The Classical Hollywood Western Par Excellence

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1A) In Matthew Bernstein’s essay, The Classical Hollywood Western Par Excellence, he states that while Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939) “appears to glorify American history, particularly its expansion westward at the expense of Native Americans” (299) it also develops an “acute social observation” of life on the Frontier and it challenges elements of the myth constructed around this history (316). The film Stagecoach depicts not only the struggles faced by pioneers traveling through Indian territory, but the belief among people during this time period that anyone can go to the West to get a “fresh start” and live a completely new life without social prejudice. However, Stagecoach proves this myth to be false for various reasons. One example of this would be when Mr. Hatfield offers Mrs. Mallory water from the water canteen on the stagecoach. Once she accepts his offer, Mr. Hatfield pours it into a silver cup for her and does not offer anyone else in the stage coach water. Ringo then makes a comment to Mr. Hatfield that he should give the other lady in the stagecoach, Dallas, water as well. However, Dallas has a reputation of being a prostitute. So, Mr. Hatfield decides to give her some water but refuses to lend her the silver cup to drink out of, he makes her drink it out of the canteen instead. This example proves that these people were not getting a “fresh start” and only the upper class can share such luxuries as a silver cup with only other upper class people, social

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