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The History of The Western Genre through 8 Must-See Films

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Although settings, costumes, and tropes remain consistent throughout the films of the Western genre, the values, lessons, and heroes of the genre are constantly changing. In many ways, Westerns serve as a perfect window into how America has viewed itself throughout the twentieth century. Through 8 films, we'll take a journey through these changes to understand how Westerns have evolved, and how this evolution has been shaped by history.

"Stagecoach" and The Traditional Western With arguably the genre's most quintessential director, John Ford, lead actor, John Wayne, and scenic location, Monument Valley, this black-and-white classic employs every trope of the genre in a tight 1 hour and 40 minute package. Storywise, it's the subplots and the humor that make this movie great. Many playful vignettes, featuring expert character actors of their day, paint life on the frontier as cheap, justice as obsolete, and morality as ambiguous. This lighthearted humor juxtaposed ag…