WESTWARD THE WOMEN: TEN OF THE BEST FEMALE CHARACTERS IN WESTERNS

MULTIGLOM

Gail Russell as "Annie Greer" in Seven Men from Now (1956) Gail Russell as “Annie Greer” in Seven Men from Now (1956)

As Tommy Lee Jones’ gritty and surprising western The Homesman reminds us, the Old West, with its lawlessness and hardscrabble way of life, was a tough place for everyone – but it was particularly tough for women. Westerns are not best known for their female characters, who are often reduced to madonna or whore stereotypes, the good girl representing idealised civilisation and domesticity while the bad girl is some sort of chanteuse or loose woman who sometimes ends up sacrificing herself so that the ungrateful hero can dedicate himself to settling down with her more virtuous rival.

Pairings such as prim Clementine versus sexy Chihuahua in My Darling Clementine (I once took my mum to see a rerelease of this and then berated her for having named me Anne instead of Chihuahua) or ice-cool quaker Amy versus hot-damn Helen…

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