1890 The year traditionally considered the official closing of the West according to the U.S. Census Bureau and also according to Frederick Jackson Turner, whose interpretation of the Western experience would dominate Western historical and cultural studies throughout the 20th century. By 1890, all remaining lands had been settled and, supposedly, all Native American tribes had been subdued and placed on reservations.
   29 December: The last significant “Indian battle,” according to contemporary estimates, was the Battle of Wounded Knee in South Dakota.
   1902 Owen Wister’s The Virginian:A Horseman of the Plainsbecame a national bestseller and established the Western as a fictional genre. Most of the basic plot characteristics of the Western as well as many of the cliches can be traced back to this popular novel.
   1903 1 December: Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery appeared on-screen. Although only eight minutes in running time, it is the first narrative film and the first Western.
   1907 George M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson and George K. Spoor established Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, the first major film studio, in Chicago.
   1908 3 November: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid reportedly died in a shootout near San Vicente, Bolivia. Thus, two of the last of the old-time outlaws of the West were still active when cinema Westerns were being made.
   1914 William S. Hart appeared in his first Western, The Bad Buck of Santa Ynez. 28 March:D. W. Griffith’s The Battle of Elderbrush Gulch appeared, an early, significant Western starring Mae Marsh and Lillian Gish.
   1917 26 March: John Ford began a long career directing with some Harry Carey Sr. one-reelers.
   1923 16 March: The Covered Wagon, directed by James Cruze, was one of the first Western epics ever released. A true high-budget blockbuster for its time, the film stock would be raided for years for cheap inserts into other films.
   1924 21 June: Wanderer of the Wasteland, based on a Zane Grey novel, was released, the first Western filmed in Technicolor.
   1925 15 October: The Vanishing American, the first Western to use Monument Valley for its setting, premiered in Los Angeles. 27 December: William S. Hart released his last film, the silent Tumbleweeds.
   1928 25 December: In Old Arizona, a Cisco Kid Western starring Warner Baxter, was released. It was the first Western talkie as well as the first talkie filmed outdoors. The era of sound had begun.
   1930 19 April: The Light of Western Stars, the last silent Western, was released. As with many films of this time, including Westerns, both a silent version and a sound version were made. The silent era officially closed.
   1931 1 December: Range Feud, a Buck Jones Western, appeared, with John Wayne in his first Western.
   1935 William S. Hart said goodbye to his fans. Well into the sound era, Hart re-released his last film, the silent Tumbleweeds (1925), and added an introduction to the film in which, walking beside Fritz, he laments the passing of the old ways, thanks him for being faithful through the years, says goodbye to his viewers, and walks his horse up and over the hill into the sunset. 23 February: Gene Autry’s first starring film, The Phantom Empire, began playing. The science-fiction Westernwould be the beginning of a long career for the singing cowboy. 23 August:William Boyd’s first Hopalong Cassidy film was released.
   1936 16 November: Cecil B. DeMille’s The Plainsmanwas released. This big-budget epic, starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur, was DeMille’s one effort to make one of his trademark epic spectacles in the Western style.
   1938 20 April: Roy Rogers starred in his first Western, Under Western Stars. His popularity was established, and thereafter he would be billed as “King of the Cowboys.”
   1939 2 March: John Ford’s Stagecoach was released. Although John Wayne received secondary billing, this was the film in which he became an A-list Western star. 1 April: Hollywood descended on Dodge City, Kansas, for the week-long world-premier celebration of Dodge City, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Flynn and other stars of the film, such as Ann Sheridan, as well as celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, arrived by train to begin the festivities. The high-budget spectacular was another attempt to change Westerns from B movies into respectable cinema.
   1940 12 October: Tom Mix, speeding across the Arizona desert in a
   1937 Cord Sportsman, failed to negotiate a turn and crashed, dying in a blaze of glory worthy of his Western film exploits.
   1942 28 November:Buck Jones was guest of honor at the prestigious Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston when a fire broke out, killing more than 500 people, including Jones.
   1944 John Wayne helped organize the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a reactionary anticommunist organization. Wayne and Ward Bond would be later presidents of the organization, which in the 1950s would collude with the House Un-American Activities Committee in its search for communists and communist sympathizers in Hollywood. The actors made many enemies in Hollywood and their efforts divided the film community along political lines. 13 May: Roy Rogers’s and Dale Evans’s first film together, Cowboy and the Senorita, appeared.
   1946 23 April: Howard Hughes’s The Outlaw, starring Jane Russell, opened in San Francisco. The theater owner was immediately arrested for film obscenity. Nevertheless, the movie was soon showing across the country to shocked yet curious audiences. Westerns were suddenly glamorous and sexy. 30 December: Following soon after The Outlaw, David O. Selznick’s and King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun premiered at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, just in time to qualify for the Oscars. Jennifer Jones’s sensuous portrayal of the “half-breed” Pearl, who destroys two men’s lives, provided considerable controversy and publicity. Coming at a time when wholesome B Westerns were marked to a youth market, Duel in the Sun and The Outlaw marked a decided shift to erotic Westerns, which would become more pronounced in the 1950s.
   1947 31 December: Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys,” and Dale Evans, “Queen of the Cowgirls,” were married in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
   1949 24 June:The Hopalong Cassidy Showaired on NBC. The era of television Westerns had begun.
   1950 1 June: Audie Murphy’s first Western, Sierra, was released. Murphy, the United States’ most decorated soldier in World War II, came home a hero and by the late 1940s had become one of the most popular Western stars. From 1950 to 1969, 25 of the 28 films he starred in were Westerns, such as Destry (1954) and Hell Bent for Leather (1960).
   12 July: Anthony Mann, film noir director, aired Winchester ’73, starring Jimmy Stewart, an attempt to bring noir to Westerns. 15
   November: Rio Grande premiered, bringing to a close John Ford’s Cavalry Trilogy, which also included My Darling Clementine (1946) and Fort Apache (1948). The three films, starring John Wayne, developed Ford’s post–World War II vision of U.S. foreign policy.
   1952 January: The first of Budd Boetticher’s Western noirs, The Cimarron Kid (1952), starring Audie Murphy, appeared. Boetticher’s great Westerns would all appear in the 1950s, culminating with a series of Randolph Scott films, including Seven Men from Now (1956) and The Tall T(1957).
   24 July:High Noonpremiered. The film had already stirred controversy when its screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee for questioning into his communist sympathies. Foreman was later blacklisted from Hollywood as a communist sympathizer. So High Noon is often considered to be an allegory of what happens to good people hunted by anticommunist zealots, such as senator Joseph McCarthy.
   1953 27 November: Hondo, filmed in 3D and starring John Wayne, was released. The audience had to wear special glasses to get the full effect. The gimmick never really caught on.
   1954 10 February: Phantom Stallion, starring Rex Allen, last of the singing cowboys, was released. It is often considered the last truly B Western, and thus it signaled the end of the B Western era.
   1955 Jacques Bazin, highly influential French film critic and cofounder of Cahiers du Cinema, wrote approvingly of Western films, legitimizing Westerns as worthy of serious film study. 21 September: The last of Ronald Reagan’s gunfighter Westerns, Tennessee’s Partners, appeared. The trilogy also included Law and Order (1953) and Cattle Queen of Montana (1954).
   1957 30 May: John Sturges’sGunfight at the O.K. Corral, nominated for two Academy Awards, premiered.
   1959 4 April: Howard Hawks’s answer to High Noon (1952), Rio Bravo, appeared, starring John Wayne. The film showed what a truly American lawman would do when facing a similar situation to the leftleaning sheriff played by Gary Cooper in High Noon.
   1960 23 October: The Magnificent Seven opened, and a brief period of the new Western epic commenced.
   1962 22 April: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance appeared.
   1964 John Ford directed his last Western, Cheyenne Autumn.
   1967 1 February:A Fistful of Dollarswas released in New York. The spaghetti Western had arrived. Early criticism and fan reaction was derisive and harsh, while box office receipts piled up.
   1968 4 July: John Wayne’s The Green Berets, a Vietnam combat movie, premiered in Atlanta, Georgia, on Independence Day. Although not a Western, the film inadvertently helped change the direction Westerns would take in the future. Released at the height of antiwar sentiment, The Green Beretsrevealed John Wayne’s jingoistic patriotism and also showed the venerable cowboy fighter as simply old. Wayne’s reputation would never be the same. His day had long passed, and America said goodbye to one of its last heroes.
   1969 18 June: The Wild Bunch premiered in Los Angeles, the most violent Western and one of the most violent films of any genre to date.
   24 October: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid appeared and modernized the Western.
   1970 7 April: John Wayne received his only Oscar, for best actor in True Grit (1969). 23 December: Little Big Man appeared, one of the first truly revisionist Westerns. The way cowboys and Indians were played out on film would never be the same again.
   1974 7 February: Mel Brooks’s Western spoof Blazing Saddles began its run in theaters across the United States. The putdown of the Western genre was so hilarious and yet so severe that many felt sure the Western as a significant film genre was dead.
   1979 11 June: John Wayne died. With his death, there could no longer be any question that the era of classic Westerns was over.
   1980 Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, a highly publicized, bigbudget film, became a major box-office failure. Critics said it was so great a failure that it killed the Western forever. For much of the early 1980s, production companies refused to gamble again on Westerns.
   1981 20 January: Ronald Reagan became president of the United States, the only Western film actor ever to be so elected. In his campaigns and later presidential speech rhetoric, he exploited his image in Westerns as a tough, all-American cowboy for political purposes.
   1991 25 March: Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves won 7 Academy Awards while being nominated for 12. The success proved that Westerns could still be made successfully. But the film also ushered in a new era of alternative Westerns, with its fundamentally different perspective on the history of the frontier West.
   1993 Maggie Greenwald’s The Ballad of Little Jo, a Western with a cross-dressing female hero, began an era of numerous postmodern feminist Westerns in which gender roles are reversed. Feminist Westerns that followed include The Quick and the Dead (1995), The Missing (2003), and Gang of Roses (2003). 29 March: Unforgiven, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, won four Academy Awards while being nominated for nine. Eastwood won his first of many Oscars and was established without question as one of the dominant actors and directors of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
   1995 10 May: Jim Jarmusch’s postmodern Dead Man, starring Johnny Depp, was released in the United States a year after its European release. The film proved the Western genre capable of adapting to the postmodern era.
   2001 17 August: American Outlaws, a Western aimed at a teenage audience, was released.
   2003 15 August: Kevin Costner’s Open Range appeared.
   2005 16 December:Brokeback Mountain, a modern Western, was released after a publicity campaign lasting several months and with accompanying controversy over the story line of a long-standing homosexual relationship between two traditional working cowboys. The film won four Academy Awards after being nominated for nine.
   2007 7 September: 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe, a remake of the 1957 classic, was released. 5 October: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, starring Brad Pitt, was released. Together, these films signaled the health of the Western genre in the early 21st century.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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