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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Oh, not me...I feel your pain. A knowledge of History and a love of Historically-based film is one of the sharpest double-edged swords imaginable...not so bad when watching a film by yourself, but most folk don't seem to appreciate constant niggling about what must seem to them minor historical inaccuracies, but I've always assumed that its just as easy to get these things right. And I always admonish people that Hollywood is not the best place to draw conclusions about History, and that some "historicals" are more accurate than others purporting to be about the same thing. If you want to learn something about the Crimean War, watch the 1968 version of CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, not the 1936 Errol Flynn version (the latter is rather more entertaining, and what FLynn film wouldn,t be?) I may be mistaken, and I'm going to have to go back and take a look to be certain, but I could swear that late in the '36 film during the pre-battle staff-meeting scene that 'Lord Raglan' has grown back the arm that he lost at Waterloo...but as I said, I COULD be mistaken...

To be classified as a "Western film," (especially an Old Wild Western film, as best can be done) there must be straight, Historical Factors involved. Then, it becomes more realistic, because the stories would be real as it really happened at that time during the 1800's.



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