Mirror for pre-war America - "Stagecoach" and the Western, 1939-1941; puritan paradigms - "My Darling Clementine" and "Duel in the Sun"; "The Lonely Crowd", Catholicism and consensus on the prairie - "Red River", "Fort Apache" and "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"; dysfunctional family structures in classic westerns, 1950-1961 - "The Gunfighter", "Shane", "The Searchers" and "The Last Sunset"; politics and codes of masculinity in late 1950s star westerns - "The Big Country" and "Warlock"; "No More West to Win" - "How the West Was Won" and the elegiac westerns of 1962; a genre in flux, a nation in turmoil - the Vietnamization of the western in mid-1960s America; receding frontiers, narrowing options - "The Wild Bunch" and the western in Richard Nixon's America; legends revisited, legends revised in "Bicentennial Westerns" - "Buffalo Bill and the Indians", "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and "The Shootist".
Michael Coyne is a writer and film historian. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Coyne (history, Univ. of Edinburgh) brings forth a bracing analysis of what he terms the golden age of Hollywood Westerns, from Stagecoach (1939) to The Shootist (1976). As the title suggests, he targets an academic or highly literate audience, for whom lingo such as "patriarchy" and "Manichacan" signifies much. Minimally, readers must be familiar with most grade A Westerns and television miniseries of the era. Coyne is well versed in this material, and the diligent reader will welcome his ability to emphasize his points through the judicious use of dialog, contemporary critics' reviews, and box office receipts. Equally appreciated are reevaluations of Duel in the Sun (1946), The Big Country (1958), and Warlock (1959). Films are placed in context to their times and each other, but more important, combed for subtexts that create or reflect American identity. Race, male supremacy, dysfunctional families, and Vietnam are all stirred into a stimulating soup. For all academic film collections.‘Kim R. Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, Pa.
Michael Coyne...heft[s] his pickax in search of intellectual nuggets..."The Crowded Prairie's" real strength lies in Coyne's passion. "The Washington Post"