Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Both Johnny Guitar and Two Mules for Sister Sara provide a strong contrast to the stereotypical "other" portrayed in the westerns we have seen so far. The "other" refers to everyone except the white alpha-male cowboy, but mostly focuses on women for the purpose of these films. In Two Mules for Sister Sara, the female lead, Sara, initially comes across as a sort of classic damsel in distress, but later proves her worth when she saves Hogan's life twice and provides solutions to infiltrating the French fort. She is a prosititute, and has a way of manipulating men, especially when she lies about being a nun. In Johnny Guitar, Vienna and Emma effectively sideline the men, giving them secondary status in the film. Vienna especially makes the important decisions over the men and has a strong sexual presence that also gives her an edge. Johnny Guitar and the Dancin kid are very different than most of John Wayne's characters in that they communicate well and have artistic skills (guitar and dancing).

However, both films still maintain some acknowledgement of women as the "other". For Sister Sara to accomplish her goals, she relies heavily on men. She lies to Hogan by pretending to be a nun so that he'll take her along to guarentee her safety. Through prostitution she uses men for their money. Initially, she comes across as needy and relies too heavily on religion and verbal communication, wasting Hogan's time and water and being too sensitive to eat real food because it was made by men who tried to rape her. Here, Hogan is clearly epicted as the stronger being. In Johnny Guitar, Vienna readily agrees to let Johnny Guitar protect her after she becomes involved with the dancin kid.

The reasons the women in the film are portrayed in a positive light as opposed to their traditional secondary role in westerns is because of history. Events prior to Rowe vs. Wade sparked the feminism in Hollywood.

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