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Border Bandits

Hollywood on the Southern Frontier

By Camilla Fojas

Publication Year: 2008

The southern frontier is one of the most emotionally charged zones in the United States, second only to its historical predecessor and partner, the western frontier. Though they span many genres, border films share common themes, trace the mood swings of public policy, and shape our cultural agenda. In this examination, Camilla Fojas studies how major Hollywood films exploit the border between Mexico and the United States to tell a story about U.S. dominance in the American hemisphere. She charts the shift from the mythos of the open western frontier to that of the embattled southern frontier by offering in-depth analyses of particular border films, from post–World War II Westerns to drug-trafficking films to contemporary Latino/a cinema, within their historical and political contexts. Fojas argues that Hollywood border films do important social work by offering a cinematic space through which viewers can manage traumatic and undesirable histories and ultimately reaffirm core “American” values. At the same time, these border narratives delineate opposing values and ideas. Latino border films offer a critical vantage onto these topics; they challenge the presumptions of U.S. nationalism and subsequent cultural attitudes about immigrants and immigration, and often critically reconstruct their Hollywood kin. By analyzing films such as Duel in the Sun, The Wild Bunch, El Norte, The Border, Traffic, and Brokeback Mountain, Fojas demands that we reexamine the powerful mythology of the Hollywood borderlands. This detailed scrutiny recognizes that these films are part of a national narrative comprised of many texts and symbols that create the myth of the United States as capital of the Americas.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-ix

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p. xi-xi

I would like to thank the many people who have supported this project in different ways. I owe a great debt to the DePaul Research Council and the DePaul Humanities Center. I would like to thank . . .

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Introduction Welcome to the Alamo Hollywood on the Border

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pp. 1-25

On January 26, 2006, the United States Border Patrol, working with agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency, discovered what many claim was the . . .

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Chapter 1 How the Southwest Was Won; Border Westerns and the Southern Frontier

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pp. 27-82

The western frontier has always been a defining symbol of the United States, signifying the wide and open range and the opportunity to . . .

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Chapter 2 “The Imaginary Illegal Alien”; Hollywood Border Crossers and Buddy Cops in the 1980s

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pp. 83-108

Hollywood films from the 1980s are so distinctive that we can identify them immediately, partly for their aesthetic but mostly for their mood, . . .

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Chapter 3 The “Narc” in All of Us; Border Media and the War on Drugs

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pp. 109-143

On February 10, 1986, just two months before Reagan signed a national security directive designating international drug trade a national security . . .

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Chapter 4 Urban Frontiers; Border Cinema and the Global City

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pp. 145-181

In March 2006, Angelinos staged the largest demonstration in the history of the city against a bill that would further demonize undocumented immigrants . . .

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Conclusion: Frontier Myths on the Line; Border Cinema Redux

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pp. 183-195

Since the beginnings of cinema, Hollywood has depicted the U.S-Mexico border as a lawless place ruled by a dark mythology, and home to every . . .


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pp. 197-210


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pp. 211-216


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pp. 217-225


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pp. 227-235

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794085
E-ISBN-10: 0292794088
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292718623
Print-ISBN-10: 0292718624

Page Count: 249
Illustrations: 31 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2008