The Western: An Overview by Gary Johnson
The Western has left an indelible mark on the world. Thanks to Hollywood, virtually everyone knows the ingredients of the Western--the lassos and the Colt .45s; the long-horned steers and the hanging trees; the stagecoaches and the Stetson hats; the outlaws and the lawmen; the gamblers and the gunfighters. And virtually everyone knows the settings of the Western--the red rock monoliths of Monument Valley; the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Teton Range; the treeless expanses of the prairie. The iconography of the Western is the largest and richest of all the film genres, and Hollywood has burned it into the minds of moviegoers from Dodge City to Timbuktu. Page summary: Introduction | Beginnings | The B Western | The Rise of the Feature Length Western | The Western Matures (includes an animated GIF from The Searchers) | The Western Loses Its Way | The Western Survives.
The Silent Western as Mythmaker by Peter Flynn
An historic overview of the early days of the genre from the late 1890s until the close of the silent era in the late 1920s with an emphasis on how the Western myth was developed and refined from its earliest articulation in dime novels and Wild West Shows. Page summary: The Myth and Pre-history of the Silent Western | Prospecting: The Edison Co. and Edwin S. Porter | Trail Blazing: Broncho Billy Anderson, the Genre's First Cowboy | Pioneering: Griffith, Ince, and the Western as Art and Commerce | Frontiersman: William S. Hart and Western Realism | Showmanship: Fairbanks, Mix, and the Jazz Age Cowboy | Epic Mythmaking: Cruze and Ford and the End of the Silent Era | Conclusion.
Spaghetti Westerns by John Nudge
Between 1960 and 1975, European film production companies made nearly 600 Westerns. Critics either blasted or ignored these films, and because most of them were financed by Italian companies, they called them "spaghetti westerns." Fans of the genre embraced the term which is now lovingly used to label any Western made and financed by Continental filmmakers. Page summary: Beginnings: Karl May, Sergio Leone, and Clint Eastwood | Ennio Morricone, Django, and Political Spaghetti Westerns (includes sound clips of Ennio Morricone soundtrack music) | Actors, Actresses, and Settings | Once Upon a Time in the West, the Influence of Spaghetti Westerns on American Westerns, and They Call Me Trinity | Conclusion: Spaghetti Westerns on Television and in Books.
Western Web Links
You want more information about Westerns? Here are the places to go on the Web.
The Great Westerns, a survey of 30 of the best and most influential Westerns, from silent years to the present