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Past Event Cowboy Cinema

The black and white image is taken from the 1939 black and white film, Stagecoach, starring the American actor John Wayne. In the image, actors John Wayne (on the left) and Claire Trevor (on right) face one another, in conversation. Wayne’s demeanor and expression are calm as he casually leans onto the wooden fence standing in between the two of them. He loosely wears a wide-brimmed, tan cowboy hat and a dark jacket. On the right, Trevor leans in towards Wayne. Her attitude appears serious—her brows are wrinkled and her hands are held closely together resting on the fence. Though the background is out of focus, the dim outline of tree branches suggests that the two are outside. At the bottom of the image there are subtitles in Farsi translating the dialogue. Translation is not available.

John Wayne and Claire Trevor in Stagecoach, 1939 with Farsi subtitles.
Courtesy Westchester Films.

Artist Farhad Moshiri’s lavish canvases draw inspiration from the tropes of the classic American Westerns he absorbed as a child in his father’s cinema in Iran. For artists like Moshiri and Andy Warhol alike, the cowboy represents an enduring symbol of American identity, culture, and aspiration, and serves as fodder for their own pop compositions. Join film scholar Dr. Mark Best and Chief Curator Jose Diaz as they discuss campy clips from Elvis Presley’s Flaming Star, John Wayne classics dubbed in Farsi, the Marx Brothers’ Go West, Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys, and more, unpacking the romantic myth of the cowboy and its influence in global popular culture.

Sponsored by the Film Studies Program, University of Pittsburgh.