THE AMERICAN WESTS ISSUES….
FILM & HISTORY: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF FILM AND TELEVISION
Table of Contents (with abstracts) for next issue: 33.1 (2003). The
American West(s), Part 1
Note: The forthcoming issue of Film & History will be the first of two
issues devoted to the American West in Film. These papers are juried
submissions culled from the fall, 2002 meeting of the Film and History League
in Kansas City, Gateway to the West.
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Genial Introduction by Peter C. Rollins
Introduction to the Issue by Deborah Carmichael
"_Cimarron_: The New Western History in 1931"
J. E. Smyth, Yale University
Although honored upon its release as a landmark of American historical
cinema, _Cimarron_ (RKO, 1931) was dismissed by ensuing scholarship as a
classical Hollywood frontier myth. A closer examination of the film's
production history reveals both its complex historical structure and active
engagement with contemporary Western historiography and criticism. The result
of this analysis calls for a fundamental revision of much scholarly writing
on classical Hollywood cinema, one which recognizes certain films' nuanced
and deliberately constructed historiographic vision.
"The 'Ache for Home' in Anthony Mann's _Devil's Doorway_ (1950)"
Joanna Hearne, University of Arizona-Tucson
_Devil's Doorway_ functions as a drama of re-integration and disintegration,
in which a Native American Civil War veteran disrupts the balance of power in
his home community. The film combines Western, film noir and "social
problem" genres to narrate the destabilization of post-war civic identities
and to condemn the U.S. reservation and treaty system. The conflicts faced
by the cinematic Shoshones resonate with those of Native Americans after
World War II, and tap the assimilationist stance of federal Indian policy in
the Termination era.
"Rewriting _High Noon_: Transformations of American Popular Culture During
the Cold War." Matthew J. Costello, Saint Xavier University
This paper explores how western films reveal the changing American popular
political culture of the Cold War. Long seen as Cold War commentaries,
westerns were the most popular film genre of the 1950s. _High Noon_ (1952)
spawned a sub-genre of western commonly called the law-and-order film.
Focusing on the role of women, youth, commerce, and the individual in the
American community, this paper analyzes three of these films, _The Tin Star
_(1957), _Warlock _(1959), and _Firecreek (1968)_ , to reveal a trajectory of
growing unease with the consensus of the "vital center" so lauded in 1950s
"Dead Men Walking: Consumption and Agency in the Western"
Loren Quiring, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
"Dead Men Walking" explains how Western male icons in films during the late
Sixties and early Seventies embodied contemporary feminist critiques of
consumerism, masculinity, and agency and yet simultaneously offered viewers a
fantasy of male power free of the consumerist culture that--in works such as
_Once Upon a Time in the West_, _Little Big Man_, and _Westworld_--erases the
very identity of the masculine "agent" engendered to serve that culture.
"American Identity In Westerns Since the Reagan Administration."
Alexandra Keller, Smith College
Through an examination of _Dances with Wolves_, _Walker_, and _Tombstone_,
this essay charts the range of historical and historiographic stances taken
by Westerns since their resurgence in the 1990s (after a near-total
disappearance during the Reagan-Bush years). These stances range from
conservative in liberal guise (Dances) to radical left (Walker), to a
seemingly apolitical interest in simple (if accurate) entertainment
(Tombstone). Under postmodern conditions, none of these categories is what
it used to be.
BOOK REVIEWS Robert J. Fyne, Ed. Kean University of New Jersey
FILM REVIEWS. Robert Sickels, Ed. Whitman College, Walla Walla Washington
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