In these Westerns, the plot is driven by revenge, perhaps the most common Western storyline of all. These Westerns appeal to some of the basest desires of the human heart. Occasionally, as in Winchester ’73 (1950), the entire movie is built around a chase and pursuit of the villains. Other times, the revenge motive does not become obvious until the end. At the beginning of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), for example, Harmonica (Charles Bronson) is simply a mystery character, appearing out of nowhere with the haunting melody of his harmonica preceding him. Yet he can competently throw a gun. We find out at the end that he seeks revenge on Frank (Henry Fonda), the villain who had killed Harmonica’s father when he was a little boy. This revenge plot is echoed deliberately in The Quick and the Dead(1995) when we find out at the end that Ellen (Sharon Stone) kills Herod (Gene Hackman) because years earlier Herod had killed her father in the same way. The question to ask is whether the revenge motive is justified by a sense of justice or by a sense of retribution—whether the necessity of seeking personal revenge is simply assumed. Acommon criticism of Westerns is that revenge is simply accepted as a code of behavior.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Slocum (westerns) — Slocum Westerns are the longest running series of Westerns ever written, encompassing over 317 books, all of which are published under the pen name Jake Logan. The books were written by a number of authors,Fact|date=December 2006 and all feature… …   Wikipedia

  • MANN, Anthony — (1906–1967)    Born Emil Bundesmann in San Diego, California, Mann began his career on the New York stage both as actor and director. In 1938 he moved to Hollywood and worked behind the scenes as casting director, talent scout, and assistant… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE —    Retribution and revenge are essential parts of the unofficial code of the West. The seeking of revenge is a noble pursuit, unquestioned in classic Westerns: “For nearly a century the Western has celebrated the man hunt and the man hunter. The… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • WINCHESTER ’73 (1950) —    Jimmy Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Anthony Mann (director)    This noir Western is the first in the series of Westerns that Stewart made for Anthony Mann. The others are Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953) …   Westerns in Cinema

  • CLASSIC WESTERN FORMULAS —    The Great Train Robbery (1903), along with early popular novels such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian (1902), quickly established the basic formulas for classic Westerns. Since the beginning, cinema Westerns, like popular Western novels, have… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • CAREY, Harry — (1878–1947)    Born in the Bronx, Harry Carey developed a film career that started in the earliest days of nickelodeon silent pictures and stretched through World War II. By 1916 he was starring in such Westerns as A Knight of the Rangewith Olive …   Westerns in Cinema

  • HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973) —    Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Clint Eastwood (director)    A small town in the far North is beset by a band of outlaws. The townspeople turn to The Stranger (Eastwood) for protection, a man who has ridden into town out of nowhere …   Westerns in Cinema

  • THE SEARCHERS (1956) —    John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Natalie Wood, Vera Miles, Henry Brandon, Ward Bond, John Ford (director)    In 1956, communism was the fear at the front of most Americans’minds, not just a fear of invasion or destruction through intercontinental… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • CORBUCCI, Sergio — (1927–1990)    Often referred to as “the other Sergio” (to Sergio Leone), Italian director Sergio Corbucci developed some of the most innovative Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. While his spaghetti Westerns may not enjoy the critical reputation… …   Westerns in Cinema

  • THE QUICK AND THE DEAD (1995) —    Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Woody Strode, Sam Raimi (director)    The town of Redemption is holding a world championship quick draw tournament, and the best shooters from around the world have gathered. Herod… …   Westerns in Cinema

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.