In class on Tuesday, we discussed that the American western movie genre was developed because of the rapid urbanization due to the industrial revolution. Americans needed an icon to look to for hope of a more exciting life than working in a factory. They needed the renewal of masculinity. Winchester ’73 illustrated this in a number of ways. Foremost, the entire movie revolved around a rifle, which I believe represents power and masculinity. Additionally, the presence of Lola throughout the film illustrates the idea that a woman needs a man to protect to her. However, the term man specifically means one with money and bravery. This is evident in Steve’s shortcomings. Another example of this statement can be seen in the very beginning of the film when Lin comes to Lola’s defense when he sees the Sheriff forcing her into a stagecoach.
In addition, this film also deliberately portrayed Native Americans in a negative light. The filmmakers did this to enforce the idea that the white man has more of a claim to the land than the Native Americans. This paints the Native Americans with a villain-like image because they fight back for what is rightfully their land. This image is conveyed through the multiple chases involving gunfire and violence. The particular scene that comes to mind is the one when Lamont meets the Native American buyers. When Lamont refuses to sell his rifle to the leader, Young Bull, he is robbed and scalped.
Finally, I found the fact that the shooting contest for the rifle takes place on the fourth of July, American Independence Day, to be quite interesting. Frederick Jackson Turner referred to the West as America absent of European control. Therefore, I do not think it was a coincidence this movie begins on the same day that became true. Winchester ‘73 was clearly created as an enticing advertisement of the West. This idea of a new beginning was much needed following WWII, which is reflected in the popularity of this movie.