Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Day of the Outlaw
Day of the Outlaw, produced in 1959, depicted women in a new light. Though they still displayed some of the more traditional qualities of western women, their presence was much more prominent than in earlier films. It was clear that the women had more of a hold over the cowboys. For example, Gene falls in love with Ernine and returns to her after he is dismissed from the journey across the mountain. Also, the women in the film more readily stand up to the men. Helen Crane admits to Blaise, whom she had had a love affair with, that she no longer has feelings for him and will continue to be the wife of Hal. The traditional western women would have a much harder time doing this than Helen did. The men of their town are very protective over their women, guarding them from the sexually frustrated Tex and Pace. It is apparent that their being with the town was valued and regarded highly. Even Bruhn shows a level of respect towards the women, not allowing Tex or Pace to be alone with the women. Day of the Outlaw was filmed at the onset of the second wave of the feminist movement, which went into full swing in the early sixties. Thus, the level of respect attained by women in the westerns correlated directly towards the ongoings of the time. Even the alpha male cowboys were losing some of their defining qualities. For example, Blaise, the alpha male of the film, subjected himself to the harsh journey over the mountain, but in the end, returned to the town for the comforts of home. The men in Day of the Outlaw were arguably much more vocal and dependent on each other than the cowboys in earlier westerns. With this in mind, it became clear that the defining qualities of each gender were being altered, as a result to the movement of the late fifties.