Dream West

9780292748286: Paperback
Release Date: 1st November 2013

146 b&w photos

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 390

Series Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture

University of Texas Press

Dream West

Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies

Paperback / £22.99

While political liberals celebrated the end of “cowboy politics” with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, political conservatives in the Tea Party and other like-minded groups still vociferously support “cowboy” values such as small government, low taxes, free-market capitalism, and the right to bear arms. Yet, as Douglas Brode argues in this paradigm-shifting book, these supposedly cowboy or “Old West” values hail not so much from the actual American frontier of the nineteenth century as from Hollywood’s portrayal of it in the twentieth century. And a close reading of Western films and TV shows reveals a much more complex picture than the romanticized, simplistic vision espoused by the conservative right.

Examining dozens of Westerns, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Red River, 3:10 to Yuma (old and new), The Wild Ones, High Noon, My Darling Clementine, The Alamo, and No Country for Old Men, Brode demonstrates that the genre (with notable exceptions that he fully covers) was the product of Hollywood liberals who used it to project a progressive agenda on issues such as gun control, environmental protection, respect for non-Christian belief systems, and community cohesion versus rugged individualism. Challenging us to rethink everything we thought we knew about the genre, Brode argues that the Western stands for precisely the opposite of what most people today—whether they love it or hate it—believe to be the essential premise of “the only truly, authentically, and uniquely American narrative form.”

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction. “Code of the West”: Politics, Religion, and Popular Culture
  • Part One. Cowboy Politics: Roosevelt through Reagan
    • 1. To Die in the West: The O.K. Corral, History versus Film
    • 2. Sheriff of Cochise: Thirty Seconds to Eternity
    • 3. Red, White, and Blue States: Political Philosophy in Nineteenth-Century America
    • 4. “From My Cold, Dead Hands": Gun Control in the West and Westerns
    • 5. Way of the Gun: Violence in American Life
    • 6. It‘s a Man's World? Gender Politics on Hollywood’s Frontier
    • 7. Go West, Young (Business)Man: American Dreamers, Political Schemers
    • 8. Redistributing the Wealth: Gene Autry, Frank Capra, and the New Deal Western
    • 9. Don‘t Fence Me In: Rugged Individualism and Open Range
    • 10. Silent Springs, Vanishing Prairies: Environmentalism and the Western
    • 11. Red States, Red Menace: Of Cowboys and Communism
    • 12. Once upon a Time in a Revolution: Radical Politics and the Western Film
    • 13. Viva Juárez! Viva Villa! Viva Zapata! The Biographical Western as Political Allegory
    • 14. All the Right Stuff: The World According to John Wayne
    • 15. Flag-Waving on the Wild Frontier: Stars and Stripes as Political Ideology
  • Part Two. God‘s Country: Religion in the Western Film
    • 16. Odes to American Imperialism: Manifest Destiny in Western Movies
    • 17. The Town and the City: Space as Theme, Place as Character
    • 18. Glory in the (Wild)Flower: Romanticism on the Open Range
    • 19. Hearts of Darkness, Souls of Light: Visions of Nature in American Film and Fiction
    • 20. A Chapel in the Canyon: Religiosity, American-Style
    • 21. Multiculturalism, Mormonism, and Movies: Hollywood’s History and Cultural Appropriation
    • 22. End of the Trail: The Dark Side of Faith
    • 23. Ride Out for Vengeance: Revising a Western Paradigm
    • 24. Old Testament and New: Days of Wrath, Angels of Mercy
    • 25. The Church and the Saloon: Catholic versus Protestant Westerns
    • 26. Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Pistol and the Pulpit
    • 27. Harts of the West: The Gospel According to Clint
    • 28. Then Came Sam! From Pappy to Peckinpah
    • 29. Count No Man Lucky until His Death: The Western as American Tragedy
    • 30. Born Again: Of Cowboys, Christianity, and Conversion
  • Conclusion. No Country for Bold Men: The Western Film in the Twenty-First Century
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Films and Shows
  • General Index

Douglas Brode is a screenwriter, playwright, novelist, graphic novelist, film historian, and multi-award-winning journalist who has written nearly forty books on movies and the mass media.

"Clearly Brode has made an important contribution to the literature on Western motion pictures. On nearly every page readers are confronted with new perspectives and ways of understanding how a film genre over one hundred years old addresses critical issues of American politics and religion."

Western Historical Quaterly