Western (genre)

Western (genre)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Western (genre)'
Start a new discussion about 'Western (genre)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Western is a genre of various visual arts
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

, such as film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

 and others. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

, hence the name. Some Westerns are set as early as the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

 in 1836. There are also a number of films about Western-type characters in contemporary settings, such as Junior Bonner
Junior Bonner
Junior Bonner is a film released in 1972 directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Steve McQueen, Joe Don Baker, Robert Preston and Ida Lupino. The film focuses on a veteran rodeo rider as he returns to his hometown of Prescott, Arizona to participate in an annual rodeo competition and reunite with...

 set in the 1970s and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a 2005 American drama film directed by Tommy Lee Jones and written by Guillermo Arriaga. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cedillo, and Dwight Yoakam....

 in the 21st century.

Westerns often portray how desolate and hard life was for American frontier families. These families are faced with change that would severely alter their way of life. This may be depicted by showing conflict between natives and settlers or U.S. Cavalry or between cattle ranchers and farmers ("sodbusters"), or by showing ranchers being threatened by the onset of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. Despite being tightly associated with a specific time and place in American history, these themes have allowed Westerns to be produced and enjoyed across the world.

Themes



The Western genre sometimes portrays the conquest of the wilderness and the subordination of nature in the name of civilization or the confiscation of the territorial rights of the original inhabitants of the frontier. The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor and personal, direct or private justice (such as the feud
Feud
A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another...

), rather than any rationalistic, abstract law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, in which persons have no social order larger than their immediate peers, family, or perhaps themselves alone. The popular perception of the Western is a story that centers on the life of a semi-nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic wanderer, usually a cowboy
Cowboy
A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of...

 or a gunfighter.

In some ways, such protagonists may be considered the literary descendants of the knight errant which stood at the center of earlier extensive genres such as the Arthurian Romances
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

. Like the cowboy or gunfighter of the Western, the knight errant of the earlier European tales and poetry was wandering from place to place on his horse, fighting villains of various kinds and bound to no fixed social structures but only to his own innate code of honor. And like knights errant, the heroes of Westerns frequently rescue damsels in distress
Damsel in distress
The subject of the damsel in distress, or persecuted maiden, is a classic theme in world literature, art, and film. She is usually a beautiful young woman placed in a dire predicament by a villain or monster and who requires a hero to achieve her rescue. She has become a stock character of fiction,...

. Similarly, the wandering protagonists of Westerns share many of the characteristics equated with the image of the ronin
Ronin
A or rounin was a Bushi with no lord or master during the feudal period of Japan. A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege....

 in modern Japanese culture.

The Western typically takes these elements and uses them to tell simple morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

 tales, although some notable examples (e.g. the later Westerns of John Ford or Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven
Unforgiven
Unforgiven is a 1992 American Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with a screenplay written by David Webb Peoples. The film tells the story of William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had hung up his guns and turned to farming...

) are more morally ambiguous. Westerns often stress the harshness of the wilderness and frequently set the action in an arid, desolate landscape. Specific settings include isolated forts, ranches and homesteads; the Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 village; or the small frontier town with its saloon, general store, livery stable and jailhouse. Apart from the wilderness, it is usually the saloon that emphasizes that this is the "Wild West": it is the place to go for music (raucous piano playing), women (often prostitutes), gambling (draw poker or five card stud), drinking (beer or whiskey), brawling and shooting. In some Westerns, where "civilization" has arrived, the town has a church and a school; in others, where frontier rules still hold sway, it is, as Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter most associated with the "Spaghetti Western" genre.Leone's film-making style includes juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots...

 said, "where life has no value".

Characteristics


The American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 defines western films as those "set in the American West that embod[y] the spirit, the struggle and the demise of the new frontier
Frontier Thesis
The Frontier Thesis, also referred to as the Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience...

." The term Western, used to describe a narrative film genre, appears to have originated with a July 1912 article in Motion Picture World Magazine. Most of the characteristics of Western films were part of 19th century popular Western fiction
Western fiction
Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier and typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey from the early 1900s and Louis L'Amour from the mid 20th century...

 and were firmly in place before film became a popular art form. Western films commonly feature as their protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

s stock characters such as cowboys, gunslingers, and bounty hunters, often depicted as semi-nomadic wanderers who wear Stetson
Stetson
Stetsons are the brand of hat manufactured by the John B. Stetson Company of St. Joseph, Missouri.Stetson eventually became the world’s largest hat maker, producing over 3.3 million hats a year in a factory spread over . Today Stetson remains a family-owned concern...

 hats, bandannas, spur
Spur
A spur is a metal tool designed to be worn in pairs on the heels of riding boots for the purpose of directing a horse to move forward or laterally while riding. It is usually used to refine the riding aids and to back up the natural aids . The spur is used in every equestrian discipline...

s, and buckskins
Buckskins
Buckskins are clothing, usually consisting of a jacket and leggings, made from buckskin, a soft sueded leather from the hide of deer or elk. Buckskins are often trimmed with a fringe — originally a functional detail, to allow the garment to dry faster when it was soaking wet because the fringe...

, use revolver
Revolver
A revolver is a repeating firearm that has a cylinder containing multiple chambers and at least one barrel for firing. The first revolver ever made was built by Elisha Collier in 1818. The percussion cap revolver was invented by Samuel Colt in 1836. This weapon became known as the Colt Paterson...

s or rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

s as everyday tools of survival, and ride between dusty towns and cattle ranches on trusty steeds
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

.

Western films were enormously popular in the silent era although, in common with all films of this period, relatively few of the thousands of silent Westerns made have survived to the present. However, with the advent of sound in 1927-28 the major Hollywood studios rapidly abandoned Westerns, leaving the genre to smaller studios and producers, who churned out countless low-budget features and serials in the 1930s. By the late 1930s the Western film was widely regarded as a 'pulp' genre in Hollywood, but its popularity was dramatically revived in 1939 by the release of John Ford's landmark Western adventure Stagecoach, which became one of the biggest hits of the year and made John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 a major screen star.

Western films often depict conflicts with Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. While early Eurocentric Westerns frequently portray the "Injuns" as dishonorable villains, the later and more culturally neutral Westerns (notably those directed by John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

) gave native Americans a more sympathetic treatment. Other recurring themes of Westerns include Western treks or perilous journeys (e.g. Stagecoach) or groups of bandits terrorising small towns such as in The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven is an American Western film directed by John Sturges, and released in 1960. It is a fictional tale of a group of seven American gunmen who are hired to protect a small agricultural village in Mexico from a group of marauding Mexican bandits...

.


Early Westerns were mostly filmed in the studio, just like other early Hollywood films, but when location shooting became more common from the 1930s, producers of Westerns used desolate corners of Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, or Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

. Productions were also filmed on location at movie ranches.

Often, the vast landscape becomes more than a vivid backdrop; it becomes a character in the film. After the early 1950s, various wide screen formats such as cinemascope
CinemaScope
CinemaScope was an anamorphic lens series used for shooting wide screen movies from 1953 to 1967. Its creation in 1953, by the president of 20th Century-Fox, marked the beginning of the modern anamorphic format in both principal photography and movie projection.The anamorphic lenses theoretically...

 (1953) and VistaVision
VistaVision
VistaVision is a higher resolution, widescreen variant of the 35mm motion picture film format which was created by engineers at Paramount Pictures in 1954....

 used the expanded width of the screen to display spectacular Western landscapes. John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

's use of Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching above the valley floor. It is located on the northern border of Arizona with southern Utah , near the Four Corners area...

 as an expressive landscape in his films from Stagecoach (1939) to Cheyenne Autumn
Cheyenne Autumn
Cheyenne Autumn is a 1964 western starring Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, James Stewart, and Edward G. Robinson. Regarded as an epic film it tells the story of a factual event, the Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878-9, although it is told in 'Hollywood style' using a great degree of artistic license...

 (1965) "present us with a mythic vision of the plains and deserts of the American West, embodied most memorably in Monument Valley, with its buttes and mesas that tower above the men on horseback, whether they be settlers, soldiers, or Native Americans".

Western films, until recent times, had many anachronism
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

s, particularly the firearms. Winchester
Winchester rifle
In common usage, Winchester rifle usually means any of the lever-action rifles manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, though the company has also manufactured many rifles of other action types...

 1892-model rifles were frequently used in films set in the 1870s. Since the late 1960s, however, films have shown more of the wide variety of period-appropriate arms used during the 1870s. For example, Arthur Hunnicutt
Arthur Hunnicutt
Arthur Lee Hunnicutt was an American actor known for his portrayal of wise, grizzled, old rural characters...

 carries a revolving rifle during part of El Dorado (1966) and Lee Van Cleef
Lee Van Cleef
Lee Van Cleef was an American film actor who appeared mostly in Western and action pictures. His sharp features and piercing eyes led to his being cast as a villain in scores of films such as High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Good The Bad and the Ugly.-Early life:Van Cleef was...

 is equipped with a veritable arsenal of frontier firearms in For A Few Dollars More
For a Few Dollars More
For a Few Dollars More is a 1965 Italian spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Gian Maria Volonté. German actor Klaus Kinski also plays a supporting role as a secondary villain...

 (1965).

Subgenres


The Western genre itself has sub-genres, such as the epic Western
Epic Western
The Epic Western is a sub-genre of the Western.An archetypical example is Once Upon a Time in the West, a lengthy revenge epic directed by Sergio Leone and starring Charles Bronson...

, the shoot 'em up
Shoot 'em up
Shoot 'em up is a subgenre of shooter video games. In a shoot 'em up, the player controls a lone character, often in a spacecraft or aircraft, shooting large numbers of enemies while dodging their attacks. The genre in turn encompasses various types or subgenres and critics differ on exactly what...

, singing cowboy
Singing cowboy
A singing cowboy was a subtype of the archetypal cowboy hero of early Western films, popularized by many of the B-movies of the 1930s and 1940s...

 Westerns, and a few comedy Westerns. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Western was re-invented with the revisionist Western
Revisionist Western
The Revisionist Western, Modern Western or Anti-Western traces to the mid 1960s and early 1970s as a sub-genre of the Western movie....

.

Classical Westerns
The first Western film was the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery
The Great Train Robbery (1903 film)
The Great Train Robbery is a 1903 American action Western film by Edwin S. Porter. Twelve minutes long, it is considered a milestone in film making, expanding on Porter's previous work Life of an American Fireman. The film used a number of innovative techniques including cross cutting, double...

, a silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

 directed by Edwin S. Porter
Edwin S. Porter
Edwin Stanton Porter was an American early film pioneer, most famous as a director with Thomas Edison's company...

 and starring Broncho Billy Anderson
Broncho Billy Anderson
Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson was an American actor, writer, film director, and film producer, who is best known as the first star of the Western film genre.-Early life:...

. The film's popularity opened the door for Anderson to become the screen's first cowboy star, making several hundred Western film shorts. So popular was the genre that he soon had competition in the form of William S. Hart
William S. Hart
William Surrey Hart was an American silent film actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He is remembered for having "imbued all of his characters with honor and integrity."-Biography:...

. The Golden Age of the Western film
Golden Age of the Western
The Golden Age of the Western was an era of the Western movie usually identified as starting in the 1930s through the 1950s, though some date it to the 1970s....

 is epitomized by the work of two directors: John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 and Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
Howard Winchester Hawks was an American film director, producer and screenwriter of the classic Hollywood era...

 (both of whom often used John Wayne
John Wayne
Marion Mitchell Morrison , better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. He epitomized rugged masculinity and became an enduring American icon. He is famous for his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height...

 in lead roles).


Northerns
The Northern genre
Northern (genre)
The Northern or Northwestern is an American and Canadian genre in literature and film made popular by the writings of Rex Beach and Zane Grey. It is similar to the Western genre but the action occurs in the Canadian North and typically features Mounties instead of, for example, cowboys or sheriffs...

 is a subgenre of Westerns taking place in Western Canada
Western Canada
Western Canada, also referred to as the Western provinces and commonly as the West, is a region of Canada that includes the four provinces west of the province of Ontario.- Provinces :...

 or Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. Examples include The Far Country
The Far Country
The Far Country is a 1954 American western movie directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart in their fourth western collaboration...

 and North to Alaska
North to Alaska
North to Alaska is a 1960 comedic western movie directed by Henry Hathaway and John Wayne . It starred Wayne along with Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs, Fabian and Capucine....

.


Euro Westerns
This is a colloquial idiom often used to describe Western films made in Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

. The term can sometimes, but not necessarily, include the Spaghetti Western
Spaghetti Western
Spaghetti Western, also known as Italo-Western, is a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone's unique and much copied film-making style and international box-office success, so named by American critics because most were produced and...

 subgenre (see below). One example of a Euro Western is the 1961
1961 in film
The year 1961 in film involved some significant events, with West Side Story winning 10 Academy Awards.-Top grossing films : After theatrical re-issue- Awards :Academy Awards:* Atlantis, the Lost ContinentB...

 Anglo-Spanish film The Savage Guns
Savage Guns (1961 film)
The Savage Guns is a 1961 Eurowestern film, a joint production by the United Kingdom and Spain. Based on a specially commissioned screenplay, The San Siado Killings, written by Peter R...

. Several such films were made in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, derived from stories by novelist Karl May
Karl May
Karl Friedrich May was a popular German writer, noted mainly for adventure novels set in the American Old West, and similar books set in the Orient and Middle East . In addition, he wrote stories set in his native Germany, in China and in South America...

.


Spaghetti Western
Spaghetti Western
Spaghetti Western, also known as Italo-Western, is a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone's unique and much copied film-making style and international box-office success, so named by American critics because most were produced and...

s
During the 1960s and 1970s, a revival of the Western emerged in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 with the "Spaghetti Westerns" or "Italo-Westerns". The most famous of them is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Many of these films are low-budget affairs, shot in locations (for example, the Spanish desert region of Almería
Almería
Almería is a city in Andalusia, Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is the capital of the province of the same name.-Toponym:Tradition says that the name Almería stems from the Arabic المرية Al-Mariyya: "The Mirror", comparing it to "The Mirror of the Sea"...

) chosen for their inexpensive crew and production costs as well as their similarity to landscapes of the Southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

. Spaghetti Westerns were characterized by the presence of more action and violence than the Hollywood Westerns. Also, the protagonists usually acted out of more selfish motives (money or revenge being the most common) than in the classical westerns.

The films directed by Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter most associated with the "Spaghetti Western" genre.Leone's film-making style includes juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots...

 have a parodic
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 dimension (the strange opening scene of Once Upon a Time in the West
Once Upon a Time in the West
Once Upon a Time in the West is a 1968 Italian epic spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone for Paramount Pictures. It stars Henry Fonda cast against type as the villain, Charles Bronson as his nemesis, Jason Robards as a bandit, and Claudia Cardinale as a newly widowed homesteader with a...

 being a reversal of Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann
Fred Zinnemann was an Austrian-American film director. He won four Academy Awards and directed films like High Noon, From Here to Eternity and A Man for All Seasons.-Life and career:...

's High Noon
High Noon
High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film tells in real time the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by himself...

 opening scene) which gave them a different tone to the Hollywood Westerns. Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson
Charles Bronson , born Charles Dennis Buchinsky was an American actor, best-known for such films as Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, Rider on the Rain, The Mechanic, and the popular Death Wish series...

, Lee Van Cleef
Lee Van Cleef
Lee Van Cleef was an American film actor who appeared mostly in Western and action pictures. His sharp features and piercing eyes led to his being cast as a villain in scores of films such as High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Good The Bad and the Ugly.-Early life:Van Cleef was...

 and Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

 became famous by starring in Spaghetti Westerns, although they were also to provide a showcase for other noted actors such as Jason Robards
Jason Robards
Jason Nelson Robards, Jr. was an American actor on stage, and in film and television, and a winner of the Tony Award , two Academy Awards and the Emmy Award...

, James Coburn
James Coburn
James Harrison Coburn III was an American film and television actor. Coburn appeared in nearly 70 films and made over 100 television appearances during his 45-year career, and played a wide range of roles and won an Academy Award for his supporting role as Glen Whitehouse in Affliction.A capable,...

, Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski
Klaus Kinski, born Klaus Günter Karl Nakszynski , was a German actor. He appeared in more than 130 films, and is perhaps best-remembered as a leading role actor in Werner Herzog films: Aguirre, the Wrath of God , Nosferatu the Vampyre , Woyzeck , Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde .-Early...

 and Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

.


Ostern
Ostern
The Ostern or Red Western was the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries' take on the Western.It generally took two forms:...

s
Eastern-European-produced Westerns were popular in Communist Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

an countries, and were a particular favorite of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. "Red Western" or "Ostern
Ostern
The Ostern or Red Western was the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries' take on the Western.It generally took two forms:...

" films usually portrayed the American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 sympathetically, as oppressed people fighting for their rights, in contrast to American Westerns of the time, which frequently portrayed the Indians as villains. They frequently featured Gypsies or Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 people in the role of the Indians, due to the shortage of authentic Indians in Eastern Europe.

Gojko Mitić
Gojko Mitic
Gojko Mitić is a Serbian director, actor, stuntman, and author. He lives in Berlin....

 portrayed righteous, kind hearted and charming Indian chiefs
Tribal chief
A tribal chief is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom. Tribal societies with social stratification under a single leader emerged in the Neolithic period out of earlier tribal structures with little stratification, and they remained prevalent throughout the Iron Age.In the case of ...

 (e.g. in Die Söhne der großen Bärin directed by Josef Mach
Josef Mach
Josef Mach was a Czech actor, screenwriter and film director.Josef Mach worked as a journalist and stage performer at the beginning of his career, then in 1938 was appointed assistant director of short films at Grafo Film Studio working with director Václav Kubásek...

). He became honorary chief of the tribe of Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

 when he visited the United States of America in the 1990s and the television crew accompanying him showed the tribe one of his films. American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 actor and singer Dean Reed
Dean Reed
Dean Cyril Reed was an American actor, singer and songwriter who lived a great part of his adult life in South America and then in communist East Germany.-Life and career:...

, an expatriate who lived in East Germany, also starred in several films.


Revisionist Western
Revisionist Western
The Revisionist Western, Modern Western or Anti-Western traces to the mid 1960s and early 1970s as a sub-genre of the Western movie....

After the early 1960s, many American film-makers began to question and change many traditional elements of Westerns. One major change was in the increasingly positive representation of Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 who had been treated as "savages" in earlier films (Little Big Man
Little Big Man
Little Big Man is a 1970 American Western film directed by Arthur Penn and based on the 1964 comic novel by Thomas Berger. It is a picaresque comedy about a Caucasian boy raised by the Cheyenne nation during the 19th century...

, Dances With Wolves
Dances with Wolves
Dances with Wolves is a 1990 epic western film directed by and starring Kevin Costner. It is a film adaptation of the 1988 book of the same name by Michael Blake and tells the story of a Union Army Lieutenant who travels to the American frontier to find a military post, and his dealings with a...

). Audiences were encouraged to question the simple hero-versus-villain dualism and the morality of using violence to test one's character or to prove oneself right.

Some recent Westerns give women more powerful roles. One of the earlier films that encompasses all these features was the 1956 adventure film The Last Wagon in which Richard Widmark
Richard Widmark
Richard Weedt Widmark was an American film, stage and television actor.He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as the villainous Tommy Udo in his debut film, Kiss of Death...

 played a white man raised by Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

s and persecuted by whites
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

, with Felicia Farr
Felicia Farr
Felicia Farr is a former American actress and model.-Biography:Felicia Farr appeared in several modeling photo shoots and advertisements throughout the 1950s and 1960s...

 and Susan Kohner
Susan Kohner
Susan Kohner is an American actress.-Early life and career:Born as Susanna Kohner in Los Angeles, Kohner is the daughter of Mexican actress Lupita Tovar and Jewish film producer Paul Kohner who was born in Bohemia part of Austria-Hungary...

 playing young women forced into leadership roles. Westward the Women (1951) starring Robert Taylor is another example.


Acid Western
Acid Western
Acid Western is a sub-genre of the Western film that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s that combined the metaphorical ambitions of top-shelf Westerns, like Shane and The Searchers, with the excesses of the Spaghetti Westerns and the outlook of the counter-culture...

Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum
Jonathan Rosenbaum
Jonathan Rosenbaum is an American film critic. Rosenbaum was the head film critic for the Chicago Reader from 1987 until 2008, when he retired at the age of 65...

 refers to a makeshift 1960s and 1970s genre called the acid Western
Acid Western
Acid Western is a sub-genre of the Western film that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s that combined the metaphorical ambitions of top-shelf Westerns, like Shane and The Searchers, with the excesses of the Spaghetti Westerns and the outlook of the counter-culture...

, associated with Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper
Dennis Lee Hopper was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant...

, Jim McBride
Jim McBride
Jim McBride is an American television and film director, film producer and screenwriter.-Filmography:* David Holzman's Diary * My Girlfriend's Wedding...

, and Rudy Wurlitzer
Rudy Wurlitzer
Rudolph "Rudy" Wurlitzer is an American novelist and screenwriter. He is known for his experimental style and has a large cult following for both his novels and screenplays. His fiction includes Nog, Flats, Quake, Slow Fade, and Drop Edge of Yonder...

, as well as films like Monte Hellman
Monte Hellman
Monte Hellman is an American film director, producer, and film editor.Hellman is among a group of directing talent mentored by Roger Corman, who produced several of the director's early films...

's The Shooting
The Shooting
The Shooting is a 1966 western film directed by Monte Hellman, with a screenplay by Carole Eastman . It stars Warren Oates, Millie Perkins, Will Hutchins, and Jack Nicholson, and was produced by Nicholson and Hellman. The story is about two men who are hired by a mysterious woman to accompany her...

, Alejandro Jodorowsky
Alejandro Jodorowsky
Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky, known as Alejandro Jodorowsky, is a Chilean filmmaker, playwright, actor, author, comic book writer and spiritual guru...

's bizarre experimental film El Topo (The Mole), and Robert Downey Sr.
Robert Downey Sr.
Robert John Downey, Sr. is an American actor, writer, and film director, and the father of actor Robert Downey, Jr...

's Greaser's Palace. The 1970 film El Topo is an allegorical
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 cult Western and underground film
Underground film
An underground film is a film that is out of the mainstream either in its style, genre, or financing.-Definition and history:The first use of the term "underground film" occurs in a 1957 essay by American film critic Manny Farber, "Underground Films." Farber uses it to refer to the work of...

 about the eponym
Eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous character, a violent black-clad gunfighter, and his quest for enlightenment
Enlightenment (spiritual)
Enlightenment in a secular context often means the "full comprehension of a situation", but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual...

. The film is filled with bizarre characters and occurrences, use of maimed and dwarf
Dwarfism
Dwarfism is short stature resulting from a medical condition. It is sometimes defined as an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches  , although this definition is problematic because short stature in itself is not a disorder....

 performers, and heavy doses of Christian symbolism
Christian symbolism
Christian symbolism invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas. Christianity has borrowed from the common stock of significant symbols known to most periods and to all regions of the world. Religious symbolism is effective when it appeals to both the intellect and...

 and Eastern philosophy
Eastern philosophy
Eastern philosophy includes the various philosophies of Asia, including Chinese philosophy, Iranian philosophy, Japanese philosophy, Indian philosophy and Korean philosophy...

. Some spaghettis also crossed over into the acid genre, such as Enzo G. Castellari
Enzo G. Castellari
Enzo G. Castellari is an Italian film director. He became famous during the 1960s by directing several spaghetti westerns with such titles as Go Kill and Come Back Enzo G. Castellari (born July 29, 1938) is an Italian film director. He became famous during the 1960s by directing several spaghetti...

's mystical Keoma (released in 1976), a Western reworking of Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman
Ernst Ingmar Bergman was a Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. Described by Woody Allen as "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera", he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and...

's metaphysical The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal
The Seventh Seal is a 1957 Swedish film written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Set during the Black Death, it tells of the journey of a medieval knight and a game of chess he plays with the personification of Death , who has come to take his life. Bergman developed the film from his own play...

.

More recent films include Alex Cox
Alex Cox
Alexander Cox is a British film director, screenwriter, nonfiction author and sometime actor, notable for his idiosyncratic style and approach to scripts...

's Walker
Walker (film)
Walker is a 1987 Acid Western film directed by Alex Cox. The film based on the life story of William Walker , the American filibuster who invaded Mexico in the 1850s and made himself President of Nicaragua shortly thereafter. It was written by Rudy Wurlitzer and scored by Joe Strummer, who also...

, and Jim Jarmusch
Jim Jarmusch
James R. "Jim" Jarmusch is an American independent film director, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor and composer. Jarmusch has been a major proponent of independent cinema, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s.-Early life:...

's Dead Man
Dead Man
Dead Man is a 1995 American Western film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop, Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Michael Wincott, Lance Henriksen, and Robert Mitchum . The film, dubbed an "Acid Western" by its director, includes twisted...

. Rosenbaum describes the "acid Western" as "formulating a chilling, savage frontier poetry to justify its hallucinated agenda." Ultimately, the "acid Western" expresses a counterculture sensibility to critique and replace capitalism with alternative forms of exchange.

Contemporary Westerns
Although these films have contemporary American settings, they utilize Old West themes and motifs (a rebellious anti-hero, open plains and desert landscapes, and gunfights). For the most part, they still take place in the American West and reveal the progression of the Old West mentality into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This sub-genre often features Old West-type characters struggling with displacement in a "civilized" world that rejects their outdated brand of justice.

Examples include Hud
Hud (film)
Hud is a 1963 western film whose title character is an embittered and selfish modern-day cowboy. With screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., based on Larry McMurtry's 1961 novel Horseman, Pass By, it was directed by Martin Ritt and stars Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas, Patricia Neal and...

 starring Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

 (1963); Sam Peckinpah
Sam Peckinpah
David Samuel "Sam" Peckinpah was an American filmmaker and screenwriter who achieved prominence following the release of the Western epic The Wild Bunch...

's The Getaway
The Getaway (1972 film)
The Getaway is a 1972 American action-crime film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw.The film is based on a novel by Jim Thompson, with the screenplay written by Walter Hill...

 (1972) and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is a 1974 American action film directed by Sam Peckinpah and featuring Warren Oates....

 (1974); Robert Rodríguez
Robert Rodriguez
Robert Anthony Rodríguez is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician. He shoots and produces many of his films in his native Texas and Mexico. He has directed such films as Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, The Faculty, Spy Kids, Sin City, Planet...

's El Mariachi
El Mariachi
El Mariachi is a 1992 Mexican-American action film that is the debut of writer/director Robert Rodriguez. The Spanish language film was shot in the northern Mexican bordertown of Ciudad Acuña with a mainly amateur cast...

 (1992); John Sayles
John Sayles
John Thomas Sayles is an American independent film director, screenwriter and author.-Early life:Sayles was born in Schenectady, New York, the son of Mary , a teacher, and Donald John Sayles, a school administrator. He was raised Catholic and took to labeling himself "a Catholic atheist"...

' Lone Star
Lone Star (1996 film)
Lone Star is an American mystery film written and directed by John Sayles and set in a small town in Texas. It features Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Peña, Kris Kristofferson and Matthew McConaughey and deals with a sheriff's investigation into who murdered one of his predecessors.-Plot:In this ensemble...

 (1996); Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones is an American actor and film director. He has received three Academy Award nominations, winning one as Best Supporting Actor for the 1993 thriller film The Fugitive....

' The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a 2005 American drama film directed by Tommy Lee Jones and written by Guillermo Arriaga. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cedillo, and Dwight Yoakam....

 (2005); Ang Lee
Ang Lee
Ang Lee is a Taiwanese film director. Lee has directed a diverse set of films such as Eat Drink Man Woman , Sense and Sensibility , Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon , Hulk , and Brokeback Mountain , for which he won an Academy...

's Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a film adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx with the screenplay written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry...

 (2005); Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders
Ernst Wilhelm "Wim" Wenders is a German film director, playwright, author, photographer and producer.-Early life:Wenders was born in Düsseldorf. He graduated from high school in Oberhausen in the Ruhr area. He then studied medicine and philosophy in Freiburg and Düsseldorf...

' Don't Come Knocking
Don't Come Knocking
Don't Come Knocking is a 2005 film, a comedy-drama road movie directed by German director Wim Wenders and written by Wenders and actor/playwright Sam Shepard. The two had previously collaborated on the film Paris, Texas...

 (2005); and the Coen brothers
Coen Brothers
Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen known together professionally as the Coen brothers, are American filmmakers...

 Academy Award–winning No Country For Old Men
No Country for Old Men (film)
No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American crime thriller directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. The film was adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name...

 (2007).


Science fiction Western
Science fiction Western
A science fiction Western is a work of fiction which has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. It is different from a Space Western, which is a frontier story indicative of American Westerns, except transposed to a backdrop of space exploration and settlement.A science fiction Western...

This subgenre places science fiction elements within a traditional terran Western setting. Examples include Wild, Wild West, Westworld
Westworld
Westworld is a 1973 science fiction-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as a lifelike robot in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as guests of the park.Westworld was the...

, its sequel Futureworld
Futureworld
Futureworld is a 1976 sequel to the 1973 science fiction film Westworld. It was written by George Schenk and Mayo Simon, and directed by Richard T. Heffron. The cast included Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, and Arthur Hill. There is also a cameo appearance by Yul Brynner in a dream sequence...

, Cowboys & Aliens
Cowboys & Aliens (film)
Cowboys & Aliens is a 2011 American science fiction Western film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde. The film is based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg...

, and the hybrid film Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter
Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter is a low-budget western/horror hybrid film filmed in 1966, in which a fictionalized version of the real-life western outlaw Jesse James encounters the fictional granddaughter of the famous Dr. Frankenstein. The film was originally released as part of a...



Space Western
Space western
Space Western is a subgenre of science fiction, primarily grounded in film and television programming, that transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers; it is the complement of the science fiction Western, which transposes science fiction themes...

Unlike the science fiction Western
Science fiction Western
A science fiction Western is a work of fiction which has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. It is different from a Space Western, which is a frontier story indicative of American Westerns, except transposed to a backdrop of space exploration and settlement.A science fiction Western...

, the space Western transposes traditional genre themes onto a space frontier backdrop, updating them with futuristic technologies. Examples include Bravestarr
Bravestarr
BraveStarr is an American space Western animated television series. The original episodes aired from September 1987 to February 1988 in syndication. It was created simultaneously with a collection of action figures. BraveStarr was the last animated series produced by Filmation and Group W...

, Outland
Outland (film)
Outland is a 1981 British science fiction thriller film written and directed by Peter Hyams.Set on Jupiter's moon Io, it has been described as a space Western, and bears thematic resemblances to High Noon....

, and Firefly
Firefly (TV series)
Firefly is an American space western television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear....

 (as well as the film Serenity
Serenity (film)
Serenity is a 2005 space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is a continuation of the short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly, taking place after the events of the final episode. Set in 2518, Serenity is the story of the captain and crew of a cargo ship...

 based on Firefly).


Curry Western
Spaghetti Westerns laid the groundwork for Sholay
Sholay
Sholay is a 1975 Indian action-adventure film produced by G.P. Sippy and directed by his son Ramesh Sippy. It is considered among the greatest films in the history of Indian cinema. Released on 15 August 1975, it stars Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, Jaya Bhaduri and...

, the first in a line of Westerns made in India, called Curry Westerns.


Horror Western
A developing sub-genre, with roots in films such as Billy the Kid vs. Dracula
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula is a 1966 American low-budget horror/western film directed by William Beaudine. It was released theatrically as part of a double bill, along with Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter...

 (1966), which depicts the legendary outlaw Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
William H. Bonney William H. Bonney William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr. est. November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881, better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier...

 fighting against the notorious vampire. The Ghoul Goes West was an unproduced Edward D. Wood, Jr. film to star Bela Lugosi
Béla Lugosi
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó , commonly known as Bela Lugosi, was a Hungarian actor of stage and screen. He was best known for having played Count Dracula in the Broadway play and subsequent film version, as well as having starred in several of Ed Wood's low budget films in the last years of his...

 as Dracula
Dracula
Dracula is an 1897 novel by Irish author Bram Stoker.Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula's attempt to relocate from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor...

 in the Old West.

The 2008 film The Burrowers
The Burrowers
The Burrowers is a 2008 horror/thriller film with a Western theme. The film is based on a seven-part television series from director JT Petty.-Plot:...

 is a recent example of the genre: a posse sets out to look for a band of Indians believed to have abducted several white women, only to discover that what they are hunting may not be human and that they in fact may be the prey. The Red Dead Redemption downloadable content "Undead Nightmare
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare is the fifth downloadable content pack released for Red Dead Redemption. It was released for the PlayStation 3 and for Xbox 360 on October 26, 2010...

" is an example of a Horror Western video game. The movie Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
Tremors 4: The Legend Begins
Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is a 2004 straight to video movie, that premiered January 2, 2004 on the Sci-Fi channel. It is the fourth film in the Tremors series of monster films. It is a prequel to the earlier movies.-Plot:...

 is also an example.


Weird Western
This subgenre blends elements of a classic Western with other elements. The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West is an American television series that ran on CBS for four seasons from September 17, 1965 to April 4, 1969....

 and its later film adaptation blends the Western with steampunk
Steampunk
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United...

 and Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex
Jonah Woodson Hex is a Western comic book antihero created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga and published by DC Comics. Hex is a surly and cynical bounty hunter whose face is horribly scarred on the right side. Despite his poor reputation and personality, Hex is bound by a personal...

 blends the Western with superhero elements. This subgenre can encompass others, such as the Horror Western and the Science Fiction Western, e.g. Firefly (see above).

Genre studies


In the 1960s academic and critical attention to cinema as a legitimate art form emerged. American Westerns of the mid 20th Century romanticize the ideas of loyalty and virtue. Westerns of the late 20th Century possess a more negative view of the early American frontier. With the increased attention, film theory
Film theory
Film theory is an academic discipline that aims to explore the essence of the cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large...

 was developed to attempt to understand the significance of film. From this environment emerged (in conjunction with the literary movement) an enclave of critical studies called genre studies
Genre studies
Genre studies are a structuralist approach to literary theory, film theory, and other cultural theories. The study of a genre in this way examines the structural elements that combine in the telling of a story and finds patterns in collections of stories...

. This was primarily a semantic and structuralist approach to understanding how similar films convey meaning.

One of the results of genre studies is that some have argued that "Westerns" need not take place in the American West or even in the 19th century, as the codes can be found in other types of films. For example, a very typical Western plot is that an eastern lawman heads west, where he matches wits and trades bullets with a gang of outlaws and thugs, and is aided by a local lawman who is well-meaning but largely ineffective until a critical moment when he redeems himself by saving the hero's life. This description can be used to describe any number of Westerns, but also other films such as Die Hard
Die Hard
Die Hard is a 1988 American action film and the first in the Die Hard film series. The film was directed by John McTiernan and written by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza. It is based on a 1979 novel by Roderick Thorp titled Nothing Lasts Forever, itself a sequel to the book The Detective, which...

, Top Gun
Top Gun
Top Gun may refer to:* Top Gun is a 1986 film starring Tom Cruise.**Top Gun , soundtrack to the movie**Top Gun , a number of games based on the movie...

, and Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
was a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 filmsIn 1946, Kurosawa co-directed, with Hideo Sekigawa and Kajiro Yamamoto, the feature Those Who Make Tomorrow ;...

's Seven Samurai which are frequently cited examples of films that do not take place in the American West but have many themes and characteristics common to Westerns. Likewise, films set in the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 may not necessarily be considered "Westerns."

Influences


Many Western films after the mid-1950s were influenced by the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 films of Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
was a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter and editor. Regarded as one of the most important and influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, Kurosawa directed 30 filmsIn 1946, Kurosawa co-directed, with Hideo Sekigawa and Kajiro Yamamoto, the feature Those Who Make Tomorrow ;...

. For instance The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven is an American Western film directed by John Sturges, and released in 1960. It is a fictional tale of a group of seven American gunmen who are hired to protect a small agricultural village in Mexico from a group of marauding Mexican bandits...

 was a remake of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, and A Fistful of Dollars
A Fistful of Dollars
A Fistful of Dollars is a 1964 Italian Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood alongside Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp, José Calvo, Antonio Prieto, and Joseph Egger. Released in Italy in 1964 then in the United States in...

 was a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which itself was inspired by Red Harvest
Red Harvest
Red Harvest is a novel by Dashiell Hammett. The story is narrated by The Continental Op, a frequent character in Hammett's fiction. Hammett based the story on his own experiences in Butte, Montana as an operative of the Continental Detective Agency, San Francisco.Time included Red Harvest in its...

, an American detective novel by Dashiell Hammett
Dashiell Hammett
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was an American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade , Nick and Nora Charles , and the Continental Op .In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on...

. Kurosawa was influenced by American Westerns and was a fan of the genre, most especially John Ford.

Despite the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the Western was a strong influence on Eastern Bloc cinema, which had its own take on the genre, the so called "Red Western" or "Ostern". Generally these took two forms: either straight Westerns shot in the Eastern Bloc, or action films involving the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and civil war
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 and the Basmachi rebellion.

An offshoot of the Western genre is the "post-apocalyptic" Western, in which a future society, struggling to rebuild after a major catastrophe, is portrayed in a manner very similar to the 19th century frontier. Examples include The Postman
The Postman (film)
The Postman is an American post-apocalyptic epic film based on the 1985 novel of the same name by David Brin. It was filmed in northeastern Washington , Fidalgo Island, Washington, central Oregon and Tucson, Arizona, and was directed by Kevin Costner, who also stars in the film...

 and the Mad Max
Mad Max
Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopian action film directed by George Miller and revised by Miller and Byron Kennedy over the original script by James McCausland. The film stars Mel Gibson, who was unknown at the time. Its narrative based around the traditional western genre, Mad Max tells a story...

 series, and the computer game series Fallout. Many elements of space travel series and films borrow extensively from the conventions of the Western genre. This is particularly the case in the space Western
Space western
Space Western is a subgenre of science fiction, primarily grounded in film and television programming, that transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers; it is the complement of the science fiction Western, which transposes science fiction themes...

 subgenre of science fiction. Peter Hyams' Outland
Outland (film)
Outland is a 1981 British science fiction thriller film written and directed by Peter Hyams.Set on Jupiter's moon Io, it has been described as a space Western, and bears thematic resemblances to High Noon....

 transferred the plot of High Noon
High Noon
High Noon is a 1952 American Western film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. The film tells in real time the story of a town marshal forced to face a gang of killers by himself...

 to Io, moon of Jupiter. Gene Roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry
Eugene Wesley "Gene" Roddenberry was an American television screenwriter, producer and futurist, best known for creating the American science fiction series Star Trek. Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, California where his father worked as a police officer...

, the creator of the Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

 series, pitched his show as "Wagon Train to the stars" early on, but admitted later that this was more about getting it produced in a time that loved Western-themed TV series than about its actual content. The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli is a 2010 American post-apocalyptic action film directed by the Hughes brothers, written by Gary Whitta, and starring Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson and Jennifer Beals....

 depicts the post apocalypse as a Western with large knives.

More recently, the space opera
Space opera
Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The term has no relation to music and it is analogous to "soap...

 series Firefly
Firefly (TV series)
Firefly is an American space western television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear....

 used an explicitly Western theme for its portrayal of frontier worlds. Anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

 shows like Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop
is a critically acclaimed and award-winning 1998 Japanese anime series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, written by Keiko Nobumoto, and produced by Sunrise. Its 26 episodes comprise a complete storyline: set in 2071, the series follows the adventures, misadventures and tragedies of five bounty...

, Trigun
Trigun
is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yasuhiro Nightow, published from 1996 to 2008 and spanning 17 collected volumes....

 and Outlaw Star
Outlaw Star
is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Takehiko Itō and his affiliated Morning Star Studio. The series is a space opera/Space Western that takes place in the "Toward Stars Era" universe in which spacecraft are capable of traveling faster than the speed of light...

 have been similar mixes of science fiction and Western elements. The science fiction Western
Science fiction Western
A science fiction Western is a work of fiction which has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. It is different from a Space Western, which is a frontier story indicative of American Westerns, except transposed to a backdrop of space exploration and settlement.A science fiction Western...

 can be seen as a subgenre of either Westerns or science fiction. Elements of Western films can be found also in some films belonging essentially to other genres. For example, Kelly's Heroes
Kelly's Heroes
Kelly's Heroes is an offbeat 1970 comedy/war film about a group of World War II soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines. Directed by Brian G...

 is a war film, but action and characters are Western-like. The British film Zulu
Zulu (film)
Zulu is a 1964 historical war film depicting the Battle of Rorke's Drift between the British Army and the Zulus in January 1879, during the Anglo-Zulu War....

 set during the Anglo-Zulu War
Anglo-Zulu War
The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom.Following the imperialist scheme by which Lord Carnarvon had successfully brought about federation in Canada, it was thought that a similar plan might succeed with the various African kingdoms, tribal areas and...

 has sometimes been compared to a Western, even though it is set in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

.

The character played by Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

 in film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 films such as Casablanca
Casablanca (film)
Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid, and featuring Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre and Dooley Wilson. Set during World War II, it focuses on a man torn between, in...

, To Have and Have Not
To Have and Have Not (film)
To Have and Have Not is a 1944 romance-war-adventure film. The movie was directed by Howard Hawks and stars Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, and Lauren Bacall in her first film...

 or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (film)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American film written and directed by John Huston, a feature film adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, in which two Americans Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin during the 1920s in Mexico join with an old-timer, Howard , to prospect for gold...

—an individual bound only by his own private code of honor—has a lot in common with the classic Western hero. In turn, the Western, has also explored noir elements, as with the film Sugar Creek.

In many of Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

's books, the settlement of other planets is depicted in ways explicitly modeled on American settlement of the West. For example, in his Tunnel in the Sky
Tunnel in the Sky
Tunnel in the Sky is a science fiction book written by Robert A. Heinlein and published in 1955 by Scribner's as one of the Heinlein juveniles. The story describes a group of students sent on a survival test to an uninhabited planet...

 settlers set out to the planet "New Canaan", via an interstellar teleporter
Interstellar teleporter
An interstellar teleporter is a hypothetical technology appearing in science fiction, typically in hard sci-fi, which teleports people and/or other objects over interstellar distances instantaneously...

 portal across the galaxy, in Conestoga wagon
Conestoga wagon
The Conestoga wagon is a heavy, broad-wheeled covered wagon that was used extensively during the late 18th century and the 19th century in the United States and sometimes in Canada as well. It was large enough to transport loads up to 8 tons , and was drawn by horses, mules or oxen...

s, their captain sporting mustaches and a little goatee and riding a Palomino
Palomino
Palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Genetically, the palomino color is created by a single allele of a dilution gene called the cream gene working on a "red" base coat...

 horse—with Heinlein explaining that the colonists would need to survive on their own for some years, so horses are more practical than machines.

Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

's The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower (series)
The Dark Tower is a series of books written by American author Stephen King, which incorporates themes from multiple genres, including fantasy, science fantasy, horror and western. It describes a "Gunslinger" and his quest toward a tower, the nature of which is both physical and metaphorical. King...

 is a series of seven books that meshes themes of Westerns, high fantasy
High fantasy
High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose major fantasy works were published in the 1950s...

, science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 and horror
Horror fiction
Horror fiction also Horror fantasy is a philosophy of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten its readers, inducing feelings of horror and terror. It creates an eerie atmosphere. Horror can be either supernatural or non-supernatural...

. The protagonist Roland Deschain is a gunslinger whose image and personality are largely inspired by the "Man with No Name
Man with No Name
The man with no name is a stock character in Western films, but the term usually applies specifically to the character played by Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy."...

" from Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone
Sergio Leone was an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter most associated with the "Spaghetti Western" genre.Leone's film-making style includes juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots...

's films. In addition, the superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

 fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 genre has been described as having been derived from the cowboy hero, only powered up to omnipotence in a primarily urban setting. The Western genre has been parodied on a number of occasions, famous examples being Support Your Local Sheriff!
Support Your Local Sheriff!
Support Your Local Sheriff! is a 1969 American comic western film which parodies the often-filmed scenario of an iconoclastic new arrival who tames a lawless frontier town...

, Cat Ballou
Cat Ballou
Cat Ballou is a 1965 comedy/Western film which tells the story of a woman who hires a famous gunman to protect her father's ranch, and later to avenge his murder, but finds that the man she hires is not what she expected...

, Mel Brooks's
Mel Brooks
Mel Brooks is an American film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor and producer. He is best known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. He began his career as a stand-up comic and as a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows...

 Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles is a 1974 satirical Western comedy film directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder, the film was written by Brooks, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg, and Al Uger, and was based on Bergman's story and draft. The movie was nominated for three...

, and Rustler's Rhapsody.

George Lucas
George Lucas
George Walton Lucas, Jr. is an American film producer, screenwriter, and director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of the space opera franchise Star Wars and the archaeologist-adventurer character Indiana Jones...

's Star Wars
Star Wars
Star Wars is an American epic space opera film series created by George Lucas. The first film in the series was originally released on May 25, 1977, under the title Star Wars, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, followed by two sequels, released at three-year...

 films use many elements of a Western, and Lucas has said he intended for Star Wars to revitalize cinematic mythology, a part the Western once held. The Jedi
Jedi
The Jedi are characters in the Star Wars universe and the series's main protagonists. The Jedi use a power called the Force and weapons called lightsabers, which emit a controlled energy flow in the shape of a sword, in order to serve and protect the Republic and the galaxy at large from conflict...

, who take their name from Jidaigeki
Jidaigeki
is a genre of film, television, and theatre in Japan. The name means "period drama" and is usually the Edo period of Japanese history, from 1603 to 1868. Some, however, are set much earlier—Portrait of Hell, for example, is set during the late Heian period—and the early Meiji era is also a popular...

, are modeled after samurai, showing the influence of Kurosawa. The character Han Solo
Han Solo
Han Solo is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise played by Harrison Ford. Introduced in the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope , Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot, Chewbacca , become involved in the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire...

 dressed like an archetypal gunslinger, and the Mos Eisley Cantina
Mos Eisley Cantina
The Chalmun's Cantina is a fictional bar of the Star Wars universe located in the "pirate city" of Mos Eisley on the planet Tatooine...

 is much like an Old West saloon.

Meanwhile, films such as The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski is a 1998 comedy film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Jeff Bridges stars as Jeff Lebowski, an unemployed Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler, who is referred to as "The Dude". After a case of mistaken identity, The Dude is introduced to a millionaire also named...

, which plucked actor Sam Elliott out of the Old West and into a Los Angeles bowling alley, and Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy
Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the 1965 novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. It was written by Waldo Salt, directed by John Schlesinger, and stars Dustin Hoffman and newcomer Jon Voight in the title role. Notable smaller roles are filled by Sylvia Miles, John...

, about a Southern-boy-turned-gigolo in New York, transplanted Western themes into modern settings for both purposes of parody and homage.

Television


Television Westerns
Television Westerns
Television Westerns are a sub-genre of the Western, a genre of film, fiction, drama, television programming, etc., in which stories are set primarily in the later half of the 19th century in the American Old West, Western Canada and Mexico during the period from about 1860 to the end of the...

 are a sub-genre of the Western. When television became popular in the late 1940s and 1950s, TV Westerns quickly became an audience favorite. Beginning with re-broadcasts of existing films soon a number of movie cowboys had their own TV shows. As the Western became more in demand new stories and stars were introduced. A number of long-running TV Westerns became classics in their own right. Notable TV Westerns include Bonanza
Bonanza
Bonanza is an American western television series that both ran on and was a production of NBC from September 12, 1959 to January 16, 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series and still continues to air in syndication. It centers on the...

, Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West....

,The Rifleman
The Rifleman
The Rifleman is an American Western television program that starred Chuck Connors as homesteader Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son, Mark McCain. It was set in the 1880s in the town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory. The show, filmed in black-and-white with a half hour running time, ran...

, Have Gun – Will Travel, Maverick
Maverick (TV series)
Maverick is a western television series with comedic overtones created by Roy Huggins. The show ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962 on ABC and stars James Garner as Bret Maverick, a cagey, articulate cardsharp. Eight episodes into the first season, he was joined by Jack Kelly as his brother...

, Rawhide
Rawhide (TV series)
Rawhide is an American Western series that aired for eight seasons on the CBS network on Friday nights, from January 9, 1959 to September 3, 1965, before moving to Tuesday nights from September 14, 1965 until January 4, 1966, with a total of 217 black-and-white episodes...

, The Virginian
The Virginian (TV series)
The Virginian is an American Western television series starring James Drury and Doug McClure, which aired on NBC from 1962 to 1971 for a total of 249 episodes. Filmed in color, The Virginian became television's first 90-minute western series...

, and Wagon Train
Wagon Train
Wagon Train is an American Western series that ran on NBC from 1957–62 and then on ABC from 1962–65...

.

The peak year for television Westerns was 1959, with 26 such shows airing during prime-time. Increasing costs of American television production led to most action half hour series vanishing in the early 1960s to be replaced by hour long television shows, increasingly in color. In the 1970s, new elements were incorporated into TV Westerns, such as crime drama and mystery whodunit elements. Western shows from the 1970s included McCloud, Hec Ramsey
Hec Ramsey
Hec Ramsey is a television Western, a production of Jack Webb's production company, Mark VII Limited, in association with Universal Studios, broadcast in the United States by NBC as part of the NBC Mystery Movie wheel show during the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.-Overview:This series was...

, Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie (TV series)
Little House on the Prairie is an American Western drama television series, starring Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert, about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the 1870s and 1880s. The show was an adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder's best-selling series of Little House books...

, and Kung Fu
Kung Fu (TV series)
Kung Fu is an American television series that starred David Carradine. It was created by Ed Spielman, directed and produced by Jerry Thorpe, and developed by Herman Miller, who was also a writer for, and co-producer of, the series...

. In the 1990s and 2000s, hour-long Westerns and slickly packaged made-for-TV movie Westerns were introduced. Examples include Lonesome Dove
Lonesome Dove (film)
Lonesome Dove is a western television miniseries based on Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, Lonesome Dove was originally broadcast by CBS on February 5, 1989, drawing a huge viewing audience, earning numerous awards, and...

 and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is an American post-Civil War western/drama series created by Beth Sullivan. Dr. Michaela "Mike" Quinn, played by Jane Seymour, left Boston in search of adventure. She goes to Colorado Springs, Colorado where she establishes herself as doctor/adviser.The show ran on CBS...

. As well, new elements were once again added to the Western formula, such as the Western-science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 show Firefly
Firefly (TV series)
Firefly is an American space western television series created by writer and director Joss Whedon, under his Mutant Enemy Productions label. Whedon served as executive producer, along with Tim Minear....

, created by Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon
Joseph Hill "Joss" Whedon is an American screenwriter, executive producer, director, comic book writer, occasional composer and actor, founder of Mutant Enemy Productions and co-creator of Bellwether Pictures...

 in 2002. Deadwood
Deadwood (TV series)
Deadwood is an American Western drama television series created, produced and largely written by David Milch. The series aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, spanning three 12-episode seasons. The show is set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, before...

 was a critically acclaimed Western series which aired on HBO from 2004 through 2006.

Literature



Western fiction
Western fiction
Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier and typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey from the early 1900s and Louis L'Amour from the mid 20th century...

 is a genre of literature set in the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

 and most commonly between the years of 1860 and 1900. The first critically recognized Western was The Virginian
The Virginian (novel)
This page is about the novel, for other uses see The Virginian .The Virginian is a pioneering 1902 novel set in the Wild West by the American author Owen Wister...

 by Owen Wister. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey
Zane Grey
Zane Grey was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the Old West. Riders of the Purple Sage was his bestselling book. In addition to the success of his printed works, they later had second lives and continuing influence...

 from the early 1900s and Louis L'Amour
Louis L'Amour
Louis Dearborn L'Amour was an American author. His books consisted primarily of Western fiction novels , however he also wrote historical fiction , science fiction , nonfiction , as well as poetry and short-story collections. Many of his stories were made into movies...

 from the mid 20th century. Many writers better known in other genres like Elmore Leonard
Elmore Leonard
Elmore John Leonard Jr. , better known as Elmore Leonard, is an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.Among his...

, Leigh Brackett
Leigh Brackett
Leigh Douglass Brackett was an American author, particularly of science fiction. She was also a screenwriter, known for her work on famous films such as The Big Sleep , Rio Bravo , The Long Goodbye and The Empire Strikes Back .-Life:Leigh Brackett was born and grew up in Los Angeles, California...

, and Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry
Larry Jeff McMurtry is an American novelist, essayist, bookseller and screenwriter whose work is predominantly set in either the old West or in contemporary Texas...

 have also written Western novels The genre's popularity peaked in the 1960s, due in part to the end of many pulp magazines, the popularity of televised Westerns
Television Westerns
Television Westerns are a sub-genre of the Western, a genre of film, fiction, drama, television programming, etc., in which stories are set primarily in the later half of the 19th century in the American Old West, Western Canada and Mexico during the period from about 1860 to the end of the...

, and the rise of the spy novel. Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s and has reached a new low in the 2000s. Most book stores, outside of a few Western states, only carry a small number of Western novels and short story collections.

Literary forms that share similar themes include stories of the American frontier, the gaucho literature of Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and tales of the settlement of the Australian Outback.

Visual art



A number of visual artists focused their work on representations of the American Old West
American Old West
The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

. American West-oriented art is sometimes referred to as "Western Art" by Americans. This relatively new category of art includes paintings, sculptures and sometimes Native American crafts. Initially, subjects included exploration of the Western states and cowboy themes. Frederic Remington
Frederic Remington
Frederic Sackrider Remington was an American painter, illustrator, sculptor, and writer who specialized in depictions of the Old American West, specifically concentrating on the last quarter of the 19th century American West and images of cowboys, American Indians, and the U. S...

 and Charles M. Russell are two artists who captured the "Wild West" on canvas. Some art museums and art collectors feature American Western Art.

Other media


The Western is popular in comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

s, computer and video games, anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

, role-playing game
Role-playing game
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making or character development...

s, and radio drama
Radio drama
Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance, broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story...

s.

Western comics
Western comics
Western comics is a comics genre usually depicting the American Old West frontier and typically set during the late nineteenth century...

 have included serious entries (such as the classic comics of the late 1940s and early 1950s), and cartoon and parody (such as Lucky Luke
Lucky Luke
Lucky Luke is a Belgian comics series created by Belgian cartoonist, Maurice De Bevere better known as Morris, the original artist, and was for one period written by René Goscinny...

 and Cocco Bill
Cocco Bill
Cocco Bill is an Italian comics character by Benito Jacovitti. He is the star of a parody Western comic set in hypothetical places in the Far West. He is a hot-tempered gunslinger who drinks chamomile tea. Occasionally mocked for this, Bill responds with violence...

). In the 1990s and 2000s, the Western comic leaned toward the Weird West
Weird West
Weird West is used to describe a combination of the Western with another literary genre, usually horror, occult, or fantasy.DC's Weird Western Tales appeared in the early 1970s and the weird Western was further popularized by Joe R...

 sub-genre, usually involving supernatural monsters, or Christian iconography as in Preacher
Preacher (comics)
Preacher is a comic book series created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, published by the American comic book label Vertigo , with painted covers by Glenn Fabry....

. However, more traditional western comics are found throughout this period, from Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex
Jonah Woodson Hex is a Western comic book antihero created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga and published by DC Comics. Hex is a surly and cynical bounty hunter whose face is horribly scarred on the right side. Despite his poor reputation and personality, Hex is bound by a personal...

 to Loveless.

With anime, genre entries tend towards the Science Fiction Western (Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop
is a critically acclaimed and award-winning 1998 Japanese anime series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, written by Keiko Nobumoto, and produced by Sunrise. Its 26 episodes comprise a complete storyline: set in 2071, the series follows the adventures, misadventures and tragedies of five bounty...

, Trigun
Trigun
is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yasuhiro Nightow, published from 1996 to 2008 and spanning 17 collected volumes....

, Outlaw Star
Outlaw Star
is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Takehiko Itō and his affiliated Morning Star Studio. The series is a space opera/Space Western that takes place in the "Toward Stars Era" universe in which spacecraft are capable of traveling faster than the speed of light...

, etc.) although contemporary Westerns also appear (El Cazador de la Bruja
El Cazador de la Bruja
, is an anime television series directed by Kōichi Mashimo and animated by Bee Train studio. It is a spiritual successor of Noir and Madlax and the final installment of Bee Train's "girls-with-guns" trilogy. The series was aired on TV Tokyo from April to September in 2007...

, set in modern day Mexico).

Western computer games are often either straight Western or a Western-horror hybrid. Some Western themed-computer games include the 1970s game The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail (computer game)
The Oregon Trail is a computer game originally developed by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger in 1971 and produced by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium in 1974. The original game was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life...

, the 1990s games Sunset Riders
Sunset Riders
is a side-scrolling run-and-gun style shoot-'em-up released by Konami as a coin-operated video game in . The game is set during the American Old West, where the player takes control of a bounty hunter who is seeking the rewards offered for various criminals. The coin-op version was released in two...

, Outlaws, and the 2000s-era Gun, Red Dead Revolver
Red Dead Revolver
Red Dead Revolver is a western third-person shooter video game published by Rockstar Games and developed by Rockstar San Diego. It was released in North America on May 4, 2004, for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox....

, Red Dead Redemption and Call of Juarez
Call of Juarez
Call of Juarez is a Western-themed first-person shooter from the Polish developer Techland. First released for Windows in E3 2005, it was ported to the Xbox 360 in 2007. The PC version is one of the first games to use Microsoft's DirectX 10...

. Other video games adapt the Science Fiction Western
Science fiction Western
A science fiction Western is a work of fiction which has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. It is different from a Space Western, which is a frontier story indicative of American Westerns, except transposed to a backdrop of space exploration and settlement.A science fiction Western...

 or Weird West subgenres (Gunman Chronicles
Gunman Chronicles
Gunman Chronicles or Half-Life: Gunman is a futuristic first-person shooter video game originally created as a mod by the now defunct Rewolf Software. Gunman Chronicles was originally a Quake deathmatch mod named Gunmanship 101, then it was moved to Quake II's engine before becoming a Half-Life mod...

, Fallout, Mass Effect
Mass Effect
Mass Effect is an action role-playing game developed by BioWare for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows by Demiurge Studios. The Xbox 360 version was released worldwide in November 2007 published by Microsoft Game Studios...

 and Darkwatch
Darkwatch
Darkwatch: Curse of the West is a 2005 Weird West first-person shooter video game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It was developed by High Moon Studios and published by Capcom in the United States and by Ubisoft in the European Union and Australia.The game mixes western, horror and steampunk genres...

).

Western radio drama
Radio drama
Radio drama is a dramatized, purely acoustic performance, broadcast on radio or published on audio media, such as tape or CD. With no visual component, radio drama depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the characters and story...

s were very popular from the 1930s to the 1960s. Some popular shows include The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger
The Lone Ranger is a fictional masked Texas Ranger who, with his Native American companion Tonto, fights injustice in the American Old West. The character has become an enduring icon of American culture....

, The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid refers to a character found in numerous film, radio, television and comic book series based on the fictional Western character created by O. Henry in his 1907 short story "The Caballero's Way", published in the collection Heart of the West...

, Doctor Six-Gun
Doctor Six-Gun
Doctor Six-Gun was an NBC western radio drama that ran for sixty episodes between September 1954 and October 1955.-Overview:Doctor Gray Matson, played by Karl Weber, is a frontier physician based in a small western town in the 1870s called Frenchman's Ford...

, Have Gun–Will Travel, and Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West....

.

See also



  • American Old West
    American Old West
    The American Old West, or the Wild West, comprises the history, geography, people, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century...

  • American West
  • Native American History
  • Gunfighter
  • Cowboy
    Cowboy
    A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century arose from the vaquero traditions of northern Mexico and became a figure of...

  • History of United States continental expansion
  • List of Western fiction authors
  • List of Western films
  • List of genres
  • History of Movie Ranches
  • TV Western
  • Western Writers of America
    Western Writers of America
    Western Writers of America, founded 1953, promotes literature, both fiction and non-fiction, pertaining to the American West. Although its founders wrote traditional western fiction, the more than five hundred current members also include historians and other non-fiction writers as well as authors...

  • Dime Western
    Dime Western
    A Dime Western is a modern term for Western themed dime novels, which spanned the era of the 1860s—1900s. Most would hardly be recognizable as a modern western, having more in common with James Fennimore Cooper's Leatherstocking saga, but many of the standard elements originated here: a cool...

  • Golden Boot Awards
    Golden Boot Awards
    The Golden Boot Awards honor actors, actresses, and crew members who have made significant contributions to the genre of Western television and movies. The award is sponsored and presented by the Motion Picture & Television Fund...



  • Boss of the plains
    Boss of the plains
    The Boss of the Plains was a lightweight all-weather hat designed by John B. Stetson for the demands of the American west. It was intended to be durable, waterproof and elegant...

  • Sombrero
    Sombrero
    Sombrero in English refers to a type of wide-brimmed hat originating in Mexico. In Spanish, however, it is the generic word for "hat", which originates from "sombra", meaning "shade"....

  • Native American history of California
  • Northern (genre)
    Northern (genre)
    The Northern or Northwestern is an American and Canadian genre in literature and film made popular by the writings of Rex Beach and Zane Grey. It is similar to the Western genre but the action occurs in the Canadian North and typically features Mounties instead of, for example, cowboys or sheriffs...

  • Owen Wister
    Owen Wister
    Owen Wister was an American writer and "father" of western fiction.-Early life:Owen Wister was born on July 14, 1860, in Germantown, a well-known neighborhood in the northwestern part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Owen Jones Wister, was a wealthy physician, one of a long line of...

  • Frederic Remington
    Frederic Remington
    Frederic Sackrider Remington was an American painter, illustrator, sculptor, and writer who specialized in depictions of the Old American West, specifically concentrating on the last quarter of the 19th century American West and images of cowboys, American Indians, and the U. S...

  • Charles Russell
    Charles Marion Russell
    Charles Marion Russell , also known as C. M. Russell, Charlie Russell, and "Kid" Russell, was an artist of the Old American West. Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States, in addition to bronze sculptures...

  • Earl W. Bascom
    Earl W. Bascom
    Earl W. Bascom was an American painter, printmaker, rodeo performer and sculptor, raised in Canada, who portrayed his own experiences cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West.- Childhood :...

  • List of Western computer and video games
  • Science fiction Western
    Science fiction Western
    A science fiction Western is a work of fiction which has elements of science fiction in a Western setting. It is different from a Space Western, which is a frontier story indicative of American Westerns, except transposed to a backdrop of space exploration and settlement.A science fiction Western...

  • Space Western
    Space western
    Space Western is a subgenre of science fiction, primarily grounded in film and television programming, that transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers; it is the complement of the science fiction Western, which transposes science fiction themes...

  • List of film genres
  • 5-in-1 Blank Cartridges

External links