- Prior to the 1940s, female leads in Westerns tended to wear long riding skirts and ride sidesaddle. By the 1940s, however, cultural mores were beginning to change, and a highpoint in many films of the time came when the pretty female lead changed her skirt for sexy, tight-fitting pants and rode a horse alongside the men. Pants roles clearly emphasized independence but also gave films under the Production Code a means of providing sex appeal for the audience. Barbara Stanwyck, for example, could work her female charms while dressed in fine lace, but when she donned pants and rode her horse like a man in Cattle Queen of Montana(1954), she showed her charms to the audience. The images of B Western female stars such as Reno Browne, Dale Evans, Evelyn Finley, Beth Marion, and Sally Payne often depended on their pants roles.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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