Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of by Robert B. Pippin

By Robert B. Pippin

In this pathbreaking booklet certainly one of America’s so much exotic philosophers brilliantly explores the prestige and authority of legislation and the character of political allegiance via shut readings of 3 vintage Hollywood Westerns: Howard Hawks’ Red River and John Ford’s The guy Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Searchers.

Robert Pippin treats those movies as subtle mythic money owed of a key second in American historical past: its “second founding,” or the western growth. His principal query matters how those movies discover classical difficulties in political psychology, in particular how the virtues of a advertisement republic won a few carry on contributors at a time whilst the heroic and martial virtues have been so vital. Westerns, Pippin exhibits, bring up crucial questions on the variation among deepest violence and revenge and the state’s declare to a sound monopoly on violence, they usually exhibit how those claims end up skilled and approved or rejected.

Pippin’s account of the easiest Hollywood Westerns brings this style into the guts of the culture of political inspiration, and his readings bring up questions on political psychology and the political passions which have been overlooked in modern political proposal in desire of a constrained hindrance with the query of legitimacy.

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Extra info for Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of Howard Hawks and John Ford for Political Philosophy

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There are two important points about the mutiny scene. First, viewed from a Platonic perspective Dunson is clearly a “thymotic” man, someone whose values reflect the dominance 48 RED RIVER AND THE RIGHT TO RULE To view this image, please refer to the print version of this book. 14 in his soul not of desire and appetite (he is shown to reject the pull of the erotic, and he is not driven by appetite, clearly seeing himself more as an emperor than as a businessman) or of reason (he is impulsive, seeks no compromise, and is often, by the standards of prudence, clearly “wrong”) but of thymos, spiritedness, the will to achieve distinction and status, to be and to be known to be the doer of great deeds, subject to rage when he feels slighted or disrespected.

5 However, it is not as if the epic and mythic dimensions of the enterprise are simply ironized—that would be going too far. But Howard Hawks, the director, and Borden Chase, the screenwriter, do not simply adopt or unqualifiedly encourage us to adopt Tom’s view (or the “Texan” view or the “conventional” view). ” The uncertainty or unsettledness about perspective or point of view is immediately and strikingly apparent. 30 RED RIVER AND THE RIGHT TO RULE To view this image, please refer to the print version of this book.

In the fi rst dialogue of the fi lm, the confrontation between Tom and the wagon train leader, we are thrown into a complicated political issue that will return as the core of the drama itself, and it clearly 32 RED RIVER AND THE RIGHT TO RULE To view this image, please refer to the print version of this book. 3 foreshadows the Civil War to come. Dunson announces that he is leaving the train before they reach their goal, and the question that is posed is a complicated one: Just what had Tom Dunson “consented” to do by joining the train in St.

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