Hollywood in the 1950s and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

 

*50s Conservativism:  A Looking Back

 

1.  Shift away from 40s social problem films:  why?

 

2.  Changes in industry structure:  Paramount Decision

 

          --beginnings of this change?

          --“divestiture”—of what?

          --was it a problem?

 

3.  Changes in viewership:

 

          --demographic changes

          --TV

          --Hollywood’s response

 

4.  Changes in regulatory pressure:  HUAC

 

5.  The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as an example of “safer” subject matter

 

          --1962; John Ford (director):  a stylistic “turning back” (Ford directed many westerns such as Stagecoach from the 1920s through the 1960s; his previous film was The Searchers; after this was Cheyenne Autumn)

 

          --What does Schatz identify as the essential icons, conventions, and ideas in the western film?  How are they at work here?

 

          --How do major components of melodrama (family; social rules; moral values that become clarified) become adapted by the elements of the western in this film?

 

          --How does The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance use the “safer” comfort zone conventions of 1950s Hollywood filmmaking to confront issues of politics, gender, and race that are fundamental to the codes and conventions of the western?  What is the film arguing, ultimately, about politics?