The Golden Age of Hollywood

What Does a Film Have to Have to Be Classified as a "Western?"

Sounds like a dumb question, but it really isn't...does it have to fall within a theorectical limited period of time? Is it a matter of the location? Does it have to have stetson hats, six-shooters and/or horses? Or is it a matter of thematic elements? Plot? Characterization? Is there a minimum combination of elements required, in your opinion, for this classification? I ask this because I am curious whether certain films, like THE ALAMO (any version) or GUNS FOR SAN SEBASTIAN (which takes place in the 18th Century but involves Indian fighting in the southwest) should or should not be classified as 'Westerns.' Any ideas?

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I see what you mean. Back in 1976, I, my brother and some friends attempted to make a "western" on Super 8 film...we managed to make about half an hour of it over a few months--it had gunfights, outlaws on the run, etc., but it also had only one cowboy hat, but it DID have one horse, which just happened to be across a fence in the background, and it shared the scene with a junk automobile of approximately 1960s--vintage. And I don't blame you for not liking me for asking the question...
Thelma & Louise? Hell, for that matter, the 1970 Hammer Sci-Fi film Moon Zero Two could be called a 'Western'--right down to the 'six-shooters' and the Moon Saloon...
Outland is considered to be High Noon in outer space.
Stuff like The Alamo and Guns for San Sebastian often get lumped into the "Action" catagory...Guns for San Sebastian often is mistaken for a Spaghetti western due to its Cast,Morricone Score and Italian co production..even tho its shot in Mexico and not Spain...I tend to include movies set in the Mexican Revolution Like The Professionals and Viva Villa et al ,into the western genre even tho they could simply be termed Action pictures as well...Its those movies that feature western "types" in modern times that I have trouble catagorizing..great films like Junior Bonner,Lonely are the Brave,Pow Wow Highway,Tex...etc.They're just full o western flavor yet..whataya call 'em?..I lump them somewhere between the western and the "good 'ol boy-Road "type picture...
For the most part, film scholars state that it has to be post-Civil War, and pre-1900.

Personally, I've always considered The Alamo to be a war film, anyway. Some consider films like Drums Along the Mohawk to be a western, but come on, it's in New York, for corn's sake. For the same reason, I don't consider Quigley Down Under to be a western.

Truth be told, I'm in the minority as far as this is concerned.
I always question some of the films that Encore Western shows ( Anything with a rodeo,anything with a horse, anything with chewing tobacco etc.) as to if they are truly westerns or not.
You mean films a la Junior Bonner? I agree. They're dramas.
Ms. Addie will be pleased to note that MOON ZERO TWO was recently released on DVD as part of a WB double-feature with another contemporary Hammer film, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (which isn't a western, but does involve chases across arid wilderness, etc.) Incidentally, 'Christopher' and I saw MOON ZERO TWO at my hometown theater (the now-defunct Strand Theater in Clarksville, Ark.) way back when it was released...it was a double-feature with something, but we're not sure what that was (I'm not sure, in any case...)
Classifying THE ALAMO as a war film works to some degree, assuming the category "War" film is simply used to describe any film dealing with any War; however, at the risk of being accused of splitting hairs, I rather fancy that when one sits down to watch a "War" film, one about conflict in Texas in 1836 isn't the first thing that jumps into their mind, and neither is it Zululand in 1879, or Waterloo in 1815, or even Gettysburg in 1863 (don't you just hate people who squandered their chance at Higher Education on a History Degree?)--I think that, like myself, they probably think of machine guns, aeroplanes, tanks and Gung Ho...THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY mostly sticks to pure Western stuff, as it should, but towards the end we suddenly have the Civil War bursting upon us, but this doesn't make it a War film (incidentally, mine and Christopher's Great-Great Grandfather served in the campaign depicted in that film. I love the film, but I have to laugh at Leone's Pride in His Historical Research, considering his depiction of the scale of the action, railroads where none existed at the time, gigantic cannon and 17th-Century European mortars, to say nothing of a well-uniformed Confederate (and Union) Army and cheering references to Generals Grant and Lee at a presumed time (1862) when neither of them had become household names. I don't know where that battle was supposed to be, but it resembled neither Valverde nor Glorietta Pass from my perspective. Still, you gotta love it..."There's General Sibley--he looks DEAD!!! Hurrah for Dixie!!!"
As one who has a history degree, I accept your hate.
I remember by someones historical calculations,that the Bridge assualt in GBU would have taken place somewhere in Ark...Pea Ridge maybe..and that Sad Hill cemetary is outside a Ft. Smith....Arch Stanton is your Neighbor!....Leone's original concept had it all taking place in the Louisiana,East Texas area
That cemetery is awfully deserty to be in Fort Smith, as is the area around the bridge where that battle takes place, assuming its meant to be at Pea Ridge (where another ancestor of mine served, and in fact was allegedly killed--I have the alleged bullet that killed him, in fact.) But I suppose this is no more absurd than the huge mountain outside of Ft. Smith that appears in TRUE GRIT, or the snow-capped peaks depicted in Oklahoma in the sequel, ROOSTER COGBURN AND THE LADY...

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