The Rise of the Hollywood Western: 1939-1959

Westerns have been a vital staple of the Hollywood film industry from the very beginning, with literally thousands of quickly-made B-pictures flooding theaters week after week during Hollywood's golden heyday.

These early "oaters" (as they were then called in the trade papers) were crude and primitive, barely concerned with the routine action at hand and little else. It wasn't until John Ford made Stagecoach in 1939—now acknowledged as the first serious "adult" western—did the genre at last reach the potential it was destined to achieve.

Over the next two decades Hollywood produced some of the most exciting western films of all time, brilliantly evoking America's dusty past while stretching the elastic possibilities of film to new and exhilarating limits.

Film Series Overview

Through the viewing and discussion of TEN key western films from this classic period—ALL ON THE BIG SCREEN at Portland's Cinema 21—this ten-week class will trace the remarkable development of a genre most filmgoers casually take for granted but one that offers a plenitude of surprising rewards.

Films directed by legendary giants like John Ford, William Wellman, Raoul Walsh, Anthony Mann, and Budd Boetticher will rub shoulders with works by notorious Hollywood mavericks like Nicholas Ray, Samuel Fuller, Joseph H. Lewis, and Andre De Toth. 

These classic American genre films will not only provide a thrilling spectacle of entertainment, they will also reveal a deeply humanistic, socially conscious side to cinematic storytelling, one that often gets ignored when assessing this often misunderstood genre.

Instructor Elliot Lavine

Elliot Lavine has been a film programmer of national repute since 1990, both in the San Francisco Bay Area and now here in Portland.

In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir. He has taught film studies courses for Stanford's Continuing Studies Program since 2006.

Films in this Course

These are the TEN films we'll be watching in luxurious comfort at Cinema 21 in Portland each Tuesday morning at 11:00 am beginning September 24.

  • September 24: Stagecoach (1939; John Ford)
  • October 1: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943; William Wellman)
  • October 8: Pursued (1947; Raoul Walsh)
  • October 15: The Furies (1950; Anthony Mann)
  • October 22: Devil's Doorway (1950; Anthony Mann)
  • October 29: Johnny Guitar (1954; Nicholas Ray)
  • November 5: Forty Guns (1957; Samuel Fuller)
  • November 12: The Tall T (1957; Budd Boetticher)
  • November 19: Terror in a Texas Town (1958; Joseph Lewis)
  • November 26: Day of the Outlaw (1959; Andre DeToth)
PLEASE NOTE: This is a complete program and no individual tickets/days will be sold.
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New dates coming soon!
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10 days
location
Onsite | Portland, OR
price (2)
$129

Instructors

Elliot Lavine

Elliot Lavine has been a film programmer of national repute since 1990, both in the San Francisco Bay Area and now here in Portland. In 2010, he received the Marlon Riggs Award from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle for his revival of rare archival titles and his role in the renewed popularity of film noir. He has taught film studies courses for Stanford's Continuing Studies Program since 2006.

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