Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rooster Cogburn/High Noon/ Little Jo

Although the three films provide rich content for cultural studies on many subjects, you are to concentrate on the changing status of/attitudes toward women by using Tompkins's analysis of women in classic westerns as a base line. Be sure to support your assertions with examples from the films and quotations from Tompkins to demonstrate the differences.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Red River

In the move Red River there appears to be two very strong alpha male cowboys. Both Tom Dunson and Matt Garth have the look and possess certain skills such as a quick draw of a gun that would define an alpha male cowboy. However as the movie went on you came to realize that Tom and Matt had opposing viewpoints and feelings on certain issues. On the long and grueling cattle drive Matt often showed compassion for the men on the drive that Tom did not. When one man started a stampede that lost a portion of the cows and killed one of their men Tom reacted with anger towards this man trying to whip him. To protect himself this man drew a gun on Tom. Matt quickly shot the man in the shoulder because he knew Tom would have “shot him between the eyes” and killed him. Latter in the movie Matt saved two men that deserted the party from being hung. A cut throat attitude and call to duty that are two attributes the alpha male cowboy possess. Tom clearly shows both of these characteristics. Matt’s understanding and compassion shown towards the men starts to pull the viewer away from the idea that Matt is an alpha male cowboy.

The alpha male cowboy is supposed to be emotionless. Fear is something that the cowboy is never supposed to show. After Matt took over the cattle drive Tom stated he would be back to kill him. When Matt’s love interest in the movie comes to see him she notices that he is shaking. It is very clear that Matt is afraid of the arrival of Tom. This proves that Matt cannot be an alpha male cowboy.

Finally at the end of the movie it is implied that Matt will marry his love interest in the movie. Even Tom tells him he better marry her. The cowboy can have a love interest but when the movie ends the alpha male cowboy is always alone. Even though at the beginning of the movie there appears to be two alpha male cowboys, as the movie progresses the viewer realizes there is only one.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Red River

Red River
An unusual cast choice in the western Red River was underway, rather than one self proclaimed alpha male the writer chose to go with two alpha males fighting to become the only alpha male in the movie. But throughout the movie it is evident that there are two alpha males, Tom Dunson and Matthew Garth. Tom being the father, the superior, the mentor, and Matt being the adopted son, the student, although this makes it easier to outline the righteous alpha male since Tom is the elder, it doesn’t transpire to be so simple. An example of that is the drawing of the gun, even though in the beginning Tom could draw the gun the fastest, Matt learnt the way and drew it even faster. It s almost like a friendly banter, yet it holds so much importance to both the men. They are not striving to do the best, but actually to be the best, which is why so much was at stake for both of them. The older versus the younger generation, while Tom holds the key of knowledge to being an alpha male, Matt holds the determinacy to overtake Tom, thus he takes over the ranch. They both hold the rights to be the alpha male as they both depict a statement in the Matheson perfectly. “The hero’s fanatic devotion to duty- which makes him the ideal American male—leads him to ignore his wife, his children and the law.” In the cases of Tom and Matt, they both ignore the women they love as their duties to the ranch is of more significance, they also embody the statement through the fact that they ignore the “law” in the movie it’s more of a social law, the younger respects the elder and the elder tries to make the younger the best, instead they disregard it and compete with each other.

Red River

There are definitely two Alfa male cowboys in the movie Red River. Both the characters have the qualities of the Alfa male cowboys. In the beginning of the movie we see that Dunson gets away and gets separated from the wagons. He does it the way he wants to do it. He and his companion go off alone in the desert, not scared of anyone or anything. Ready to face everything that comes along in their way. He then makes his way over a period of 14 years and handles a huge cattle herd in Texas.
He leads the journey, after deciding to go to Missouri and he does each and everything the way he wants to do it. On the way he gets week and loses control of the men and he is no longer able to lead the group.
Then Matt takes the lead, Dunson was wrong in some of the decisions. He then challenges Dunson and decided to lead the trail from then onwards. He then was determined to reach Abilene. At that point of time Dunson was weal physically and he could not do anything about it.
We see the determination in Matt that he wanted to take everyone safely to Abilene. He does not rest a nit until he has reached there. He does not let a women come in his way, his priorities were set as those of a true Alfa male cowboy.
As Matheson says in the article “Only the fittest, the strongest, and the most ruthless survive in the noir frontier.” We see the ruthlessness in Matt. Dunson had taken care of Matt and brought him up as if he was his own kid, but he had no feelings for Dunson when it came to right or wrong. He did what he thought was right.
It becomes apparent by the end of Red River that there are two alpha male cowboys; Tom Dunson and Matt. At first, Dunson was the only alpha male cowboy. He was on his way to start his own ranch by himself; Matheson states “the Wayne persona is an antisocial loner” (891). Being alone is often a trait of the alpha male cowboy. Another trait the alpha male cowboy possesses, which Matheson quotes from Robert Porfirio “man’s contingency in a world where there are no transcendental values or moral absolutes, a world devoid of any meaning but the one man himself creates” (896). She then goes on to say that Westerns and film noirs emphasize “life’s meaninglessness and man’s alienation” (896). This meaninglessness is displayed after the death of Dunson’s significant other when he continues on his journey to Texas, showing little to no sorrow.
When Dunson encounters Matt Garth, Garth tries to fight with Dunson. Garth is a young male, who has been on his own ever since Native Americans attacked his ranch. Dunson takes Garth underneath his wing. Garth, however, ends up turning against Dunson and stealing his cattle. This shows Garth’s ruthless side which Matheson refers to as “callous” (896). Looking at Matt’s appearance, you would think he is an alpha male cowboy; he is clean and well shaved. Matheson addresses the appearance of alpha males stating “cleanliness (or the lack of it) has played a crucial part in their coding of character” (892). Garth’s heroism is displayed towards the end of Red River when Garth fights the Native Americans when trying to save the people on the train wagon. Garth also does not stay with his significant other, claiming his lifestyle is too dangerous. This is similar to the beginning of the movie, as stated earlier, when Dunson leaves his significant other.
Both Dunson and Garth are isolated individuals who live off of the land and nature. Both men use their guns, but only when it is necessary. Both men have a sense of duty to protect those in danger. Both men live in the desert and away from the town. Both men have a sense of morals and a sense of the greater good. Both men are alpha male cowboys.

Blog#3 - Red River

In the film, Red River, the relationship between two apparent alpha male cowboys determines the fate of many men who embark on a cattle drive from Texas to Missouri. Tom Dunston, played by John Wayne, is originally introduced as the alpha male cowboy. He leaves a cattle drive to pursue his own dream of becoming the biggest rancher in Texas. In the film, only minutes pass by before Dunston shows his alpha male qualities. The cattle drive he left behind, which contained the woman he loved, had been attacked by Indians and Wayne and his companion Groot see the smoke billowing on the horizon. In the face of terrible loss Dunston shows no emotion and plans to continue towards Texas. The next morning he meets a boy who escaped the Indian attack by the name of Matthew Garth. The relationship between Dunston and Garth become the main focus of the film after this point. As Matheson points out, "the central relationships in the Western are conventionally those of the male hero and intimate (sidekick), and the central group is all male."
Dunston opts to bring Garth with him and essentially adopts him as a son. Arriving in Texas, Dunston establishes the biggest herd of cattle over the next fourteen years, and as Garth gets holder, he leaves Dunston to pursue his own desires. Despite having established an immense herd, the Civil War has left the South without the means to buy beef. Dunston and Garth gather a group of men to drive approximately 10,000 cattle north to Missouri.
In a scene right before they leave, Dunston and Garth draw guns in order to see who is faster and Garth wins. This establishes that Dunston's son and protege has exceeded his talent, and possibly become a more proficient alpha male cowboy. The relationship between Dunston and Garth becomes tense as Dunston, in pursuit of his goal, drives the men and cattle to exhaustion. The sense of duty to reach Missouri leads Dunston to push the men harder than they're capable, and the respecting the duty the men have to him and the drive, Dunston kills those who abandon the group. Disregard for morals and emotion in the face of duty is a quality of an alpha male cowboy, but Garth recognizes that continuing this behavior will only lead to the failure to reach Missouri.
Because of Dunston's disregard for justice and the well-being of his men, Garth usurps the drive and banishes Dunston. From this point on, Dunston intends to pursue Garth and eventually kill him. At this point, the relationship between the two cowboys is tearing as they disagree on how to fulfill their quest, which is a symbol for how to be the alpha male cowboy. While Dunston leaves the love of his life and original cattle drive to burn in the hands of Indians, Garth chooses to rescue a group of men and women driving west to Nevada. Dunston is brutal, emotionless and has no remorse over not returning to his girl in an effort to save her while Garth acts to protect the innocent, even at the risk of harm to himself and his fellow cowboys.
While Garth and Dunston's characters are strikingly similar, Dunston is a man who believes he can cut a straight path to his goal, despite any obstacles, while Garth sees the wisdom in avoiding those obstacles in order to maintain morale among his company. At the end of the film, Dunston attacks Garth, who refuses to fight back. However, after standing fast to bullets, Garth can't help but fight back when Dunston punches him to the ground. At this point, Garth's woman
Tess urges the men to see how ridiculous their actions are because it's clear they love each other. I believe that when Dunston becomes self aware of his emotions towards Garth and accepts that he was in the wrong, he joins Garth as an alpha male cowboy.

Red River Analysis

In Red River, Tom and Matthew are both alpha male cowboys who are constantly dueling for control over the herd. They both share the common duty of delivering the cattle to Missouri, so the people of Texas can get their money. Matheson says that the alpha male cowboy must be detectives who are damaged and isolated from society. Tom and Matthew both seem to be isolated and damaged. Tom is the typical pack leader who is distanced from society and willing to start his own cattle ranch by himself. Matthew was forced to distance himself at a young age, when his convoy was attacked by Indians and he followed his only cow to safety.
The law of the gun is another alpha male quality that both Tom and Matthew live by. Tom believes that he is teh ultimate law of the group since he made all the members sign a contract saying that they won't quit anytime throughout the cattle drive. Tom uses his contract as a supplement to his gun. He binds everyone to their duteis that are outline in the contract then uses his gun to enforce it. Matthew, on the other hand uses his gun to help bring lawfullness to the group. When Tom was about to kill one of the members for causing a stampede, Matthew shot the man just to injure him. Matthew knew Tom would kill him, but Matthew had a sense of duty towards his people and used his gun to enforce it. Matthew also uses his gun when he takes control of the group to head to a different destination.
According to Tompkins', both Tom and Matthew are men of the land; the land is everything to them. They both rarely go into town and prefer to reside in the land. The share in common many of the harsh conditons that the land imposes on them. They are both products of their environment. The desert shows them pain and death, and they show both of these qualities and are readily willing to impose them on anyone. Tom and Matthew both have several instances where they readily killed or injured someone when the believed it was neccesarry. In the end, Tom and Matthew both were able to live together and Tom somewhat granted Matthew the title of alpha male cowboy.

Red River

Towards the end of the film, it becomes clear that there are two alpha male cowboys within "Red River." Dunson initially appears to be the only alpha male, as he heads west on his own to start up his own ranch. Despite hearing that his love interest was murdered in an Indian attack, Dunson continues on to Texas. This is characteristic of the alpha male cowboy, as he is emotionless. WHen Dunson encounters Matt, he agrees to add an "M" to the brand, once he has earned it. Once Matt transitions into the role of an alpha male cowboy, Tom follows through with this promise. Matheson states that "only the fittest, the strongest, and the most ruthless survive in the noir frontier, those who...draw a gun faster than anyone else" (891). This statement especially pertains to Dunson, and later Matt, who ultimately is able to draw a gun the fastest. Matt also displays the characteristics of an alpha male cowboy when he leaves Tess behind in a hurry. Matheson also states that the cowboy "can be counted on to act in good faith, however grudgingly," (899) which is reflective of when Matt and Tom make peace with each other.

Alpha Male Cowboys

Both Tom and Matt are alpha male cowboys by the end of the film based on the qualifications given in Matheson and Tompkins' writing. Matheson qualifies the alpha-male cowboy as being hardboiled and being the law. Tompkins defines the alpha male as not fearing death, speaking with actions, and dominating the land. Tom's status is initially given to us as the alpha male because he commands many people and leaves by himself to start his own ranch. He also draws his gun faster than anyone else. When Matt meets up with Tom, he is just a child, but he stands up for himself. As Tom's protege, he obviously emulates Tom and eventually even draws a gun faster. In the end, Matt takes on Tom's role as the ranch leader, thus becoming the alpha male, and when Tom threatens to shoot Matt, he does not draw, therefore illustrating his courage when faced with death. Both cowboys do however, speak more than Tompkins might say the alpha male cowboy would and since they are looking for profit, might not be true alpha-males. They also both fall in love, but still put their missions over their romantic endeavors. All factors considered, the two cowboys positive alpha-male traits outweigh their domestic, entrepreneurial qualities.

Red River

In Red River, Wayne once again plays a character, Thomas Dunson, who makes one question whether his character is truly an alpha male cowboy. Although he is a cattle rancher who makes his living from the land, he once again shows emotion and vengeance in his actions towards the men on the cattle drive and his own son matt. However, I believe that there are two alpha male cowboys in this story as both he and matt show qualities of being them. Tom is the natural leader who steered west to start a new life. He has no emotion to his love interest being killed and presses on to his destination. Later on, when he must drive the cattle north, he becomes like the land as Thompkins states “never truly blank, but it is constantly changing” (78) as he turns from leader into hunter.
Matt is the hero towards the middle to the end of the film. He was raised by Dunson on the land and to have the characteristics of it. He is tough, strong, and can take over a situation if needed. When Dunson becomes irate and they need to press on, Matt takes the reigns and leads on. Even by repelling the Indian attack on the stagecoach, he shows that he is an alpha male because he acts upon instinct rather than thought. He steps in to fill the void of the missing cowboy with his own version of the alpha male cowboy.

Liberty Valance

The Man who shot Liberty Valance was not the man who truly shot Liberty Valance. In fact, Rance Stoddard, although being the hero of the film, is somewhat the opposite of the alpha male cowboy in the story. Matheson describes the alpha male cowboy as a someone who not only comes from the land, but someone who can defend themselves and a town. Tom Doniphon is the alpha male cowboy and at the same time, he is the antihero of the story. Tom is from the land and has the rough and rugged exterior to support the theories of the alpha male cowboy. He is never fully able to express himself, is the only one who will stand up to Valance, and is the one who knows it is his duty to protect and propel Rance from danger and into prominence. However, by committing murder and becoming irrational (Burning down the house etc.), he becomes the anti hero or character who becomes the answer to Rance’s rising star.
Rance is not the alpha male cowboy in the film. He is of language and books, of civilization and laws. All things that do not apply or make sense to the Alpha male cowboys. He comes from the land of brick and mortar, not of dirt and dust. He is a hero in the film, but only with the assistance of others.
Valance is also not an alpha male cowboy in the film because of his actions, dress, and demeanor. He dresses very gallantly and with almost pride. He bullies the townspeople into doing what he wants and giving to him what he wants. He uses the people, not the land and himself to gain things. All things which go against the alpha male cowboy persona.

The Searchers

“In the end, the land is everything to the hero; it is both the destination and the way. He struggles with it, defies it, conquers it, and lies down with it at night” (Tompkins 81).Ethan is the land and everything that resembles it. He is the tough bread and driven alpha male cowboy who is everything to the people around him and the story itself. The land in itself is hard, and at times, cold’ two things that Ethan has easily become as he has no emotions or feelings towards any characters or and situation. After Debbie is kidnapped and the girls have been raped and killed, although he has no attachment to the situation emotionally, he knows that it is his duty to go out and rescue Debbie from the savage Indians. He plays the stern and cold faced hero who exemplifies the vast and emotionless desert. He has no emotions or remorse because the land he was bread from showed him none in return. “He is as merciless as the land who bred him”. He is ruthless, blunt, and unforgiving. In the end he wants to kill Debbie because of how she has changed and what she now represents. But in the end, he realizes that it is his duty to protect her and to that the right thing to do is to bring her home. Because, “the land doesn’t just test men, it also rewards them”.

Red River

The film, Red River, exhibits two alpha male cowboy figures. The first, Tom Dunson, follows the definition of a hardboiled cowboy Sue Matheson describes in "The West Hardboiled," she states, "like the hardboiled detective, the Wayne persona is an antisocial loner," (891). Dunson can be categorized as a loner, because he has no friends or people to confide in. Every one else on the drive has friends to talk with, but Dunson is always aloof from the group. He is not afraid to do what must be done in order to complete the task he set out to do, he kills multiple of his own cowboys along the way who would not follow orders. He also states on various occasions that he is the law, going along with the idea that the west does not follow the rules and laws set up in the east, it follows the laws of the gun.

The second alpha male cowboy is Matt Garth. At the beginning of the film, Garth is a young, impressionable boy, trying to stand up to Dunson. Dunson takes Garth in and it is clear that Dunson looked to Garth as a son, and Garth to Dunson as a father. Through much of the film, it looks as though Garth is Dunson's right hand man, but begins questioning Dunsons decisions more and more as the film progresses. He eventually turns the entire crew against Dunson, steals the cattle and food, and heads the crew on a different trail with out Dunson. This act alone demonstrates Garth's hardboiled personality, and moral center. Garth saw it as his duty to stop Dunson from hanging the two cowboys, and lead the crew on a more promising trail. This type of duty based ethics is described in Matheson's article, "the pursuit of the highest good, it should noted, is not only relative to the individual, but also relative to all individuals because of thier humanity," (899). This statement explains the difference between Dunson's and Garth's ideas of morality. Each has their own view of what is moral, and they both act on these instincts which categorize them as alpha male cowboys.

By the end of the film, Garth and Dunson meet in the town and begin to fight. It seems as though they are going to fight to the death, since each one is an alpha male cowboy, it is his duty to continue fighting. The two only stop when Tess Millay intervenes and points out that neither one wishes to kill or hurt the other, because they care for each other. This is a perfect example of cowboys and their lack of using language. Jane Tompkins states, "silence is a sign of mastery, and goes along with a gun in the hand. They would rather die than settle the argument by talking to each other," (64). Dunson and Garth's argument could easily be solved by simply talking about it, but the cowboys see language as a sign of weakness and therefore decide to use their guns. However, in the end, Tess influences them to stop fighting and they both realize what she is saying is true, the cowboy's "shell may be hardboiled, but his heart has a soft spot at its core," (Matheson, 899).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Red River

By the end of Red River, there are two alpha male cowboys. Throughout the movie, Matt changes into an alpha male cowboy, having lived and traveled with Dunson. When Matt first meets and is taken in by Dunson, Matt wants an “M” included in the brand, but Dunson tells him he must earn it. At the end of the movie, Dunson tells Matt that he is going to change the brand to include an “M” since he has now earned it.

Matt has the appearance of a cowboy. He dresses in a manner similar to Dunson, and like a cowboy should be, as Matheson states, he is neither too dirty nor too clean. Matheson says that “the individual does not enforce the law; he is the law” and that man must be “his own moral center”. Matt proves that he is the law when he takes control of the cattle drive, going against Dunson’s original plan. He also prevents Dunson from killing some of the men when he feels it is wrong to kill them, taking action to do what he feels is morally right.

Matt gains a sense of duty, proven by his taking action to help the wagon train that is being attacked by Indians. In the opening scene, Dunson leaves the woman he loves behind saying the journey is too dangerous and tough for her. Matt later mimicks this when he tells the woman he loves, from the wagon train, that she cannot go with them because it is tough and dangerous. Alpha male cowboys never settle down with a woman because they have a sense of duty that put them in dangerous situations and they live off of the land itself.

In the final scenes, Dunson tries to shoot Matt, but Matt will not draw his gun. Then, Dunson starts punching Matt, who eventually fights back. He did not want to fight Dunson because he is a fatherly figure to him. As an alpha male cowboy, he pushes his feelings aside to do what he must in order to survive.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Red River

Are there two alpha male cowboys in Red River? Explain your response with evidence from Tompkins and Matheson.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

“No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” As always the legend of the west always portrays characters in opposing lights, emphasizing each character, while keeping all three men in the limelight. In the film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” the audience gets a taste of three prominantly singular characters, each holding a divergent attribute. Tom Donophin, Rance Stoddard and Liberty Valance, a daring combination of the epitome of western alpha male ( Tom Donophin), the smart honest senator ( Rance Stoddard) and the vigilant vilian (Liberty Valance).

In Sue Matheson’s “The West-Hardboiled: Adaptations of Film Noir Elements, Existentialism, and Ethics John Wayne’s Westerns.” Her observations show the distinctions of each character yet the similarities too. “You’d better start packing a handgun….I know those law books mean a lot to you but not out here. Out here a man settles his own problems” this depicts the differences between Rance and Tom, yet it creates a sense of brotherhood between Tom and Liberty who go by the same rules, each trying to settle their problems their own way. From this ideaology although they might share differences due to their personas and characteristics, the west changes the characters into people with the same perspective, a perspective inspired by the sand, by the heat, by the desert of the west.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

The cast in the film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” quite precisely portrays the distinct set of characters present in a any typical John Wayne Western. Together, Liberty Valance, Tom Donophin, and Rance Stoddard fill these corresponding roles as specifically identified in Sue Matheson’s “The West-Hardboiled: Adaptations of Film Noir Elements, Existentialism, and Ethics John Wayne’s Westerns.”

According to Matheson, Tom Donophin exemplifies the classic John Wayne antihero. He is the tough and independent, hardboiled cowboy. He is his own “moral center,” living life by his own rules. Although he has many faults, he is portrayed as a man of honor and respect. However, his antihero status would not be possible without the corresponding characters of Valance and Stoddard. Valance represents the psychopathic villain, terrorizing the town, robbing and killing without mercy. He is dirty and disheveled, reinforcing Matheson’s assertion, “the dirtier their faces, the darker their hearts.” Stoddard, on the other hand, represents the opposite extreme. He is a man of the law whose deontologist ways clash with everything the West represents. In contrast to the alpha male cowboys, he is viewed as particularly feminine, evident not only in his lack of aggression but in his continuous carrying out of female tasks such as working in the kitchen, waiting tables, and wearing an apron. Thus, Donophin is seen as virtuous and honorable, not because he is particularly moral, but because he is the mean between two extremes.

In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Ransom Stoddard is a man with good morals living in a corrupt, Western Frontier. Stoddard is a lawyer who believes that the law will conquer all evil-doers, but he was soon proven wrong. Tom Doniphon, the alpha-male cowboy, quickly informs Stoddard “You’d better start packing a handgun….I know those law books mean a lot to you but not out here. Out here a man settles his own problems” (896). Stoddard soon comes to realize that Doniphon was right, and that he must settles his own problems rather than relying on the law. Stoddard can’t kill a man, Liberty Valance, because he does not have the mind set for it, which is why, Doniphon takes care of the problem himself.
Liberty Valance’s appearance did not suggest he was the alpha male. Valance was dressed in dirty, rugged clothing and was not cleanly shaved. Valance lacked cleanliness. Matheson addresses the importance of hygiene, or lack thereof, in Westerns and how the exterior of a character reveals his or her role; “cleanliness and dirt register how normal or abnormal a character’s psychology is” (892). Matheson also quotes Martin Pumphrey stating “Heroes, Pumphrey says, are not ‘stained, grimy, or disheveled in the style of the rough, unmannered villains.’ Heroes may be dusty but not dirty. Their clothes may be worn but not greasy” (892). Valance’s clothes from the beginning were very filthy which portrayed his dishonest and corrupt personality. Valance also represents a sociopath. He shows no emotion and no remorse for his actions. Matheson refers to this sociopathic lifestyle as “Hobbesian” (891) referring to Thomas Hobbes’ philosophical ideas, the author of The Leviathan, who describes life in man’s state of nature as nasty, brutish and short.
John Wayne’s character, Tom Doniphon, is quickly revealed as the hero. Doniphon was the one who saved Ransom Stoddard after he was beaten and robbed by thieves, specifically Liberty Valance. Doniphon was always neatly shaved and his clothes were very much respectable. In the scene where Liberty Valance comes to Hallie’s restaurant, Doniphon is dressed in a nice, clean-cut suit. The difference between the hero and the villain becomes even clearer when Liberty Valance enters the restaurant and the two almost encounter a dual; Liberty Valance’s grim attire is almost opposite to Doniphon’s trim suit. Doniphon and Valance do, however, share common qualities, which Matheson points out. The two characters are both “callous, remorseless, and manipulative” (897). What sets Doniphon apart from the rest of Shinbone is the fact that he is a man of his word. Stoddard talks about the bullying of Valance and says that Valance needs to be stopped but Doniphon is the only person that takes action. What proves Doniphon is a true, alpha-male cowboy, is the fact that he does not get the woman, Hallie, in the end but Stoddard does. Doniphon did this not for himself, but for Hallie by “acting in good faith” (897).

The Man who shot liberty Valance

In the movie The Man who shot liberty Valance there are two alpha male cowboys, one representing good and the other representing evil. Liberty Valance is the typical western villain, unshaven and perpetually covered in a layer of dirt. As Matheson states “One can usually determine how aberrant the characters are by their layers of grime-the dirtier the faces the darker their hearts.” Valance is a notorious criminal that most people in the town of Shinbone fear. Tom Donifon the classic “hardboiled” western hero, as Matheson would describe him, is the first one to stand up to Valance. Tom is not afraid of danger and is driven by duty. The traits of a “hardboiled” western hero are amplified through the contrasting character traits of Tom Donifon and Rance Stoddard. Stoddard is a well educated, well spoken man of the Law. He brings education to the town of Shinbone by creating the first school. When Tom returns to town he is angry at the fact that people have stopped working and are wasting their time with education. Another difference between Rance and Tom is shown at the end of the movie. When Rance almost refused the nomination because he killed a man Tom told him that he had killed Valance because he knew he could live with it. In the end good wins over when Tom Donifon kills Liberty Valance.

The Hardboiled Alpha Males in Liberty Valance

Liberty Valance and Tom Doniphon show constant tension throughout the film because they are both alpha male cowboys who strive to be the top cowboy in town. Rance Stoddard is also plays an important role in the western town. His Eastern moral of the law conflict with both the alpha male cowboys. Stoddard, who lives by the law, is in disbelief about how the Western people settle their disputes. He eventaully turns to their side because he is a favorable candidate to represent them in Capital City, so should settle his dispute their way.
Matheson would assess both the alpha males as typical hardboiled western characters. They both have the anti-social qualities that Matheson talks about in the text. Liberity Valance never has any type of social interaction with the people of town unless he is playing cards or having a drink. He doesn't even live in the town but only comes with his two side-kicks to take care of business.
Tom Doniphon on the other hand shows the qualities of being damanged and isolated. Matheson says on page 896, "There is very little difference between Doniphon and Liberity Valance. Both men settle their problems in the same fashion...Doniphon may wear a white hat in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but like Valance, he too exhibits a highly antisocial and disordered personality." Doniphon has blood on his hands and doesn't want Stoddard to be in the same situation or die. This is the reason that he kills Liberty Valance, while Stoddard is in a stand-off with him. Tom has seems to isolate himself from the people of town by drowning his sorrows at the bar and being agressive with anyone who gets in his way. However, Tom has a way to take charge and be one of the towns people when he needs to. He shows this when they are casting their votes from who should represent their territory in Capital City. Tom Doniphon was able to take order and carry out the law. Tom Doniphon respects the laws of the East but knows that the way of settling disputes out West is differnt. This is the reason that Doniphon wants Stoddard to be elected and help bring change to the West.

Blog#2 - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

In the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a feminist character, Ransom Stoddard, enters a western town caught in a power struggle between to alpha cowboys, Liberty Valance and Tom Doniphon. The plot revolves around the interactions between these characters and how those interactions affect the town and its citizens.
The first character introduced is Valance, whose attire, acts, and personality quickly establish him as the antagonist. As Sue Matheson notes, Valance to the viewer is "callous, remorseless, and manipulative." In the process of robbing Stoddard and his company, these qualities are become eminent as he disrespects an older woman regardless of her innocence. Mathueson labels Valance as a "prime example" of an outlaw, a "pathological liar(s) with poor behavioral controls". Valance is protected against the law and order of Stoddard's East because his brutality and ruthlessness instill fear among any who would attempt to bring him to justice.
Stoddard, as I mention earlier, plays the role of a relatively feminist character new to "western law" and its practices. When he first arrives in town, Stoddard is determined to send Valance to jail for robbery and, presumably, assault. From the beginning Stoddard is identified as "A rather naïve and gullible idealist" who "expects the West to be a place where 'civilized' values are respected." After a partial recovery, Stoddard maintains his Eastern views and refuses to carry a gun, despite Tom Doniphon's advice to "start packing a handgun... Out here a man settles his own problems." Stoddard's moral values shift as he spends more time out west, eventually taking the law into his own hands by facing Valance as a western man should, gun in hand.
Despite his protagonist appearance and reputation, Tom Doniphon shares many qualities with Liberty Valance. Mathueson explains further: "Both men settle their problems in the same fashion. In Shinbone, the individual does not enforce the law; he is the law... Doniphon may wear a white hat in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, he too exhibits a highly antisocial and disordered personality." In Shinbone, the line between hero and villain is thin and Doniphon seems to cross that line once or twice.
While he remains opposite Valance in the fight to establish an Alpha Male of Shinbone, he is too similar in character to be defined as a stereotypical hero of the past; rather, Doniphon is hard-boiled. Doniphon is another one of "Wayne's antiheroes [who] find themselves enmeshed in double binds of their own making." In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Doniphon becomes the alpha male by dismissing his own desires in order to ensure the happiness of Hallie. As Mathueson puts it, "Doniphon could have secured his relationship with Hallie by standing aside and letting Valance kill Stoddard, or by standing aside and allowing Stoddard to return to the East, but he does not. Instead, Doniphon destroys his personal happiness by acting in good faith."
Sacrifice, in westerns, defines the true alpha male. The alpha male's willingness to put his own desires second to those of others separates him from the apparent "good characters." For instance, while Stoddard stands up to Valance in the name of justice, he reaps the rewards from Doniphon's actions; his political and social success is established from killing Liberty Valance. As Mathueson concludes "... it is not the agents of civilization -the town sheriff, the newspaper editor, the lawyer, or the United States senator-but Doniphon, the loner living in the desert wilderness, who is responsible for Shinbone becoming a thriving community." This establishes Tom Doniphon as a hardboiled alpha male.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance/Matheson

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" tells the tale of two western alpha male cowboys, Tom Doniphon and Liberty Valance, whose lives are jolted by the arrival of a naive "tenderfoot" from the east, Ransom Stoddard. Stoddard arrives with the mindset that the problems existing within Shinbone can be solved by enforcement of the law. However, such behavior is foreign to the westerners. Instead, Doniphon warns Stoddard "you'd better start packing a handgun... I know those law books mean a lot to you but not out hear. Out here a man settles his own problems" (896). Both Doniphon and Valance share this view in life; they know only a life of death and gunfights. Matheson reflects upon this as she states that "in Shinbone, the individual does not enforce the law; he is the law" (896). While this comes as a rude awakening to Stoddard, it is a way of life for Doniphon and Valance. They solve their problems on their own, aided only by a gun. Ultimately, Stoddard succumbs to the ways of the west, as he realizes his helplessness against Valance. As he comprehends that his law books won't stand a chance against Valance, he resorts to using a gun.

Doniphon can further be recognized as an alpha male cowboy in the fact that he abandons his chance at love, "holding himself responsible for the course of events that he himself sets in motion" (897). Matheson realizes his predicament as she states "like all film noir antiheroes, Doniphon is caught in an existential double bind" (897). Yet in the end, he forgoes his love for Hallie in order to protect Stoddard. Realistically, Doniphon could have easily stood aside and watched as Valance killed Stoddard, which he would have inevitably done. Yet, instead, he killed the villian on behalf of him, losing his chance at love and happiness. Thus, once again, the alpha male cowboy's sense of personal duty and responsibility outweighs his desires.

Hardboiled Elements in The Man who Shot Liberty Valance

In The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, the two alpha male cowboys and Rance Stoddard eximplify some of the elements Sue Matheson speaks of in "The West Hardboiled." Each of the three characters has his own goal that contradicts the goals of the others and a different perception of ethical behavior. Tom Doniphon and Liberty Valance are hardboiled in that they are both tough, isolated, morally ambiguous, pessimistic, and cruel, while Rance is not. Tom shuts down Rance's law argument by saying, "You'd better start packing a handgun. ... I know those law books mean a lot to you but not out here. Out here a man settles his own problems." Liberty also supports this idea, although the film clearly portrays him as the bad guy.

Because all three main characters have three different viewpoints, the concept of existentialism is significantly relevant in the film. Existentialism entails being over essence, whereby material existence and individual consciousness is superior to a broad spirituality. The world only exists as one perceives it. Therefore, there is no way to determine who is right or wrong if only each man's opinion matters. Matheson states, "In Shinebone, the individual does not enforce the law; he is the law" (Matheson). This means that even the law, the code that all individuals are supposed to abide by, isn't superior to the perception of the individual What is clear is that only the strong survive, so whether or not someone is right or wrong in the west doesn't matter as long as a goal is achieved. Ethics are irrelevant.

Matheson would consider the three characters to be the perfect enemies to illustrate her point. The elements of film noir, existentialism, ethics, and the hardboiled cowboy are clearly given in The Man who Shot Liberty Valance.

The man who shot Liberty Valance

Matheson talks about how people settle their own problem and the law does not play an important role. Matheson say “In Shinbone, the individual does not enforce the law; he is the law.”(pg 896) This is exactly what we see in the movie “the man who shot Liberty Valence.” We see that there is a formal law in Shinbone, but nobody even bothers to follow it. The marshal himself is not competent. He is scared of Liberty and Tom. When Stoddard asks him to arrest Liberty showing him the territorial law in the book, he is really scared and straight away gets away with it. Whenever he know that Liberty is in Shinbone is he really scared and tries to stay away from his sight, as if Liberty does anything wrong people are not able to approach him and ask him to take some action. The marshal always avoids being in the same place where Liberty is.

Matheson also states that “Doniphon, who is even tougher than Valance, is unquestionably his own moral centre because he can do what Stoddard cannot- live with the fact that he cold-bloodedly murdered another human being.” In the movie we see at the end during the election, when people start blaming and pointing out fingers at Stoddard that he shot and “innocent man” Liberty Valance for no reason. And say that he is a murderer he cannot live with that fact. He gets out of the hall and decided to go back to him home that is in the east. But, when Tom tells him that it was him who had shot Liberty and Stoddard did not shoot him, he is relieved. He then goes back in with all the confidence and not being guilty of anything. This shows how much it mattered to Stoddard that he had killed a man, and he felt that he was guilty of a murder and he had no right to participate in election, whereas to Doniphon it doesn’t even matter. He is fine with it. Matheson clearly shows the difference between a man from the East and a man from the West.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

The film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" depicts two prominent alpha male cowboy characters, Liberty Valance and Tom Doniphan, who offset the newcomer's, Ransom Stoddard, eastern view of the world. When Stoddard frist arrives, he is ambushed by Liberty Valance, which marks the beginning of thier long term battle agaisnt each other. In various scenes, Liberty Valance comes into town to hastle Stoddard, however, Doniphan is always there to help Stoddard out of these situations, even though thier ideas on the best way to handle it differ. Doniphan represents the typical alpha male cowboy by resorting to guns and violence to solve his problems and emphasizes that there are no law books in the west. Stoddard on the other hand, wishes to abide by the law and put Liberty Valance in jail. In Sue Matheson's article, she writes, "The world is ultimately corrupt and corrupting. Thus, decent, normally law-abiding citizens tend to find themselves enmeshed in situations that require them to become criminals." This is exactly the situation Stoddard finds himself in when Liberty Valance comes to kill him, where he finally decides to use a gun. In this way, the film also traces Stoddard's transformation from a pure easterner, believing and relying on laws, to a western cowboy solving problems with guns.

The character of Tom Doniphan also follows the code of duty based ethics analyzed in Sue Matheson's article. Doniphan continuously looks after Stoddard to protect him from Liberty Valance, even though he does not really care for him. Stoddard is seen as competition in Doniphan's eyes, threatening to take away his love, Hallie. It is clear that Hallie cares for Stoddard, and Doniphan sees it as his duty to keep Hallie happy by saving Stoddard's life again and again. This ethics theory is based on a set of virtues, which can prove to be a downfall in the west. Matheson states, "On the frontier where vices become virtues, however, it is not surprising that proponents of a duty-based system often find that their virtues have turned into liabilities." This is certainly true for Tom Doniphan. By saving Stoddard and becoming the unsung hero, he losses Hallie and the label of the town hero, both of which he possessed before Stoddard arrived to town.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Matheson

In the movie, the appearance of characters plays an important role. Matheson states that “the dirtier their faces, the darker their hearts” (892) and this is proven in the movie. When first introduced in the movie, Liberty Valance and his sidekicks are dirty and grimy, covering their faces with handkerchiefs as an attempt to protect their identities. From their appearances, viewers instantly realize that they are the “bad guys”. In this scene, they rob and beat Ransom Stoddard and leave him in the desert. Valance’s clothes also never change, showing that he is a static character, unaffected and unchanged by the events that occur. On the other hand, Tom Doniphon, is not dirty and grimy, but is also not overly clean. His clothes end up stained from dirt and sweat and his clothes are changed every day, showing that he changes throughout the course of the movie. Another character whose clothes and personality change throughout the course of the movie is Ransom Stoddard. His clothes are too civilized for the west since he is from a more civilized area. This helps illustrate that although he may change to help survive better in Shinbone, he will never truly fit in or become a cowboy.

Aside from his clothes, Stoddard has other traits that will prevent him from fitting in and becoming a cowboy. Unlike a cowboy, Stoddard is in touch with his feelings, marrying Hallie and going to live in a city. He also does not follow the laws of the west but instead tries to enforce the laws he knows as an attorney in the west. This is seen when Stoddard talks about how he wants to put Valance in jail and says that he does not want to kill him; the idea of killing a man bothers Stoddard.

As an alpha male cowboy, Doniphon must live alone outside of Shinbone. Although he loves her, he cannot marry Hallie and sets things up so that Stoddard and Hallie get married. Since Doniphon is a cowboy, he deals with his emotional turmoil by burning down his cabin, which he was putting an addition on for when he and Hallie married. The cabin burning is an example of use of film noir since it is, as Matheson states, a “[metaphor] that reflect[s] the physchological conditions of [the] [protagonist]” (890). Doniphon is also an alpha male cowboy because he realizes that he is the law. Matheson says that “[i]n Shinbone, the individual does not enforce the law; he is the law” (896). Doniphon proves this is true since he is able to do what it takes to make Shinbone a safer place – even if that means killing a man, such as Valance.

As the bad alpha male cowboy, Valance recognizes that there is no written law, and he is not afraid of using his gun to enforce his law. Valance is a callous savage, unaffected by the fact that he has beaten and murdered innocent individuals. He is not afraid of killing anyone who stands in the way of what he wants and is willing to do anything to get what he wants, no matter how cruel or unethical it may be. For example, he is unhappy about what Dutton Peabody prints about him in the newspaper, so Valance kills him. He is unaffected by the murder he commits, asking the doctor if another person has had an accident.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Consider the two alpha male cowboys as well as Rance Stoddard. How would Matheson assess them, and what do you think of her analysis? Explain with examples from the film and the article.