Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

In the Warner Brothers film Casablanca (1941), when the innocent young woman from Bulgaria asks cynical American saloon owner Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) what the prefect of police, Captain Renault (Claude Raines), is like and whether he will keep his word, Rick replies: "He's just like any other man, only more so." And at the end of Orson...

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1. Introduction: Ride the High Country, or "They Went Thataway";

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pp. 1-24

Many men of my generation can remember, often with the help of an old family photo album, their childhood fascination for what sometimes we see referred to as the Silver Screen Cowboys. I am one of these men. What interests me now is the role the cowboys and the films they starred in played in forming a general notion of masculinity that we now...

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2. Cowboy Codes: Straight and Pure and All Boy

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pp. 25-43

I remember having an ambivalent relationship with codes when I was young. The codes of honour and conduct that I was supposed to accept as a Wolf Cub and a Boy Scout made me uneasy; I did not like the association of military discipline with codes of behaviour. On the other hand, I felt an attraction to the personal code (most often unstated in the films)...

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3. When We Were Young: Nostalgia and the Cowboy Hero

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pp. 45-60

To take an interest in the past, especially one's personal past, does not necessarily mean that one is nostalgic, at least in any sentimental sense. I have no desire to return to a childhood past that I remember as troubled and difficult. If nostalgia is a feeling of loss and a desire to...

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4. Arms and the Man: The Friendly Gun

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pp. 61-82

I have few pictures of myself as a boy, but one of these, taken in 1954, shows a family gathering in which I am front and centre (figure 4.1). Behind me are my parents, my sister, my maternal grandparents, and an aunt. I am nine years old. Everyone in the photograph stands and smiles; everyone is inactive, everyone but me. I have my shoulders slightly hunched...

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5. Give Me My Boots and Saddles: Camp Cowboy

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pp. 83-103

When we were kids, we were acutely aware of the clothes our heroes wore. And I'll note at the outset that makers of films and marketers of clothing were acutely aware of our awareness. Heroes represented money in the bank for manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers of cowboy clothing for kids. And by clothing, I include everything from shirts...

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6. Tall in the Saddle: Romance on the Range

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pp. 105-120

What is a cowboy without a horse? Whatever he is, he is incomplete. Cowboy and horse not only complement each other, they allow each other to function in proper western fashion. When I was young I had visions of myself riding tall in the saddle. The Bates family lived across the street from where I lived, and the Bates family had a small corral at...

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7. White Hats and White Heroes: Who Is That Other Guy?

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pp. 121-141

Growing up in a small town in eastern Ontario, I had little opportunity to see people who did not reflect my own ethnic and racial background. The town had a few stores owned by people with names such as Wiseman and Smolkin, and a restaurant or two owned by the Ings and the Wongs, but generally the town was pretty much like the one described...

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8. Virgin Land: Landscape, Nature, and Masculinity

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pp. 143-161

My sister recently reminded me that when we were young we used the railings on our front porch as horses and rode pell-mell through our imaginary western landscape. I remember placing a pillow over the banister upstairs in our house, securing it with a belt, and, using the cord from my nightgown for reins, galloping through my imaginary landscape....

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9. Corporate Cowboys and the Shaping of a Nation

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pp. 163-175

George W. Bush lives much of the time in Texas; he wears a cowboy hat; he speaks a cowboy lingo; he is just about my age. George W. Bush grew up pretty much at the same time I grew up, and no doubt he was as immersed in the culture of his time as I was. And that culture was a cowboy culture. I’m speaking of the 1940s and '50s when cowboys were...

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Postscript: The Frontiersman (1938)

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pp. 177-180

Iconclude with a discussion of the Hopalong Cassidy film The Frontiersman. The title pretty much tells it all. The American frontier supposedly closed in 1892, and in 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner celebrated its influence on the American character in his famous essay. But the man who represented the frontier continues to occupy our cultural attitudes to...

List of Films Mentioned

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pp. 181-190

References

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pp. 191-198

Index

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pp. 199-208