Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Johnny Guitar and Two Mules for Sister Sarah

During the first half of the twentieth century, women had a very minor influence in the western genre. Although their existence often impacted the plot, the actions of the women themselves never influenced the sequence of events. However in both Johnny Guitar and Two Mules for Sister Sara, the female characters take the center stage, abandoning their traditional roles as ‘other’ in the western genre. In Johnny Guitar, filmed in 1954, Vienna and Emma play the roles typically filled by alpha males. They are depicted as a strong and powerful woman that take action into their own hands and have influence within the town. Two Mules for Sister Sara also portrays a similar kind of feisty female character. Sara holds her own feelings and values, and refuses to let Hogan brush them aside. In the end, the film departs from the tradition western in many ways. Sara is depicted as outsmarting the alpha male cowboy. She fooled him and took advantage of him throughout the entire movie in order to fulfill her own needs. Furthermore, she ended up winning over the stolid and tough cowboy’s heart and domesticating him, illustrated in the closing scene as they ride off together, his pack horse piled high with her womanly belongings.

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