Lecture Outline

The Gunfighter

· Synopsis of Film
___· Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo, the dangerous outsider
___· Townspeople are concerned
___· Ringo is supported and protected by old friends
___· Townspeople try to run Ringo out of town, but Ringo works toward better family conditions (what really matter to him)
___· Bromley shoots
___· Ringo’s last remarks

· Themes from the Film relevant to the 1950s Cold War era
___· Upholding status quo within the family
______· Ringo and Peggy
______· Ringo and his son
___· Community control
______· Cayenne peoples
______· Role of the sheriff
___· Role of outsiders
______· What defines an outsider?
______· Compare/contrast Ringo and Bromley
___· Fear of non-conformists (such as Jimmy Ringo)
___· Role of collective action
______· Cayenne
______· Ringo’s friends

High Noon

· Allegory to HUAC in Hollywood
___· HUAC threatens individual liberties (who will fight back against the enemy?  High Noon: Will Kane)
___· HUAC created a blacklist, essentially censoring the American public
______· Also limited the ability of directors and writers to break from the “culture of consensus” and challenge status quo
___· HUAC’s trial of the Hollywood 10 – one of HUAC greatest trials; blacklisted many famous entertainment figures
___· Friendly (Gary Cooper) vs. unfriendly (Carl Foreman) witnesses

· Cold War Connections
___· Gary Cooper was deemed as a friendly witness although he never actually gave substantial evidence to HUAC
___· Even Ronald Reagan (a future American president and western star) testified before HUAC
___· Carl Foreman was considered an unfriendly witness and unceremoniously blacklisted by HUAC

· Key Themes
___· In the movie High Noon, the townspeople are meant to be symbolic friendly witnesses covered in their own cowardice
___· Challenge to the Culture of Consensus
______· The sheriff (Gary Cooper as Will Kane) challenges the town’s consensus of cooperation by standing alone against the threat – a “Lone Ranger”
___· Sending a message of isolationism
______· The best way to maintain strong liberties is remain isolated and not try to democratize the world

FUN FACT: High Noon’s loss in 1952 Academy Awards’ Best Picture category is considered one of the greatest upsets in the history of the Academy Awards; this loss is often attributed to the close relationship between Cecil B. DeMille (director of the winning picture, The Greatest Show on Earth) and Joseph McCarthy, who decried the themes of isolationism and individualism presented in High Noon

Rio Bravo

· Brief Synopsis
___· 1959 movie which exemplifies some of the strongest anti-communist sentiment in Hollywood
___· Starring John Wayne and Dean Martin
______· Huge stars at the time; very prominent in the public eye

· Cold War Connections
___· John Wayne served in WWII, and was also president of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (served 4 terms)
___· Wayne’s rugged character in the movie, John Chance, is an embodiment of the “American ideal” of the time
______· A sheriff standing up alone to face a band of outlaws
______· Represents the values of bravery, individualism, and American confidence

· Rio Bravo as a response to High Noon
___· John Wayne was a fervent anti-communist and HUAC supporter, a rarity in liberal Hollywood
___· Wayne hated the movie High Noon, calling it the “most un-American thing [he’d] ever seen in his whole life”
______· Swore to make a cinematic response to the leftist High Noon – and it was Rio Bravo
___· In High Noon, Cooper’s character (Will Kane) is portrayed as helpless, begging for support from the town
______· Wayne was personally aghast at Gary Cooper’s portrayal of the weak-willed sheriff
______· Contrast to John Chance (Wayne’s character), who stands alone and does not beg for help

· Enduring Themes
___· John Wayne’s desire to make Rio Bravo as a response to High Noon is a prominent example of “making politics personal”
___· Cinematic representation of politics – the intense sociopolitical conflict is being felt in every facet of American life
______· Compare with shows like “I Love Lucy” which (perhaps more subtly) portray American attitudes as superior
___· John Wayne and his cowboy persona as the quintessential symbol of American values during the Cold War
______· Compare with other prominent movie stars, athletes, and astronauts of the time – symbols of American power

Review Questions:

· What is the significance of the meeting of disgruntled Cayenne women who want to banish Jimmy Ringo from their town? What does this say about the role of community?
· How does Jimmy Ringo’s infiltration of the Cayenne community justify American fears of communist infiltration of capitalist societies?
· Should HUAC have the authority, much like the Patriot Act today, to sidestep civil liberties in the name of preserving American democracy?
· Is High Noon an effective allegory for the relations between HUAC and Hollywood in the 1950s?
· In college Wayne claimed that he was a socialist, and even voted for Democrats in earlier elections. For what possible reasons did Wayne become such a vocal right-wing anti-communist?
· How did John Wayne’s personal politics project themselves into his role as John Chance and his decisions to film Rio Bravo in the first place?
· Assuming that John Wayne indeed made Rio Bravo as a response to High Noon, in your opinion, was the American public as sensitive to communist vs. anticommunist views portrayed in film as the political and Hollywood elites of the time? Give reasons in support of/against your argument.

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