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ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves$
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Matthew Carter and Andrew Nelson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403016

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403016.001.0001

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Trying to Ameliorate the System from Within: Delmer Daves’ Westerns from the 1950s

Trying to Ameliorate the System from Within: Delmer Daves’ Westerns from the 1950s

(p.63) Chapter 2 Trying to Ameliorate the System from Within: Delmer Daves’ Westerns from the 1950s
ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves

John White

Edinburgh University Press

John Anthony White discusses a number of Daves’ 1950s Westerns. From Broken Arrow, 3.10 to Yuma, and Cowboy to films he not only directed but for which he was also wrote the screenplay, Drum Beat, The Last Wagon, and Jubal. White contextualises his analysis in the political turmoil of the House of Un-American Activities Committee, legislative fears over miscegenation, and the growing Civil Rights movement. He considers Daves’ auteur credentials in the face of studio constraints and through his screenwriting collaborations. Despite some of the associated screenwriters holding wildly differing political attitudes, White demonstrates that they all worked with Daves to produce films that espoused a signature commonality of the director’s own liberal sentiments: sympathy for diffident races and compassion for the class struggles of the working poor against industrial capitalism. Furthermore, White’s discussion of Daves and his work with different screenwriters emphasises the complexities of the genre’s so-called ‘classical’ period.

Keywords:   Western, HUAC, Miscegenation, Civil Rights, Hollywood, ‘Classical’ Western, 1950s

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