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Patrick Adamson (University of St Andrews), "Transnationalism and the Transcontinental Railroad: Exporting the Silent Epic Western”

The Covered Wagon (1923) has long been regarded as a landmark in the development of both the western genre and the historical film. Paramount’s epic, along with the cycle of large-form westerns which followed it, garnered unprecedented acclaim from filmmakers, film critics, and social commentators alike for being first ‘authentic’ visualization of the Frontier heritage by which many contemporary thinkers defined American identity. Existing scholarship attributes this resonance almost entirely to Hollywood studios’ successful ‘exploitation’ of contemporary nationalistic sentiment. However, as this paper contends, the motion picture’s historical West was ...
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