Winchester ’73 was made in the 1950s, a time when men were mostly at work then returning home to their families at night. This movie clearly shows that to be a man one must partake in violence or at least forcibly take something of value. This can be seen even in the opening scene of the film where we are shown young boys and older men staring at this new and great Winchester gun. This shows that guns are desirable and that once a boy has a gun, through purchase or skill, he then becomes a man. We also see this use of a violent skill with the hero of the movie, Lin, who wins the prized gun in a sharpshooting contest. This movie also makes the viewer side with whoever has the most skills in violence, which also in this case is Lin.
There were many characters who did not live until the end of the movie for they lacked such gunfighting or skills in violence. One character was Steve. Steve, who already seemed cowardly and lacking in masculinity when he ran away from the Indians, almost did not have a choice in fighting Waco. Steve needed to prove his masculinity by standing up for his woman, Lola. Because Steve was killed, it is clear that he did not have enough gunfighting skills or masculinity traits to move further in this movie.
The other note about masculinity in this movie is shown through the very obvious villain in the movie, Dutch Henry. It’s curious that both Lin and Dutch Henry are seen being very masculine through their acts of violence, but that only dutch Henry’s acts are seen as bad, even though we do not know what he did until the very end of the movie. I believe that this is because we see Lin fighting for justice, protecting those around him, and only harming those who get in the way of justice. This movie tells that to me a man, one must be skilled in violent acts but only use partake in those acts if necessary.