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Comedy and the Dismantling of the Hollywood Western

3. 1946 to 1975

4. 1966–1975

  1. Teresa Podlesney

Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470671153.wbhaf061

The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film

How to Cite

Podlesney, T. 2011. Comedy and the Dismantling of the Hollywood Western. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film. 3:4:58.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 NOV 2011

Abstract

In the 1960s, the Western genre was systematically dismantled from within, not by the cynicism of the Italian Western cycle, nor by the revisionist politics of anti-Westerns, but by the spate, indeed, the rash, of Western comedies, many of them directed by Hollywood Western veterans such as John Sturges (Sergeants 3, 1962; The Hallelujah Trail, 1965), Andrew McLaglen (McLintock!, 1963; The Ballad of Josie, 1967), and Burt Kennedy (The Rounders, 1965; The War Wagon, 1967; Support Your Local Sheriff, 1969). Hollywood's 1960s comedy Westerns are often protracted rituals of debasement in which Western characters, contexts, and stars agonizingly perform their schtick in a dollar-store “studio” mise-en-scène that is constantly upstaged and rendered additionally tatty by stunningly photographed Western locations. In the 1960s comedy Westerns, it is as if the little moments played for humor in John Ford's films — the drunken antics of Sergeant Quincannon in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), the fistfight that postpones the wedding in The Searchers (1956), the Dodge City sequence in Cheyenne Autumn (1964) — have metastasized, threatening the maturity and integrity of the host genre.

Keywords:

  • western;
  • 1960s comic western;
  • Lee Marvin;
  • genre revision;
  • postclassical western