FOUR KOREA, CONTAINMENT, AND NATIONALISM: High Noon, Shane, and The Searchers
    (pp. 127-163)

    If the postwar period was the gold en age of Westerns, the period from 1952 thro ugh 1956 was the golden age of the golden age. During this time, the genre not only continued to be a frequent type of Hollywood production, but also became among the most honored and profitable of all film forms.¹ In this chapter I discuss some of the most prominent and influential Westerns of this period—High Noon(1952),Shane(1953), andThe Searchers(1956)—and examine the ways these films help to define the core years of the Cold War. Between 1952 and 1956,...

  9. FIVE MODERNIZATION THEORY, POLITICAL DISCORD, AND INTERVENTION: Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Magnificent Seven, and The Alamo
    (pp. 164-204)

    Certainly by the end of the Korean War, the U.S. posture in the world had changed. Eisenhower now maintained a greater caution regarding the prospect of military intervention. Korea had been an example of the limits of actual military engagement within the context of the Cold War. That is, after the cessation of over three years of fighting, the resolution of the conflict simply reaffirmed the borders that had existed prior to the conflict. Such a result had a paradoxical effect. It created a desire for a kind of geopolitical stasis: the sacrifice of lives and the incurring of inordinate...

  10. SIX IMPERIALIST NOSTALGIA AND THE ROAD TO VIETNAM: Lonely Are the Brave, Ride the High Country, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    (pp. 205-248)

    The films considered in Chapter Five may be employed to tell a story of the increasing U.S. disposition to alter the balance of power in the world, which already tilted significantly toward its interests. They may also be used to tell of an increasing anxiety regarding the position of the nation. Indeed, as narratives that express the necessity of further direct intervention in the affairs of contiguous populations,The Alamo, The Magnificent Seven,and, to a lesser degree,Gunfight at the OK Corralindicate a sense of duress and a nation increasingly threatened from without. While the McCarthy period to...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 249-256)
    (pp. 257-266)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 267-274)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-275)