Location, Location, Location
The striking beauty
of the wide-open western plains, mountains and deserts is the great
quality of a Western. When we
think of John Wayne movie titles, we remember Rio Bravo, Fort
Apache, Red River, and North to Alaska.
These films depict a certain location.
studios shoot very few Westerns at the locations they are the subject.
Director John Ford makes his films Fort Apache, Rio Bravo,
and My Darling Clementine in Monument Valley in the Navajo
Reservation in Arizona and Utah. The actual locations of Fort Apache in the Arizona White
Mountains, the Rio Grande, and Tombstone, Arizona are hundreds of miles
away from Monument Valley.
the film budgets determine the filming location.
With their critical budget restrictions, the B�Western can rarely
afford to shoot in the locations the titles called for.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, we see
biographies, dime novels, and plays making what today we know as the
�Western.� In this
evolving genre, we define the typical Western character as the man of
action, the hero brave in the face of physical danger.
The heart of Western is not just the story but it is
the action. It is a horseback
chase, an Indian attack on the wagon train or a gunfight. This is what thrills us.
In 1903, the huge success of The
Great Train Robbery is
surely based on its non-stop stunning action, the train hold-up and final shoot out. Even though film in New Jersey, the location is convincing
and looks like the real west.
By the time that movies begin, we see whole range of
form and formats the Western movies have.
Clear images or ideas are available.
By 1900, the Western film draws from a rich array of material.
The 1800s and before created a whole gallery of types and
situations. They are the
heroic figures that Western stories demand: cowboys, explorers, mountain
men, pathfinders, Indians, scouts, miners, soldiers, outlaws, gamblers,
farmers and many more.
Because of the primitive nature of the early movies,
lack of color and sound, many of the Western art forms were unavailable.
The cowboy actual came late as a central heroic Western figure.
Man like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone over the long
history of the Western movie were minor to the cowboy.
The Western movie brings to mind many images and
phrases like; �the good guys and the bad guys�, �cowboys and
Indians�, and �riding off into the sunset.�
Western movies strictly give certain costumes to a particular role. The good guys may not always wear white hats, nor do the bad
guys always wear black.
Western hero and good guy, Hopalong Cassidy, he wears a black hat.
However, the gambler wears a black frock coat, a bootlace tie, and
waistcoat. For the range
cowboy, he has a wide-brimmed hat, jean and boots.
The married woman wears a full skirt dress of sturdy material,
typically checkered, buttoned up to the neck, close fitting around the
The Western has its own vocabulary, syntax and
accent. You find many of the
words derived from Spanish, which are specific to the West like buckaroo,
chaps, remuda, or lasso. When
Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine when asked to dance, he
answers, �I�d admire to ma�am.�
The answer does not mark him as a hick.
Sentences from the Western are common like; �A man�s gotta do
what a man�s gotta do.�