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Western: "Stagecoach" 1939 John Ford


John Ford’s western “Stagecoach” is one of the earlier Western films released in Hollywood. This film was innovative for the film industry because characterization, social commentary, and moral drama were used to reinvent the Western film genre. This was successfully done by incorporating nine characters of various social classes in a single stagecoach, and all went on a ride to explore the Indian territory. Following that establishment within the story, the movie became as complicated as ever, from prolonged dialogue-driven scenes to extremely tense gunshot or fighting scenes.


What makes this film more attractive than other films about character development is that each character was given a thorough introduction, demonstrating their economic situation, what they have been going through, and what they want to accomplish. This was likely done so the viewers understand the characters better. However, those introductions may also disrupt the flow of the story to some viewers because they were just anxious to see what crazy fight would happen next. Other viewers may also tune out of this film for several minutes since several moments could have been faster-paced and may have created boredom for viewers.


Although this film was full of boredom for viewers at many points, the musical soundtracks were used to match the mood between the characters. This film received an Academy Award for the soundtrack. This was likely because the soundtrack was catchy at several moments, especially when there were moments when characters fell off their horses. Another point that stood out to viewers was that several horseback riders drank alcohol while riding their horses, which can influence the reckless behaviors of other individuals in the audience.


Before this film, many American Western films had failed and were filled with even more boredom. Several of them starred very unpopular actors, except this film featured John Wayne, who was able to change the Western film genre forever. Like many other Westerns, this featured a low budget and a film that struggled to tell the story of the Old West from the 1880s.


Two years after the release of this film, America entered World War II, which makes this film one of the most achievable Westerns of the time. However, many improvements were made to later Western movies, which had less boredom and more action and drama. This was likely due to the production code lifting little by little during and after World War II, starting with Citizen Kaine and evolving into Film Noirs, beginning with Double Indemnity in 1944.


One notable connotation in Western films, especially “Stagecoach,” was that the Native American population was always labeled negatively toward viewers. Even in later Westerns, that vision and behavior never changed, making Westerns one of the least popular genres of all films between the 1930s and 1960s. Despite this, “Stagecoach” influenced other filmmakers to create new film genres and revamp how filmmakers tell a story instead of boring viewers. As hundreds of more Westerns were made, most were like this film, but some later ones, such as “The Tall T” from 1957, had less boredom and had more action that likely led to precursors of the American New Wave, which began in 1967.

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