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Western (genre)

Western is a genre of various arts which tell stories set primarily in


the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, often
centering on the life of a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter[1] armed with a
revolver and a rifle who rides a horse. Cowboys and gunslingers
typically wear Stetson hats, neckerchief bandannas, vests, spurs,
cowboy boots and buckskins (alternatively dusters). Recurring
characters include the aforementioned cowboys, Native Americans,
bandits, lawmen, bounty hunters, outlaws, gamblers, soldiers
(especially mounted cavalry, such as buffalo soldiers), and settlers
(farmers, ranchers, and townsfolk). The ambience is usually punctuated
with a Western music score, including American and Mexican folk Justus D. Barnes in Western apparel,
music such as country, Native American music, New Mexico music, and as "Bronco Billy Anderson", from the
rancheras. silent film The Great Train Robbery
(1903), the first Western film
Westerns often stress the harshness of the wilderness and frequently
set the action in an arid, desolate landscape of deserts and mountains.
Often, the vast landscape plays an important role, presenting a "...mythic vision of the plains and deserts of the
American West".[2] Specific settings include ranches, small frontier towns, saloons, railways, wilderness, and isolated
military forts of the Wild West.

Common plots include:

The construction of a railroad or a telegraph line on the wild frontier.


Ranchers protecting their family ranch from rustlers or large landowners or who build a ranch empire.
Revenge stories, which hinge on the chase and pursuit by someone who has been wronged.
Stories about cavalry fighting Native Americans.
Outlaw gang plots.
Stories about a lawman or bounty hunter tracking down his quarry.
Many Westerns use a stock plot of depicting a crime, then showing the pursuit of the wrongdoer, ending in revenge
and retribution, which is often dispensed through a shootout or quick-draw duel.[3][4][5]

The Western was the most popular Hollywood genre from the early 20th century to the 1960s.[6] Western films first
became well-attended in the 1930s. John Ford's landmark Western adventure Stagecoach became one of the biggest
hits in 1939 and it made John Wayne a mainstream screen star. The popularity of Westerns continued in the 1940s,
with the release of classics such as Red River (1948). Westerns were very popular throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Many of the most acclaimed Westerns were released during this time, including High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), The
Searchers (1956), Cat Ballou (1965), The Wild Bunch (1969) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Classic
Westerns such as these have been the inspiration for various films about Western-type characters in contemporary
settings, such as Junior Bonner (1972), set in the 1970s, and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), set in
the 21st century.

Contents
Themes
Film
Characteristics
Subgenres
Classical Western
Acid Western
Charro, Cabrito or Chili Westerns
Comedy Western
Contemporary Western
Electric Western
Epic Western
Euro-Western
Fantasy Western
Florida Western
Horror Western The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Curry Westerns and Indo Westerns
Martial arts Western (Wuxia Western)
Meat pie Western
Northwestern
Ostern
Pornographic Western
Revisionist Western
Science fiction Western
Space Western
Spaghetti Western
Weird Western
Genre studies
Influences
Literature
Television
Visual art
Other media
Anime and manga
Comics
Games
Radio dramas
Web series
See also
References
Further reading
External links

Themes
The Western genre sometimes portrays the conquest of the wilderness and the subordination of nature in the name of
civilization or the confiscation of the territorial rights of the original, Native American, inhabitants of the frontier.[1]
The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor and personal, direct or private justice–"frontier
justice"–dispensed by gunfights. These honor codes are often played out through depictions of feuds or individuals
seeking personal revenge or retribution against someone who has wronged them (e.g., True Grit has revenge and
retribution as its main themes). This Western depiction of personal justice contrasts sharply with justice systems
organized around rationalistic, abstract law that exist in cities, in which social order is maintained predominately
through relatively impersonal institutions such as courtrooms. The popular perception of the Western is a story that
centers on the life of a semi-nomadic wanderer, usually a cowboy or a gunfighter.[1] A showdown or duel at high noon
featuring two or more gunfighters is a stereotypical scene in the popular conception of Westerns.
In some ways, such protagonists may be considered the literary descendants of
the knight errant which stood at the center of earlier extensive genres such as
the Arthurian Romances.[1] Like the cowboy or gunfighter of the Western, the
knight errant of the earlier European tales and poetry was wandering from
place to place on his horse, fighting villains of various kinds and bound to no
fixed social structures but only to their own innate code of honor. And like
knights errant, the heroes of Westerns frequently rescue damsels in distress.
Similarly, the wandering protagonists of Westerns share many characteristics
with the ronin in modern Japanese culture.

The Western typically takes these elements and uses them to tell simple
morality tales, although some notable examples (e.g. the later Westerns of
John Ford or Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, about an old hired killer) are more
morally ambiguous. Westerns often stress the harshness and isolation of the The Lone Ranger; a famous
wilderness and frequently set the action in an arid, desolate landscape. heroic lawman who was with a
cavalry of six Texas Rangers,
Western films generally have specific settings such as isolated ranches, Native
until they were all killed but him.
American villages, or small frontier towns with a saloon. Oftentimes, these
He preferred to remain
settings appear deserted and without much structure. Apart from the anonymous, so he resigned and
wilderness, it is usually the saloon that emphasizes that this is the Wild West: built a sixth grave that
it is the place to go for music (raucous piano playing), women (often supposedly held his body. He
prostitutes), gambling (draw poker or five card stud), drinking (beer or fights on as a lawman, wearing a
mask, for, "Outlaws live in a
whiskey), brawling and shooting. In some Westerns, where civilization has
world of fear. Fear of the
arrived, the town has a church, a general store, a bank and a school; in others,
mysterious."
where frontier rules still hold sway, it is, as Sergio Leone said, "where life has
no value".

Film

Characteristics
The American Film Institute defines Western films as those "set in the
American West that [embody] the spirit, the struggle and the demise of the
new frontier."[7] The term Western, used to describe a narrative film genre,
appears to have originated with a July 1912 article in Motion Picture World
magazine.[8] Most of the characteristics of Western films were part of 19th-
century popular Western fiction and were firmly in place before film
became a popular art form.[9] Western films commonly feature
protagonists such as cowboys, gunslingers, and bounty hunters, who are
often depicted as semi-nomadic wanderers who wear Stetson hats, Gary Cooper in Vera Cruz
bandannas, spurs, and buckskins, use revolvers or rifles as everyday tools
of survival–and as a means to settle disputes using "frontier justice".
Protagonists ride between dusty towns and cattle ranches on their trusty steeds.

Western films were enormously popular in the silent film era (1894-1927). With the advent of sound in 1927-28, the
major Hollywood studios rapidly abandoned Westerns,[10] leaving the genre to smaller studios and producers. These
smaller organizations churned out countless low-budget features and serials in the 1930s. By the late 1930s, the
Western film was widely regarded as a "pulp" genre in Hollywood, but its popularity was dramatically revived in 1939
by major studio productions such as Dodge City starring Errol Flynn, Jesse James with Tyrone Power, Union Pacific
with Joel McCrea, Destry Rides Again featuring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, and the release of John Ford's
landmark Western adventure Stagecoach, which became one of the biggest hits of the year. Released through United
Artists, Stagecoach made John Wayne a mainstream screen star in the wake of a decade of headlining B westerns.
Wayne had been introduced to the screen ten years earlier as the leading man in director Raoul Walsh's widescreen
The Big Trail, which failed at the box office, due in part to exhibitors' inability to switch over to widescreen during the
Depression. After the Western's renewed commercial successes in the late 1930s, the popularity of the Western
continued to rise until its peak in the 1950s, when the number of Western films produced outnumbered all other
genres combined.[11]

Western films often depict conflicts with Native Americans. While early Eurocentric Westerns frequently portray the
"Injuns" as dishonorable villains, the later and more culturally neutral Westerns gave Native Americans a more
sympathetic treatment. Other recurring themes of Westerns include Western treks (e.g. The Big Trail) or perilous
journeys (e.g. Stagecoach) or groups of bandits terrorising small towns such as in The Magnificent Seven. Or
revisionist westerns like I Walk the Line (1970) depict sheriffs dueling.

Early Westerns were mostly filmed in the studio, just like other early
Hollywood films, but when location shooting became more common
from the 1930s, producers of Westerns used desolate corners of
Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New
Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming. These settings gave
filmmakers the ability to depict vast plains, looming mountains and
epic canyons. Productions were also filmed on location at movie
ranches.

Western set at Universal Studios in Often, the vast landscape becomes more than a vivid backdrop; it
Hollywood becomes a character in the film. After the early 1950s, various wide
screen formats such as Cinemascope (1953) and VistaVision used the
expanded width of the screen to display spectacular Western
landscapes. John Ford's use of Monument Valley as an expressive landscape in his films from Stagecoach (1939) to
Cheyenne Autumn (1965) "present us with a mythic vision of the plains and deserts of the American West, embodied
most memorably in Monument Valley, with its buttes and mesas that tower above the men on horseback, whether they
be settlers, soldiers, or Native Americans".[2]

Subgenres
Author and screenwriter Frank Gruber described seven plots for
Westerns:[12][13]

1. Union Pacific story. The plot concerns construction of a railroad, a


telegraph line, or some other type of modern technology or
transportation. Wagon train stories fall into this category.
2. Ranch story. The plot concerns threats to the ranch from rustlers or
large landowners attempting to force out the proper owners.
3. Empire story. The plot involves building a ranch empire or an oil
empire from scratch, a classic rags-to-riches plot.
4. Revenge story. The plot often involves an elaborate chase and pursuit
by a wronged individual, but it may also include elements of the Dan Duryea in Along Came Jones
classic mystery story. (1945)
5. Cavalry and Indian story. The plot revolves around "taming" the
wilderness for white settlers.
6. Outlaw story. The outlaw gangs dominate the action.
7. Marshal story. The lawman and his challenges drive the plot.
Gruber said that good writers used dialogue and plot development to develop these basic plots into believable
stories.[13] Other subgenres include:

The Spaghetti Western.


The epic western
singing cowboy westerns
a few comedy westerns such as:

Along Came Jones (1945), in which Gary Cooper spoofed his western persona
The Sheepman (1958), with Glenn Ford poking fun at himself
Cat Ballou (1965), with a drunk Lee Marvin atop a drunk horse.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Western was reinvented with the revisionist Western.[14]

Classical Western
The Great Train Robbery (1903), Edwin S. Porter's film starring Broncho
Billy Anderson, is often cited as the first Western, though George N. Fenin
and William K. Everson point out that the "Edison company had played
with Western material for several years prior to The Great Train Robbery.
" Nonetheless, they concur that Porter's film "set the pattern—of crime,
pursuit, and retribution—for the Western film as a genre."[15] The film's
popularity opened the door for Anderson to become the screen's first
cowboy star; he made several hundred Western film shorts. So popular was
the genre that he soon faced competition from Tom Mix and William S.
John Wayne in The Comancheros
Hart. (1961)

The Golden Age of the Western is epitomized by the work of several


directors, most prominent among them, John Ford (My Darling Clementine, The Horse Soldiers, The Searchers).
Others include: Howard Hawks (Red River, Rio Bravo), Anthony Mann (Man of the West, The Man from Laramie),
Budd Boetticher (Seven Men from Now), Delmer Daves (The Hanging Tree, 3:10 to Yuma), John Sturges (The
Magnificent Seven, Last Train from Gun Hill), and Robert Aldrich (Vera Cruz, Ulzana's Raid).[16]

Acid Western
Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum refers to a makeshift 1960s and 1970s genre called the Acid Western,[17] associated
with Dennis Hopper, Jim McBride, and Rudy Wurlitzer, as well as films like Monte Hellman's The Shooting (1966),
Alejandro Jodorowsky's bizarre experimental film El Topo (The Mole) (1970),[17] and Robert Downey Sr.'s Greaser's
Palace (1972).[17] The 1970 film El Topo is an allegorical cult Western and underground film about the eponymous
character, a violent black-clad gunfighter, and his quest for enlightenment. The film is filled with bizarre characters
and occurrences, use of maimed and dwarf performers, and heavy doses of Christian symbolism and Eastern
philosophy. Some Spaghetti Westerns also crossed over into the Acid Western genre, such as Enzo G. Castellari's
mystical Keoma (1976), a Western reworking of Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957).

More recent Acid Westerns include Alex Cox's film Walker (1987) and Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man (1995).
Rosenbaum describes the Acid Western as "formulating a chilling, savage frontier poetry to justify its hallucinated
agenda"; ultimately, he says, the Acid Western expresses a counterculture sensibility to critique and replace capitalism
with alternative forms of exchange.[18]

Charro, Cabrito or Chili Westerns


Charro Westerns, often featuring musical stars as well as action, have been a standard feature of Mexican cinema since
the 1930s. In the 1930s and 1940s, these were typically films about horsemen in rural Mexican society, displaying a set
of cultural concerns very different from the Hollywood meta-narrative, but the overlap between 'charro' movies and
westerns became more apparent in the 1950s and 1960s.[19][20]

Comedy Western
This subgenre is imitative in style in order to mock, comment on, or trivialize the Western genre's established traits,
subjects, auteurs' styles, or some other target by means of humorous, satiric, or ironic imitation or parody. A prime
example of Comedy Western includes The Paleface (1948), which makes a satirical effort to "send-up Owen Wister's
novel The Virginian and all the cliches of the Western from the fearless hero to the final shootout on main street. The
result was The Paleface (1948) which features a cowardly hero known as "Painless" Peter Potter (Bob Hope), an inept
dentist who often entertains the notion that he's a crack sharpshooter and accomplished Indian fighter".[21]

Contemporary Western
Also known as Neo-Westerns, these films have contemporary U.S. settings, and they utilize Old West themes and
motifs (a rebellious anti-hero, open plains and desert landscapes, and gunfights). For the most part, they still take
place in the American West and reveal the progression of the Old West mentality into the late 20th and early 21st
centuries. This subgenre often features Old West-type characters struggling with displacement in a "civilized" world
that rejects their outdated brand of justice.

Examples include Nicholas Ray's The Lusty Men (1952); John Sturges's Bad Day at Black Rock (1955); Lonely Are the
Brave, screenplay by Dalton Trumbo (1962), Hud, starring Paul Newman (1963); The Getaway (1972); Junior Bonner
(1972); Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974); Hearts of the West starring Jeff Bridges (1975); Alan J. Pakula's
Comes a Horseman (1978); J. W. Coop, directed/co-written by and starring Cliff Robertson; Robert Rodríguez's El
Mariachi (1992) and Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003); John Sayles's Lone Star (1996); Tommy Lee Jones's The
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005); Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005); Wim Wenders's Don't Come
Knocking (2005); Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country for Old Men (2007); the television shows Justified (2010–2015)
and Longmire (2012-2017); Hell or High Water (2016) and Wind River (2017), both written by Taylor Sheridan; and
the superhero film Logan (2017). Call of Juarez: The Cartel is an example of a Neo-Western video game. Likewise, the
television series Breaking Bad, which takes place in modern times, features many examples of Western archetypes.
According to creator Vince Gilligan, "After the first Breaking Bad episode, it started to dawn on me that we could be
making a contemporary western. So you see scenes that are like gunfighters squaring off, like Clint Eastwood and Lee
Van Cleef—we have Walt and others like that."[22]

The precursor to these was the radio series Tales of the Texas Rangers (1950–1952), with Joel McCrea, a
contemporary detective drama set in Texas, featuring many of the characteristics of traditional Westerns.

Electric Western
The 1971 film Zachariah starring John Rubinstein, Don Johnson and Pat Quinn was billed as the "first electric
Western."[23] The film featured multiple performing rock bands in an otherwise American West setting.[23]

Zachariah featured appearances and music supplied by rock groups from the 1970s, including the James Gang[23] and
Country Joe and the Fish as "The Cracker Band."[23] Fiddler Doug Kershaw had a musical cameo[23] as does Elvin
Jones as a gunslinging drummer named Job Cain.[23]

The independent film Hate Horses starring Dominique Swain, Ron Thompson and Paul Dooley billed itself as the
"second electric Western."[24]

Epic Western
The epic western is a subgenre of the western that emphasizes the story of the American Old West on a grand scale.
Many epic westerns are commonly set during a turbulent time, especially a war, as in Sergio Leone's The Good, the
Bad and the Ugly (1966), set during the American Civil War, or Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969), set during
the Mexican Revolution. One of the grandest films in this genre is Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968),
which shows many operatic conflicts centered on control of a town while utilizing wide scale shots on Monument
Valley locations against a broad running time. Other notable examples include The Iron Horse (1924), Duel in the Sun
(1946), The Searchers (1956), Giant (1956), The Big Country (1958), Cimarron (1960), How the West Was Won
(1962), Duck, You Sucker! (1971), Heaven's Gate (1980), Dances with Wolves (1990), The Assassination of Jesse
James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Django Unchained (2012) and The Revenant (2015).

Euro-Western
Euro Westerns are Western genre films made in Western Europe. The term can sometimes, but not necessarily,
include the Spaghetti Western subgenre (see below). One example of a Euro Western is the Anglo-Spanish film The
Savage Guns (1961). Several Euro-Western films, nicknamed Sauerkraut Westerns[25] because they were made in
Germany and shot in Yugoslavia, were derived from stories by novelist Karl May and were film adaptations of May's
work. In the 2010s some new euro-westerns emerged like Kristian Levring's The Salvation, Martin Koolhoven's
Brimstone and Andreas Prochaska's The Dark Valley.

Fantasy Western
Fantasy Westerns mixed in fantasy settings and themes, and may include fantasy mythology as background. Some
famous examples are Stephen King's The Stand and The Dark Tower series of novels, the Vertigo comics series
Preacher, and Keiichi Sigsawa's light novel series, Kino's Journey, illustrated by Kouhaku Kuroboshi.

Florida Western
Florida Westerns, also known as Cracker Westerns, are set in Florida during the Second Seminole War. An example is
Distant Drums (1951) starring Gary Cooper.

Horror Western
A developing subgenre, with roots in films such as Curse of the Undead (1959) and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966),
which depicts the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid fighting against the notorious vampire. Another example is The Ghoul
Goes West, an unproduced Ed Wood film to star Bela Lugosi as Dracula in the Old West. Recent examples include the
films Near Dark (1987) directed by Kathryn Bigelow which tells the story about a human falling in love with a
vampire, From Dusk till Dawn (1996) by Robert Rodriguez deals with outlaws battling vampires across the border,
Vampires (1998) by John Carpenter tells about a group of vampires and vampire hunters looking for an ancient relic
in the west, Ravenous (1999), which deals with cannibalism at a remote US army outpost; The Burrowers (2008),
about a band of trackers who are stalked by the titular creatures; and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012).
Undead Nightmare (2010), an expansion to Red Dead Redemption (2010) is an example of a video game in this genre,
telling the tale of a zombie outbreak in the Old West. Bone Tomahawk (2016) one of the most recent entries in the
genre received wide critical acclaim for its chilling tale of cannibalism but, like many other movies in the genre, it
wasn't a commercial success.

Curry Westerns and Indo Westerns


The first Western films made in India - Mosagaalaku Mosagaadu (1970), made in Telugu, Mappusakshi
(Malayalam), Ganga (1972), and Jakkamma (Tamil) - were based on Classic Westerns. Thazhvaram (1990), the
Malayalam film directed by Bharathan and written by noted writer M. T. Vasudevan Nair, is perhaps the most
resemblant of the Spaghetti Westerns in terms of production and cinematic techniques. Earlier Spaghetti Westerns
laid the groundwork for such films as Adima Changala (1971) starring Prem Nazir, a hugely popular "zapata Spaghetti
Western film in Malayalam, and Sholay (1975) Khote Sikkay (1973) and Thai Meethu Sathiyam (1978) are notable
Curry Westerns. Kodama Simham (1990), a Telugu action film starring Chiranjeevi and Mohan Babu was one more
addition to the Indo Western genre and fared well at the box office. It was also the first South Indian movie to be
dubbed in English as Hunters of the Indian Treasure[26]
Takkari Donga (2002), starring Telugu Maheshbabu, was applauded by critics but an average runner at box office.
Quick Gun Murugun (2009), an Indian comedy film which spoofs Indian Western movies, is based on a character
created for television promos at the time of the launch of the music network Channel [V] in 1994, which had cult
following. Irumbukkottai Murattu Singam (2010), a Western adventure comedy film, based on cowboy movies and
paying homages to the John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Jaishankar, was made in Tamil.

Martial arts Western (Wuxia Western)


While many of these mash-ups (e.g., Billy Jack (1971) and its sequel The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)) are cheap
exploitation films, others are more serious dramas such as the Kung Fu TV series, which ran from 1972 to 1975.
Comedy examples include the Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson collaboration Shanghai Noon (2000). Further sub-
divisions of this subgenre include Ninja Westerns and Samurai Westerns (incorporating samurai cinema themes),
such as Red Sun (1971) with Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune.

Meat pie Western


The Meat pie Western (a slang term which plays on the Italo-western moniker "Spaghetti Western"[27]) is a Western-
style movie or TV series set in Australia, especially the Australian Outback or the Australian Bush.[28] Films such as
Rangle River (1936), The Kangaroo Kid (1950),The Sundowners (1960), Ned Kelly (1970), The Man from Snowy
River (1982) and The Proposition (2005) are all representative of the genre.[29]

Northwestern
The Northern genre is a subgenre of Westerns taking place in Alaska or Western Canada. Examples include several
versions of the Rex Beach novel, The Spoilers (including 1930's The Spoilers, with Gary Cooper, and 1942's The
Spoilers, with Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott and Wayne); The Far Country (1954) with James Stewart; North to
Alaska (1960) with Wayne; Death Hunt (1981) with Charles Bronson; and The Grey Fox (1983) with Richard
Farnsworth.

Ostern
Osterns, also known as "Red Western"s, are produced in Eastern Europe. They were popular in Communist Eastern
European countries and were a particular favorite of Joseph Stalin, and usually portrayed the American Indians
sympathetically, as oppressed people fighting for their rights, in contrast to American Westerns of the time, which
frequently portrayed the Indians as villains. Osterns frequently featured Gypsies or Turkic people in the role of the
Indians, due to the shortage of authentic Indians in Eastern Europe.

Gojko Mitić portrayed righteous, kind-hearted, and charming Indian chiefs (e.g., in Die Söhne der großen Bärin
(1966) directed by Josef Mach). He became honorary chief of the Sioux tribe, when he visited the United States in the
1990s and the television crew accompanying him showed the tribe one of his films. American actor and singer Dean
Reed, an expatriate who lived in East Germany, also starred in several Ostern films.

Pornographic Western
The most rare of the Western subgenres, pornographic Westerns use the Old West as a background for stories
primarily focused on erotica. The three major examples of the porn Western film are Russ Meyer's nudie-cutie Wild
Gals of the Naked West (1962), and the hardcore A Dirty Western (1975) and Sweet Savage (1979). Sweet Savage
starred Aldo Ray, a veteran actor who had appeared in traditional Westerns, in a non-sex role. Among videogames,
Custer's Revenge (1982) is an infamous example, considered to be one of the worst video games of all time.

Revisionist Western
After the early 1960s, many American filmmakers began to question and change many traditional elements of
Westerns, and to make Revisionist Westerns that encouraged audiences to question the simple hero-versus-villain
dualism and the morality of using violence to test one's character or to prove oneself right. This is shown in Sam
Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969). One major revision was the increasingly positive representation of Native
Americans, who had been treated as "savages" in earlier films. Examples of such revisionist Westerns include Ride the
High Country (1962), Richard Harris' A Man Called Horse (1970), Little Big Man (1970), Soldier Blue (1970), Man in
the Wilderness (1971), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Dances with Wolves (1990) and Dead Man (1995). A few
earlier Revisionist Westerns gave women more powerful roles, such as Westward the Women (1951) starring Robert
Taylor. Another earlier work encompassed all these features, The Last Wagon (1956). In it, Richard Widmark played a
white man raised by Comanches and persecuted by whites, with Felicia Farr and Susan Kohner playing young women
forced into leadership roles.

Science fiction Western


The science fiction Western places science fiction elements within a traditional Western setting. Examples include
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1965), The Valley of Gwangi (1969) featuring cowboys and dinosaurs.
John Jakes's "Six Gun Planet" takes place on a future planet colonized by people consciously seeking to recreate the
Old West (with cowboys riding robot horses...) [2] (https://books.google.co.il/books/about/On_Wheels_Six_Gun_Pl
anet.html?id=Q6OGZprSGtcC&redir_esc=y). The movie Westworld (1973) and its sequel Futureworld (1976), Back to
the Future Part III (1990), Wild Wild West (1999), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), and the TV series Westworld (2016,
based on the movie). Fallout: New Vegas (2010) is an example of a video game that follows this format, with futuristic
technology and genetic mutations placed among the western themes and desert sprawl of the Mojave Wasteland.

Space Western
The Space Western or Space Frontier is a subgenre of science fiction which uses the themes and tropes of Westerns
within science fiction stories. Subtle influences may include exploration of new, lawless frontiers, while more overt
influences may feature literal cowboys in outer space who use ray guns and ride robotic horses. Examples include the
American television series BraveStarr (which aired original episodes from September 1987 to February 1988) and
Firefly (created by Joss Whedon in 2002), and the films Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), which is a remake of The
Magnificent Seven; Outland (1981), which is a remake of High Noon; and Serenity (2005, based on the Firefly TV
series). Another example is the Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop. The classic western genre has also been a major
influence on science fiction films such as the original Star Wars movie of 1977, with 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story
more directly featuring western tropes. Famously Gene Roddenberry pitched the concept of the TV show Star Trek as
a Wagon Train to the stars.

Spaghetti Western
During the 1960s and 1970s, a revival of the Western emerged in Italy with the "Spaghetti Westerns" also known as
"Italo-Westerns". The most famous of them is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Many of these films are low-
budget affairs, shot in locations (for example, the Spanish desert region of Almería) chosen for their inexpensive crew
and production costs as well as their similarity to landscapes of the Southwestern United States. Spaghetti Westerns
were characterized by the presence of more action and violence than the Hollywood Westerns. Also, the protagonists
usually acted out of more selfish motives (money or revenge being the most common) than in the classical
westerns.[30] Some Spaghetti Westerns demythologized the American Western tradition, and some films from the
genre are considered revisionist Westerns.

The Western films directed by Sergio Leone were felt by some to have a different tone than the Hollywood
Westerns.[31] Veteran American actors Charles Bronson, Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood[31] became famous by
starring in Spaghetti Westerns, although the films also provided a showcase for other noted actors such as James
Coburn, Henry Fonda, Rod Steiger, Klaus Kinski, and Jason Robards. Eastwood, previously the lead in the television
series Rawhide, unexpectedly found himself catapulted into the forefront of the film industry by Leone's A Fistful of
Dollars.[31]

Weird Western
The Weird Western subgenre blends elements of a classic Western with other elements. The Wild Wild West television
series, television movies, and 1999 film adaptation blend the Western with steampunk. The Jonah Hex franchise also
blends the Western with superhero elements. The film Western Religion (2015), by writer and director James O'Brien,
introduces the devil into a traditional wild west setting. The Old Man Logan (2008-2009) graphic novel combines the
elements of superhero and post-apocalyptic fiction with western.

Genre studies
In the 1960s academic and critical attention to cinema as a legitimate art
form emerged. With the increased attention, film theory was developed to
attempt to understand the significance of film. From this environment
emerged (in conjunction with the literary movement) an enclave of critical
studies called genre studies. This was primarily a semantic and
structuralist approach to understanding how similar films convey meaning.

One of the results of genre studies is that some have argued that
"Westerns" need not take place in the American West or even in the 19th
Tom Mix in Mr. Logan, U.S.A., c.
century, as the codes can be found in other types of films. For example, a
1919
very typical Western plot is that an eastern lawman heads west, where he
matches wits and trades bullets with a gang of outlaws and thugs, and is
aided by a local lawman who is well-meaning but largely ineffective until a critical moment when he redeems himself
by saving the hero's life. This description can be used to describe any number of Westerns, but also other films such as
Die Hard (itself a loose reworking of High Noon) and Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, which are frequently cited
examples of films that do not take place in the American West but have many themes and characteristics common to
Westerns. Likewise, films set in the American Old West may not necessarily be considered "Westerns."

Influences
Being period drama pieces, both the Western and samurai genre influenced each other in style and themes throughout
the years.[32] The Magnificent Seven was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's film The Seven Samurai, and A Fistful of
Dollars was a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which itself was inspired by Red Harvest, an American detective novel
by Dashiell Hammett.[33] Kurosawa was influenced by American Westerns and was a fan of the genre, most especially
John Ford.[34][35]

Despite the Cold War, the Western was a strong influence on Eastern Bloc cinema, which had its own take on the
genre, the so-called "Red Western" or "Ostern". Generally these took two forms: either straight Westerns shot in the
Eastern Bloc, or action films involving the Russian Revolution and civil war and the Basmachi rebellion.

An offshoot of the Western genre is the "post-apocalyptic" Western, in which a future society, struggling to rebuild
after a major catastrophe, is portrayed in a manner very similar to the 19th-century frontier. Examples include The
Postman and the Mad Max series, and the computer game series Fallout. Many elements of space travel series and
films borrow extensively from the conventions of the Western genre. This is particularly the case in the space Western
subgenre of science fiction. Peter Hyams' Outland transferred the plot of High Noon to Io, moon of Jupiter. Gene
Roddenberry, the creator of the Star Trek series, pitched his show as "Wagon Train to the stars" early on, but
admitted later that this was more about getting it produced in a time that loved Western-themed TV series than about
its actual content. The Book of Eli depicts the post apocalypse as a Western with large knives.

More recently, the space opera series Firefly used an explicitly Western theme for its portrayal of frontier worlds.
Anime shows like Cowboy Bebop, Trigun and Outlaw Star have been similar mixes of science fiction and Western
elements. The science fiction Western can be seen as a subgenre of either Westerns or science fiction. Elements of
Western films can be found also in some films belonging essentially to other genres. For example, Kelly's Heroes is a
war film, but action and characters are Western-like. The British film Zulu set during the Anglo-Zulu War has
sometimes been compared to a Western, even though it is set in South Africa.

The character played by Humphrey Bogart in film noir films such as Casablanca
and To Have and Have Not—an individual bound only by his own private code of
honor—has a lot in common with the classic Western hero. In turn, the Western
has also explored noir elements, as with the films Pursued and Sugar Creek.

In many of Robert A. Heinlein's books, the settlement of other planets is depicted


in ways explicitly modeled on American settlement of the West. For example, in
his Tunnel in the Sky settlers set out to the planet "New Canaan", via an
interstellar teleporter portal across the galaxy, in Conestoga wagons, their captain
sporting mustaches and a little goatee and riding a Palomino horse—with
Heinlein explaining that the colonists would need to survive on their own for
some years, so horses are more practical than machines.
John Wayne (1948)
Stephen King's The Dark Tower is a series of seven books that meshes themes of
Westerns, high fantasy, science fiction and horror. The protagonist Roland
Deschain is a gunslinger whose image and personality are largely inspired by the "Man with No Name" from Sergio
Leone's films. In addition, the superhero fantasy genre has been described as having been derived from the cowboy
hero, only powered up to omnipotence in a primarily urban setting. The Western genre has been parodied on a
number of occasions, famous examples being Support Your Local Sheriff!, Cat Ballou, Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles,
and Rustler's Rhapsody.

George Lucas's Star Wars films use many elements of a Western, and Lucas has said he intended for Star Wars to
revitalize cinematic mythology, a part the Western once held. The Jedi, who take their name from Jidaigeki, are
modeled after samurai, showing the influence of Kurosawa. The character Han Solo dressed like an archetypal
gunslinger, and the Mos Eisley cantina is much like an Old West saloon.

Meanwhile, films such as The Big Lebowski, which plucked actor Sam Elliott out of the Old West and into a Los
Angeles bowling alley, and Midnight Cowboy, about a Southern-boy-turned-gigolo in New York (who disappoints a
client when he doesn't measure up to Gary Cooper), transplanted Western themes into modern settings for both
purposes of parody and homage.[36]

Literature
Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West, most commonly between the years of 1860 and
1900. The first critically recognized Western was The Virginian (1902) by Owen Wister."Classic Wild West Literature"
(https://wildwestliving.com/blogs/news/wild-west-literature). Other well-known writers of Western fiction include
Zane Grey, from the early 1900s, Ernest Haycox, Luke Short, and Louis L'Amour, from the mid 20th century. Many
writers better known in other genres, such as Leigh Brackett, Elmore Leonard, and Larry McMurtry, have also written
Western novels. The genre's popularity peaked in the 1960s, due in part to the shuttering of many pulp magazines, the
popularity of televised Westerns, and the rise of the spy novel. Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s
and reached a new low in the 2000s. Most bookstores, outside of a few Western states, now only carry a small number
of Western novels and short story collections.[37]

Literary forms that share similar themes include stories of the American frontier, the gaucho literature of Argentina,
and tales of the settlement of the Australian Outback.

Television
Television Westerns are a subgenre of the Western. When television
became popular in the late 1940s and 1950s, TV Westerns quickly became
an audience favorite.[38] Beginning with re-broadcasts of existing films, a
number of movie cowboys had their own TV shows. As demand for the
Western increased, new stories and stars were introduced. A number of
long-running TV Westerns became classics in their own right, such as: The
Lone Ranger (1949-1957), The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-
1961), Gunsmoke (1955-1975), Maverick (1957-1962), Have Gun – Will
Travel (1957-1963), Wagon Train (1957-1965), Sugarfoot (1957-1961), The
Rifleman (1958-1963), Rawhide (1959-1966), Bonanza (1959-1973), The
Virginian (1962-1971), and The Big Valley (1965-1969). The Life and
Legend of Wyatt Earp was the first Western television series written for
adults,[39] premiering four days before Gunsmoke on September 6,
1955.[40][41]
James Garner and Jack Kelly in
The peak year for television Westerns was 1959, with 26 such shows airing Maverick (1957)
during primetime. At least six of them were connected in some extent to
Wyatt Earp: The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson,
Tombstone Territory, Broken Arrow, Johnny Ringo, and Gunsmoke.[42] Increasing costs of American television
production weeded out most action half hour series in the early 1960s, and their replacement by hour-long television
shows, increasingly in color.[43] Traditional Westerns died out in the late 1960s as a result of network changes in
demographic targeting along with pressure from parental television groups. Future entries in the genre would
incorporate elements from other genera, such as crime drama and mystery whodunit elements. Western shows from
the 1970s included Hec Ramsey, Kung Fu, Little House on the Prairie, and McCloud. In the 1990s and 2000s, hour-
long Westerns and slickly packaged made-for-TV movie Westerns were introduced, such as: Lonesome Dove (1989)
and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. As well, new elements were once again added to the Western formula, such as the
Western-science fiction show Firefly, created by Joss Whedon in 2002. Deadwood was a critically acclaimed Western
series which aired on HBO from 2004 through 2006.

Visual art
A number of visual artists focused their work on representations of the American Old West. American West-oriented
art is sometimes referred to as "Western Art" by Americans. This relatively new category of art includes paintings,
sculptures, and sometimes Native American crafts. Initially, subjects included exploration of the Western states and
cowboy themes. Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell are two artists who captured the "Wild West" on
canvas.[44] Some art museums, such as the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Wyoming and the Autry National Center
in Los Angeles, feature American Western Art.[45]

Other media
The popularity of Westerns extends beyond films, literature,
television, and visual art to include numerous other media
forms.

Anime and manga


With anime and manga, the genre tends towards the Science
fiction Western [e.g., Cowboy Bebop (1998 anime), Trigun
(1995-2007 manga), and Outlaw Star (1996-1999 manga)].
Although contemporary Westerns also appear, such as Kōya
no Shōnen Isamu, a 1971 shōnen manga about a boy with a
Japanese father and a Native American mother, or El
Cazador de la Bruja, a 2007 anime television series set in
modern-day Mexico. Part 7 of the manga series JoJo's
Bizarre Adventure is based in the American Western setting.
The story follows racers in a transcontinental horse race, the
"Steel Ball Run" race.

Comics
Western comics have included serious entries (such as the
classic comics of the late 1940s and early 1950s (such as Kid "As Wild felled one of the redskins by a blow from
Colt, Outlaw, Rawhide Kid, and Red Ryder), cartoons, and the butt of his revolver, and sprang for the one
with the tomahawk, the chief's daughter suddenly
parodies (such as Cocco Bill and Lucky Luke). In the 1990s
appeared. Raising her hands, she exclaimed, 'Go
and 2000s, Western comics leaned toward the Weird West back, Young Wild West. I will save her!'" (1908)
subgenre, usually involving supernatural monsters, or
Christian iconography as in Preacher. However, more
traditional Western comics are found throughout this period (e.g., Jonah Hex and Loveless).

Games
Western arcade games, computer games, role-playing games, and video games are often either straightforward
Westerns or Western Horror hybrids. Some Western themed-computer games include The Oregon Trail (1971), Mad
Dog McCree (1990), Sunset Riders (1991), Outlaws (1997), Red Dead Revolver (2004), Gun (2005), Call of Juarez
(2007), Red Dead Redemption (2010), and Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018). Other video games adapt the Science
fiction Western or Weird West subgenres such as Fallout (1997), Gunman Chronicles (2000), Darkwatch (2005), the
Borderlands series (first released in 2009), Fallout: New Vegas (2010), and Hard West (2015).

Radio dramas
Western radio dramas were very popular from the 1930s to the 1960s. Some popular shows include The Lone Ranger
(first broadcast in 1933), The Cisco Kid (first broadcast in 1942), Dr. Sixgun (first broadcast in 1954), Have Gun–Will
Travel (first broadcast in 1958), and Gunsmoke (first broadcast in 1952).[46]

Web series
Westerns have been showcased in short episodic web series. Examples include League of STEAM, Red Bird and
Arkansas Traveler.
See also
5-in-1 Blank Cartridges TV Western
AFI'S 10 Top 10 List of film genres
Boss of the plains List of genres
Cowboy List of Western computer and video games
Dime Western List of Western fiction authors
Golden Boot Awards Lists of Western films
History of Movie Ranches Western lifestyle
History of United States continental expansion Western Writers of America
Native American History Earl W. Bascom
Native American history of California Frederic Remington
Sombrero Charles Russell

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Further reading
Buscombe, Edward, and Christopher Brookeman. The BFI Companion to the Western (A. Deutsch, 1988); BFI =
British Film Institute
Everson, William K. A pictorial history of the western film (New York: Citadel Press, 1969)
Kitses, Jim. Horizons West: The Western from John Ford to Clint Eastwood (British Film Institute, 2007).
Lenihan, John H. Showdown: Confronting Modern America in the Western Film (University of Illinois Press, 1980)
Nachbar, John G. Focus on the Western (Prentice Hall, 1974)
Simmon, Scott. The Invention of the Western Film: A Cultural History of the Genre's First Half Century
(Cambridge University Press, 2003)

External links
500 Classic Western Films on DVD (https://www.bonanza.com/listings/Classic-Western-Films-DVD-Set/52742809
6)
Most Popular Westerns (https://web.archive.org/web/20100401113349/http://www.imdb.com/genre/western) at
Internet Movie Database
Western Writers of America website (https://web.archive.org/web/20050901053348/http://www.westernwriters.or
g/)
The Western (https://web.archive.org/web/20060630053638/http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_to
v/ai_2419101308/print), St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, 2002
I Watch Westerns (https://web.archive.org/web/20140914004019/https://mises.org/daily/4930/I-Watch-Westerns),
Ludwig von Mises Institute
Film Festival for the Western Genre website (http://www.thewildbunchfilmfestival.com/)

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