Not originally a big Western fan, I'd decided to bite the bullet and grit my teeth for the next couple weeks when we it was first announced we'd be delving into a seemingly irrelevant, cliche-ridden unit . Of course, now I've swallowed that bullet and eaten any misconceived notions I had about Westerns.
With that confession out of the way, let's move on to the meat of this blog post. Perhaps it's because I'm a young lady (read: not a girl, but not yet a woman) myself that I can't seem to snag my teeth into any other topic than that concerning the women--more specifically our beloved whores--in both Stagecoach and Unforgiven.
In John Ford's Stagecoach we were blessed with the surprisingly sweet and passive Dallas. Our poor, delicate blonde-haired prostitute was being run out of town, and didn't seem to be putting up much of a fight either. Ultimately, she caught the eye of our reluctant hero, Ringo, and by the end of the movie she'd risen above the dishonorable position of a prostitute to a surely soon-to-be wife. In Stagecoach Dallas, and our other main female character Mrs. Mallory, both played rather passive roles not doing much to push the story forward other than to serve as some motivation for our ruggedly handsome hero(es). Every good Western hero needs a DID (Damsel In Distress), right? Our spicy, Unforgiven whores beg to differ.
In stark contrast to the quiet, reserved Dallas we have the indignant leader of Skinny's whore-house; Strawberry Alice. Alice and her followers don't push--they forcefully shove the plot-line of Unforgiven into motion. Not content to just sit around and let unjust things happen to her or her brothel-mates, Alice is defiant, fiery, strong and powerful for a woman in her position. As Strawberry Alice would say "Just because we let them ride us like horses don't mean we have to let them treat us like horses," and she does her best to live by those words standing up for whatever dignity she and her coworkers are trying to preserve.
Interestingly, despite the stronger role Strawberry Alice is granted, at times I feel she goes overboard--namely when she pairs Davy with Quick Mike as far as the cutting of Delilah's face goes. There are times I wanted to smack some sense into her and point out that Davy shouldn't have simply been guilty by association. My heart went out to him when he was being pelted after going above and beyond to try and show his remorse and make up for what happened Delilah. Similarly, just as how I find Alice's man-hater ways a pesky annoyance I was similarly bothered by what a passive, weak character Dallas was. However, despite both character's flaws, they both brought a different, yet necessary flavor to their respective movies, Strawberry Alice full of zest and spice and Dallas satisfying our sweet tooth.
P.S. I think my favorite female character between the two movies was Claudia.