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There’s a Western riding into town……

March 10, 2022 9:00:00 AM EST | There’s a Western riding into town……

Westerns are riding into town at the Capitol Theatre! So, mosey on down to the Capitol this month and watch a little justice being served.

“Baby Sister, I was born game and I aim to go out that way.” – Rooster Cogburn


The Western on film - a topic that has been around for almost 130 years. The first westerns put to celluloid were shorts done at Edison Studios in 1894. They featured performers from BUFFALO BILL’S WILD WEST SHOW, including Annie Oakley. THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY is considered by many to be the first genre western (although this is debated in some circles). It was the first to establish the traditional Western genre narrative – crime, pursuit, retribution. That formula has held true to the modern era. Does anybody see that pattern in YELLOWSTONE?


The Western has dominated both film and television since its inception. Stars like Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood rose to fame through their portrayals of the good, the bad, or the ugly of the late 19th and early 20th century in America. On television, Bonanza ran for 14 years. Gunsmoke ran for 20. Even our local-feeling, ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW owes a lot to the Western genre. And in modern times series such as JUSTIFIED, LONGMIRE, DEADWOOD, and, of course, YELLOWSTONE, continue the wild west tales.


The “cliches” of the Western genre have never lost their appeal. Similar to Arthurian tales, the stories involve a code of honor, usually involving a wanderer – a cowboy or gunfighter – who has to rescue a damsel, fulfill a quest or have a duel – showdown – to the death. The elements of crime, pursuit, and retribution coupled with a remote place – a town or a ranch, peppered with gambling, drinking, and women, tell small morality plays with clear-cut “justice”. Other standards of the genre are railroad construction, ranchers protecting their families, outlaw gangs, bounty hunters, resources like water or gold, and Native Americans. And all of these continue to intrigue, fascinate, and attract audiences.


Perhaps John Wayne said it best – “Don’t ever for a minute make the mistake of looking down your nose at Westerns. They’re ART – the good ones, I mean. They deal in life and sudden death and primitive struggle, and with the basic emotions – love, hate, and anger – thrown in. We’ll have Western films as long as the cameras keep turning. The fascination that the Old West has will never die.”


One of the challenges in operating a movie theatre is trying to schedule and rent titles that audiences will come to see. Horror, comedy, crime, science fiction – there are dozens of genres and tens of thousands of films to consider. I wanted to try and create some themes or structures for our films. So, I came up with some “campaigns” like Summer Blockbusters, Classic Horror Monsters, Christmas Favorites, etc.


This year, based in part on my daughter’s obsession and adoration of John Wayne, I wanted to have a Western Month. March is going to feature several Western genre films, some old and some more modern. We will have John Wayne in Rio Bravo and True Grit. Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. And a posse of great actors in the now-classic Tombstone. I am hoping that these titles will appeal to you and you’ll want to bring your family out to see these legendary films on the large screen. Mosey on down to the Capitol this month and watch a little justice being served.

Written By: David Horton - Executive Director