Film "Stagecoach" Analysis

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Stagecoach: The Revolutionary Western

John Ford built a standard that many future directors would follow with his classic 1939 film “Stagecoach”. Although there were a plethora of western films made before 1939, the film “Stagecoach” revolutionized the western genre by elevating the genre from a “B” film into a more serious genre. The film challenged not only western stereotypes but also class divisions in society. Utilizing specific aspects of mise-en-scène and cinematography, John Ford displays his views of society.

The film consists of many cliché western characters. There is a banker, an outlaw, a prostitute, a doctor, a gambler, and a pregnant woman. These characters are categorized by social class. The banker, the pregnant woman, and the gambler are considered upper class. The outlaw, the prostitute, and the doctor are considered lower class. Ford emphasizes the social prejudice that is present between the two classes by using composition of mise-en-scène. In the dinner table scene, Lucy Mallory cannot bear eating next to, Dallas, the prostitute. Therefore, Hatfield escorts Lucy Mallory to the opposite end of the table. The use of space in the scene depicts the division between the upper class and the lower class. Because of the social status of Ringo Kid and Dallas, the characters in the upper class try not to associate themselves with them.

John Ford also illustrates that prejudice can also occur within the same social class. In one of the earlier scenes, Lucy Mallory is in the hotel with her friends. The camera is in a medium range shot and the shot is from the inside of the tearoom. In this scene, Lucy Mallory asks her friends who the strange man outside of the window is. Her friends reply that the man is nothing but a notorious gambler. In this shot, the curtains of the window frame Hatfield. The way that Hatfield is judged immediately is similar to picking up a picture frame and judging a picture. Ford is trying to illustrate the fact that...
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