The American West has been mythollogised as a particularly male domain—a filmic horizon of flat plains, rugged hills, treacherous mountain ridges and commanding precipices in which cowboys, ranchers, gamblers, bandits and sheriffs create a human existence that parallels the variety and rawness of the landscape. Within this world the men are actively mobile, whether on horseback, stagecoach, wagon or train. Indeed, mobility and movement are often definitive of the ‘lone western hero’. The women, if they exist, are peripheral figures, for the most part stationary and static: in a home as a ‘good’ woman, or in a saloon as a ‘bad’ woman. If they move at all—such as in a stagecoach or in a wagon train—they are shown to be fragile and in need of male protection, always potentially ‘at risk’.
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