A Fistful of Icons

Essays on Frontier Fixtures of the American Western


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About the Book

After a century of reinvention and, frequently, reinterpretation, Western movies continue to contribute to the cultural understanding of the United States. And Western archetypes remain as important emblems of the American experience, relating a complex and coded narrative about heroism and morality, masculinity and femininity, westward expansion and technological progress, and assimilation and settlement. In this collection of new essays, 21 contributors from around the globe examine the “cowboy cool” iconography of film and television Westerns—from bounty hunters in buckskin jackets to denizens of seedy saloons and lonely deserts, from Cecil B. DeMille and John Ford to Steve McQueen and Budd Boetticher, Jr.

Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Sue Matheson is a professor of English at the University College of the North in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Sue Matheson

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 308
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, notes, bibliographies, filmographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9804-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2943-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi

Preface  1

Introduction  3

Performing the Iconic West: Wild West Shows (Cynthia J. Miller)  9

Buckskin Fringe and Cavalier Culture in the Hollywood Western (Sue Matheson)  23

The Urbanized West of Cecil B. DeMille (David Blanke)  36

“They taught us to be men”: Cigarettes, Westerns and (Mostly) John Ford (Richmond B. Adams)  51

The Good Bounty Hunter: Steve McQueen in Wanted: Dead or Alive (Kelly C. MacPhail)  62

Racialized Markers of Gender and Gendered Markers of Race in 1950s Westerns (Deborah L. ­Kitchen-Døderlein)  74

“Mister, this is cattle country”: Livestock and Gender in Western Films (Jim Daems)  86

Ride ’Em Cowboy: Equine Representations in the Western (Stella Hockenhull)  99

Horses for Ladies, ­High-Ridin’ Women and Whores (Maria Cecília de Miranda N. Coelho)  113

The Sexual Signification of the Gun in Western Film (Fran ­Pheasant-Kelly)  124

Rifles and Things in Winchester ’73 (Katherine A. Johnson)  142

The Cowboy Brew: Coffee and Conflict in the Westerns of Budd Boetticher, Jr. (Christopher Minz)  152

Cowboy Accommodations: Plotting the Hotel in Western Film and Television (Monica Montelongo Flores)  166

When Worlds Collide: Town and Country, ­Mise-en-Scène in Have Gun, Will Travel (Robert E. Meyer)  177

Executioner, Judge and Priest: The Desert Sublime in Westerns (Helen M. Lewis)  188

Machines in the Garden: Technology and the Western in the 1960s and 1970s (Martin Holtz)  198

“Dynamite blows two ways”: Dynamite in Western Films (Gilles Chamerois)  213

Trippy Pictures: Iconicizing the American Acid Westerns (Alexander Davis)  231

“Reach for the sky”: Western Iconography, the American Frontier and the Story of Pixar in Toy Story (Ashley Sufflé Robinson)  244

Burying the Past: Cemeteries, Burials and Remembrance in the Western (Andrew Howe)  257

The Four Archetypes of the Three Burials (of Melquiades Estrada) (Wickham Clayton)  271

About the Contributors  285

Index  289