Mann and Woman: The Function of the Feminine in the "Noir" Westerns of Anthony Mann
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In this paper we seek to make some preliminary observations regarding the status and function of the feminine in the Western. After a brief historical review of the critical discussion of gender in the Western, we develop a mode of analysis which we believe promises to facilitate a more complex and sophisticated understanding of the feminine in the Western than those resulting from the basic distinction between East and West/Civilization and Nature (with the feminine resolutely on the Eastern/Civilized side of the equation) derived from the seminal work of Henry Nash Smith. We explore the potential of the problematisation of female acquiescence in what we call the "Virginian effect" in relation to the "circulation" of women in Westerns. We consider these problematisations in relation to Anthony Mann's first three Western films: Devil's Doorway, The Furies and Winchester 73. We focus on Mann because of his explicit insistence on the importance of women in structuring the Western film.
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Screen and Media Culture