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The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: Return of the Western

With the Coen brothers’ latest venture coming to Netflix later this year, an anthology series set in the wild west and starring Tim Blake Nelson, now seems as good a time as any to step back and look at what exactly makes the Western genre so dang popular. Whether it’s long shots of the mountain ranges in the background, the sheer manliness of the cowboys helping the poor folk around them, or a tense showdown with revolvers that feels even more suspenseful than a game of Russian Roulette. The Western has endured throughout the years and with good reason!

Starting in 1903 with The Great Train Robbery, the Western proved an immensely popular new type of film that gained solid ground throughout the first few decades of its existence, becoming increasingly popular and getting a sizeable boost after World War II with John Wayne standing proud as an icon of American manliness and assertiveness. It’s estimated that in the fifty years between 1910 and 1960 that about 25% of all films made featured cowboys, and the TV landscape looked much the same in broadcasting terms.

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