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Lecture 7: How are Latinos/as Represented in the Western?. Professor Daniel Bernardi / Professor Michelle Martinez. In the last lecture…. Genre & the Social Problem Film Bordertown (1933) & Assimilation Narrative Salt of the Earth (1954) & Resistance. In this lecture….

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Lecture 7 how are latinos as represented in the western

Lecture 7: How are Latinos/as Represented in the Western?

Professor Daniel Bernardi /

Professor Michelle Martinez

In the last lecture
In the last lecture…

  • Genre & the Social Problem Film

  • Bordertown (1933) & Assimilation Narrative

  • Salt of the Earth (1954) & Resistance

In this lecture
In this lecture…

  • John Ford - Irish American Auteur

  • Ford’s Western Types

  • Fort Apache (1948)

John Ford

You can pause the lecture at any point, click on one of the hyperlinks (text that is underlined) to visit a site or view a clip, and then return to the same point in the lecture when you’re ready.

John ford irish american auteur

John Ford:Irish American Auteur

Lecture 7: Part 1

John Ford (center) with actors Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne on the set of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1961)

What is an auteur

What is an “auteur?”

Theory Describing and Explaining “Style” Associated with a Particular Filmmaker

Filmmaker Possesses “Personal” Style

Style Demonstrated Across a Range of Filmmaker’s Work

Filmmaker Retains Creative Control

Filmmaker’s “Style” is Identifiable

Cinematography, Editing, etc.

Genre Preferences

Themes and Motifs


Auteur theory

Auteur Theory

“… a film (or a body of work) by a director reflects the personal vision and preoccupations of that director, as if he or she were the work's primary "author" (auteur). The auteur theory has had a major impact on film criticism worldwide ever since it was first advocated by François Truffaut in 1954. "Auteurism" is the method of analyzing films based on this theory (or, alternately, the characteristics of a director's work that makes him an auteur). Both the Auteur Theory and the auteurism method of film analysis are frequently associated with the French New Wave and the film critics who wrote for the Cahiers du cinéma.”

- Wikipedia

Some examples

Some Examples

Classical Hollywood

Charlie Chaplin

Howard Hawks

Alfred Hitchcock

Orson Welles

Contemporary Hollywood

Woody Allen

Martin Scorsese

Spike Lee

John Woo

Alfred Hitchcock

Spike Lee

John ford is classic auteur

John Ford is Classic Auteur

Emphasis on Frontier Communities

Filled with Ethnics / Disenfranchised Outsiders

Pluralistic Multiculturalism

Native Americans, Mexicans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, Slavs and Poles, Frenchmen and Italian, Swedes and Germans, poor Whites and Southerners

Themes Involve Healthy Suspicion of Assimilation Rhetorical

Panoramic Vista / Extreme Long Shots & Internal Framing

Ford s ethnic style

Ford’s “Ethnic” Style

“…Ford regarded cultures not as autonomous, static, or fixed states, but rather as fluid, evolving, and organic ones that were inextricably intertwined.”

“Ford’s skepticism about assimilation was part of his generally contradictory attitude toward America, which led him to critique the American mainstream even as he periodically celebrates the nation as a whole.”

– Charles Ramírez Berg

Traced to his ethnicity

Traced to his Ethnicity

“Remembering that he was the son of Irish immigrants, surely something he never forgets, one begins to appreciate the fact that his films emanate from the position of that oppressed ethnic minority and that his stories typically focused on marginalized outcasts.”

– Charles Ramírez Berg

Roddy McDowall in Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (1941)



“While the psychological degradation of the Irish was certainly no worse than that to which blacks have been subjected, it must also be said that from 1850 to 1950 there were no dissenting voices being raised on the subject of the American Irish; no one praised any aspect of their culture, no one suggested that Irish might be beautiful, no one argued that their treatment was both unjust and bigoted.”

– Andrew Greeley

Suggested Supplemental Reading:

How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatievr

The big point

The Big Point

“...Ford’s films centered not on the dominant mainstream but on the immigrant, working-class, socially and geographically isolated margin. And just as most Hollywood cinema used people of color to prop up its WASP self, Ford’s films –especially his Westerns – used them to promote immigrant ethnicity over the eastern Anglo elite.”

Shot from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence(1962)

Lecture 7 how are latinos as represented in the western



Drunken Brawling, Singing and Dancing, and Militarism Explore Ethnicity and Assimilation

Subversive Representations of Native Americans, Mexicans, Mexican Americans

Casting, Character, Music, Sound effects

Well-Defined Cultural Sub-Plots

Sub-Plots Explored Nature of Ethnicity

Ford s western types

Ford’s Western Types

Lecture 7: Part 2

Shot from Stagecoach (1939)

Remember definition of genre

Remember Definition of Genre

“Stated simply, genre movies are those commercial feature films which, through repetition and variation, tell familiar stories with familiar characters in familiar situations. They also encourage expectations and experiences similar to those of similar films we have already seen.”

- Berry Keith Grant

Key questions to ask

Key Questions to Ask

What are the visual features/motifs?

What are the narrative features/discourses?

What are audience expectations/Triangles?

Shot from Two-Fisted Sheriff (1937)

The types

The Types

WASP Mainstream

Ethnic Margin

The Native

African Americans

Mexicans & Mexican Americans

Scar (Henry Brandon) from The Searchers (1956)

Wasp mainstream

WASP Mainstream

Rigid, Hypocritical, and Intolerant

Selflessly Convinced of Social, Moral, and Racial Superiority

Figured as Handful of Arrogant Colonizers

Henry Fonda’s Lieutenant Colonel Thursday in Fort Apache(1948)

Law and Order League in Stagecoach(1939) drive prostitute heroine out of town.

Click Here to See Scene from Stagecoach (1939)

What s wrong with the mainstream

What’s wrong with the mainstream?

“The money, power and influence of the mainstream are corrupting forces rather than civilizing ones.”

“In short, if ethnics and minorities are sometimes stereotyped in Ford’s films, the WASP mainstream always is, with its members, consistently depicted as heartless, oppressive, and intolerant.”

– Charles Ramírez Berg.

Lt. Col. Thursday (Henry Fonda) in Fort Apache (1948)

Ethnic margin betwixt and between

Ethnic Margin: Betwixt and Between

Refugees from European Societies

Mormons’ Exile in Wagon Master (1940)

Immigrants Ethnics Banished to Frontier

Doc and Prostitute in Stagecoach (1939)

Two critical points

Two Critical Points

“Besides escaping intolerance, Ford’s margin ethnics leave the cultural center for two other reasons: first, to increase their opportunity; and second, to find a space where they can openly practice their ethnicity, which is impossible within the tightly constrained, ethnically cleansed mainstream.”

– Charles Ramírez Berg

Shot from The Searchers(1954)

The native great unknown

The Native: Great Unknown

Enigmatic; Define Ethnic Margin

Noble Savage Stereotype

Peaceful Native Defines Margin’s Morality

The Natives and the Mormons in The Wagon Master(1950)

Savage Native Defines Danger of Frontier

Scar in The Searchers(1954)

Click Here to See Scene #1 from The Searchers (1954)

Click Here to See Scene #2 from The Searchers (1954)

Characterization chart

Characterization Chart


European immigrants, especially the Irish (pioneers, settlers, soldiers at the frontier)


WASP Establishment elite; represented in the West by colonizers and assimilated Westerners


Native Americans

Shot from The Searchers(1954)

African americans marginalized of the margin

African Americans: Marginalized of the Margin

Exist Only in Segregated Outskirts of Margin of Society

Faithful Servants (Uncle Tom & Mammy)

Daisy in Drums along the Mohawk (1939)

Lukey in The Horse Soldiers (1959)

Pompey (Woody Strode) in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance(1962)

Click Here to See Scene from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

Mexicans and mexican americans hybrid race

Mexicans and Mexican Americans: Hybrid Race

Mexicans in Mexico: Light-skinned, Upper-Class, Educated

Mexicans in the US: Darker-skinned; In-habit the Margin’s Fringes

Conflated w/ Native Americans

Stereotypes as Sneaky and Untrustworthy

Chihuahua in My Darling Clementine (1946)

Click Here to See Scene from My Darling Clementine (1946)

The motifs

The Motifs

Brawling & Carousing

Freewheeling Joy of Life

Loose & Fun

Singing & Dancing

Celebrate Ethnic Community

Demonstrate Self-Expression

Marching & Parading

Level Playing Field

Demonstrate Patriotism

Shot from Fort Apache(1948)

Fort apache 1948

Fort Apache (1948)

Lecture 7: Part 3



Released in 1948

Directed by John Ford

Stars John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Pedro Armendáriz

Addresses Genocide of Native Americans

Plot summary

Plot Summary

“In John Ford's sombre exploration of THE FETTERMAN MASSACRE OF 1866 mythologising of American heroes, he slowly reveals the character of Owen Thursday, who sees his new posting to the desolate Fort Apache as a chance to claim the military honour which he believes is rightfully his. Arrogant, obsessed with military form and ultimately self-destructive, Thursday attempts to destroy the Indian warrior Cochise after luring him across the border from Mexico.”

Summary written by Bernard Keane

Ram rez berg s thesis

Ramírez Berg’s Thesis

Ford Uses Basic Cinematic Components to Demonstrate Cultural Sensitivity



Character Development


Sound Effects

“Sociologically honest filmmaking seldom seen in Hollywood cinema, before or since.”

The native and latino characters

The Native and Latino Characters

Dark-Skinned Mestizo (Mexican Indio) Miguel Inclán to Play Cochise

Speaks Historically Correct Spanish and Native American Language

Pedro Armendáriz to Play Sergeant Beaufort, a Mexican American Army Officer

Accepted as Equal

Experienced and Tempered

Characters are defined

Characters are Defined

Natives are Fleshed Out / Sympathetic / Well Developed / “Authentic”

Mexican American is Fleshed Out / Respectable / Sturdy / Reliable

White Mainstream is Genocidal / Cold / Indifferent / Lifeless / Inflexible

Ethnic Margin is Heroic / Identifiable / Anti-Assimilation but Pro-Patriot

The big point1

The Big Point

“… Ford’s multiculturalism was driven to by an obsession with justice and tolerance, which, at its best, offset his ethnocentrism. In his Westerns, this resulted in such counter hegemonic elements as his persistent critique of the mainstream and his ubiquitous cultural subplot. Moreover, as his career progressed, the cultural focus of Ford’s films widened beyond class and ethnic discrimination to include racial prejudice.”

– Charles Ramírez Berg.

End of lecture 7

End of Lecture 7

Next Lecture:

Latino Urbanism: How can a cockroach also be a shark?