Chapter9- The PostWarHollywoodWestern FilmandTVWesterns
Prior to WWII it is very difficult to see positive images of Native Americans in Western
films. During the war this created awkwardness around the issue of the history of the
treatment of Native Americans by Whites. It did not sit well with the message that
Americans wanted to send to the rest of the world about the importance of stopping
theoverlyracistpoliciesof their enemies,ImperialJapan andNaziGermany.
The early Westerns often pitted the natives against the whites in a battle between
“civilization” and “savagery.” This became more and more untenable as the war
An early series of defeats for the US military in the Pacific Theatre of operations during
WWII caused difficulties for filmmakers (troubles with making war movies that were
Combat films made earlier in the war drew on a particular aspect of the Western genre
to solve this problem. Combat films that built “the story around the ‘last stand scenario’
in which heroic representatives of American civilization sacrifice themselves to delay
the advance of a savage enemy” were well suited to this task. Characters would not die
in vain; their comradesin armswouldwin thelarger war.
As the war progressed and America’s fortunes improved, the necessity for these “last
stand” narratives diminished and they were eventually replaced by celebrations of
Western films experienced a renaissance after WWII. Between 1946 and 1962 some of
the most celebrated examples of the genre were produced, and far more “A-picture”
Westernswere producedthan before thewar.
30%ofallfilmsmade in Hollywoodbetween 1947-1950were Westerns.
“Manifest Destiny”—that the myths of the Western had already ingrained in the minds
Case Study- The ColdWarandtheTelevision Western