Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930's: The Lost Trail

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For the first time, this book tells the 'lost' story of the 1930s Western. Written from a concern to understand Western films primarily as products of Hollywood's studio system, it recovers the context in which Westerns were produced, exhibited and viewed in the 1930s. Peter Stanfield highlights the hitherto marginalised 'B' or 'series' Western, the significance of female audiences, the role of independent exhibitors and of censorship in shaping film production.
The book includes illustrations from the following films: Arizona, The Big Trail, Billy the Kid, Cimarron, Destry Rides Again, Dodge City, In Old Arizona, In Old Santa Fe, Jesse James, The Lash, Let Freedom Ring, Oh, Susanna!, Oklahoma Kid, The Plainsman, Ramona, Santa Fe Trail, Stand Up and Fight, Three Godfathers, Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Union Pacific, Virginia City, The Virginian, and The Westerner.

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Editorial Reviews

Western Historical Quarterly
“Although it would seem that everything one might want to know about westerns has already been written, Peter Stanfield’s new book on the subject proves otherwise . . . His decision to treat all westerns equally, as output produced by the studios, instead of privileging a small canon of classics, yields fascinating new insights into the genre during this decade . . . Stanfield’s work provides an entertaining chronicle as well as a valuable contribution to scholarship.” –Western Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2002
Edward Buscombe
“Peter Stanfield has blazed a new trail in the history of the Western. The value of Stanfield's work is that it does not confine itself to the recognised classics, dealing instead with the genre as a whole. Stanfield writes with wit and insight, and an astonishing knowledge of the more arcane reaches of American popular culture. This is the book the Western has long needed.” –Edward Buscombe, editor of The BFI Companion to the Western
Steve Neale
“Full of insights, painstaking scholarship and lively writing. It will become a classsic. A definite recommendation.” –Steve Neale, Research Professor in Film, Media and Communication Studies, Sheffield Hallam University and author of Genre and Hollywood
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter Stanfield is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Kent. His main area of interest is the cultural history of American film, with a particular focus on film genres and cycles, and popular music and film. His current research is concentrated on and around post-war film cycles, in particular boxing movies, Mickey Spillane adaptations, Mark Hellinger Productions, Eagle-Lion crime films, the series of Audie Murphy westerns, and the psychologisation of the western hero.

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Table of Contents


1. The First Cycle of Sound Westerns

2. Series Westerns, Will Rogers and the Emergence of the Singing Cowboy, 1931–1935

3. Series Westerns: Masking the Modern

4. Class-A Western Features, 1935–1938

5. Democratic Art: Westerns 1939–1941
6. Dixie Cowboys: Representing the Nation


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