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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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Home and the Range: Spencer’s Mountain as Revisionist Family Melodrama

Home and the Range: Spencer’s Mountain as Revisionist Family Melodrama

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter 6 Home and the Range: Spencer’s Mountain as Revisionist Family Melodrama
Source:
ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves
Author(s):

Joseph Pomp

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403016.003.0007

Joseph Pomp offers an analysis of Spencer’s Mountain, a film Daves’ adapted from the novel by Earl Hamner Jr. He observes that Daves’ lack of recognition by auteur theorists was that he often delved into melodramatic themes in his Westerns, themes out of favour with those who preferred the course masculinity of a John Ford or a Raoul Walsh, and who associated the melodrama with a female audience. Pomp suggests that Spencer’s Mountain provides a key window into Daves’ views on American family values, education, and class, arguing that Daves deconstructed melodrama’s ‘classic realist’ paradigm by considering a nascent feminist agenda that undermines the patriarchal underpinnings of the source novel. This, argues Pomp, creates an unusual mix – rendering Spencer’s Mountain different from most other Westerns of the period but also different from most melodramas. Ultimately, Pomp argues, Spencer’s Mountain suggests that fierce, heroic individualism has no place in Daves’ cinematic universe.

Keywords:   Melodrama, Western, American Family, Class, Patriarchy, 1960s

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