TYPE CHARACTERS

   The Western genre operates much like stage comedies in that it depends heavily on type characters—people in the film that can be quickly sized up according to the role they play. Often these types become cliches. Some common type characters often seen in Westerns, good and bad, include
   • undertakers who are tall, skinny, and wear dark suits, often with tails and top hat;
   • blacksmiths who dispense cracker barrel philosophy to their customers;
   • store keepers who are mild men with a wife and family;
   • doctors who are genial though perhaps dependent on the bottle;
   • judges who are heavyset and pompous;
   • lawyers and the newspaper editors who are sometimes part of a corrupt power regime or who might be straight and decent;
   • respectable women, with their children, who are in the background somewhere;
   • clergymen who are almost always Protestant preachers, usually effeminate and ineffective;
   • bartenders who are invisible;
   • saloon owners who often exert economic power in a community;
and
   • schoolmarms who are quietly beautiful when they let their hair down and take off their glasses.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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