Home Index E-mail. Western Catfights Nineteenth century cowboys did not engage in fist fight.
Those knockdown male slugfest are, from a historical view, nonsense. The disputes of the time were handled just as fast as they are today by waring gangs or organized crime figures; with the blazing bullet. On the other hand the gals of the Old West, usually sporting women i. Unlike the male resolve in the Western fight scene, the female tussle had a far more realistic base from which to stand.
Which le us to the quintessential Western film catfight and possibly the most famous screen SHE-tangle.
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It's a hair-pulling, clothes-ripping, melee between salon bad-girl Marlene Dietrich and house wife good girl Una Markel over the return of a pair of pants Dietrich won from Merkel's husband in a card game. Both women display excellent brawling technique as they tear down table after table, each trying to best the other.
Though initially the wildcat, mighty Marlene is eventually given a dose of her own medicine when Markel fights back and proves the weary Germanic lass hasn't the Catfights to last the required rounds. Fortunately for Dietrich the fight is broken up by a pail of water tossed by Jimmy Stewart. In FRENCHIE a film often cited as a remake but actually based on Dietrich's western Shelley Winters is robbed of her victory in similar fashion when her brawl with beaten up Marie Windsor is ended by yet another tossed pail of water. This time it was Mari Blanchard against Mary Wickes in a tussle over a hat.
The battle is once again halted with the admission of a water bucket this time tossed by Audie Murphy.
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Some of the contests were merely conveniences for the leading man to have a lady companion who could take on a Catfights female. In fine form, Windsor takes the role of Iron Mae the spirited leader of an all-female town fighting to keep it self from being over run by a cavalry of male gunslingers with pistols loaded and cocked for the town's bank roll. In one scene she goes toe to toe with Jacqueline Fontaine in a fist and foul language free-or-all.
Sometimes the Western heroine was handy to have around because her intervention would often save the leading man from being killed by the film's villainess - an act of feminist panache that would have surely discredited the male hero from ever making any fans "Top Ten Tough Guys" list. The Western heroine is of further assistance when she confronts the villainess in an "extract the information" collision - where the western is reluctant to reveal and the heroine is forced into roughhouse tactics in order the change the woman's reticence to cooperation.
The defeated feline is then shown slip ping unconscious to the floor, her glazed eyes rolling up in their sockets. In their first encounter Hayward's kick to the husband-stealers rear-end proves only to be a temporary restraint.
Later Hayward gets rougher and knocks the woman down to persuade her to seek other male company. Her first match-up is relatively easy since all that is needed is a right cross that decks Lita Baron - who finds she's outclassed and retreats.
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Joan beats Audrey, kicking her when she's down. Westerner rises and hurls a spittoon which Joan ducks to avoid. She then rushes Audrey, pushes her atop the bar, slugs her unconscious then pulls her the length of the bar at which point she pounds Audrey's head into the floor and then drags the woman by her heels through the batwings to the outside. Not only is this Eastern gal a terrific catfighter, she's one hell of a bouncer.
For the most part the Western catfight is merely a reflection of those same issues which always had the men raising their fists. Of those issues the white man Vs the Indian figured very prominently.
To follow suit we had catfights along similar lines. Perhaps the most bizarre battle in the history of this cinema category this scene shows the women battling each other by "butting their breasts" together the camera angled up from beneath allowing for the best possible angle to catch all the flesh compressing action. The zesty match climaxes with the exhausted white gal pinned at knife point by her opponent.
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Though the Western women of the screen have various reasons to assault one another, some are hard to categorize other than under the general heading of catfights. It's only after DeCarlo slugs them, bangs their he together and throws them to the ground to pound their skulls onto the floor do the duo realize that beneath that ritzy proper exterior lies the abilities of a first-class fighting female.
As far as oddities go A. Two gals begin in a saloon and waste no time in tearing away the tops of their gowns to reveal very pleasing endowments. The fight then carries over into a street fight mud brawl that has the distinction of being the longest tussle in cinema history. Playing a madam-with-a-con science, Taylor insists her girls rest on Sunday and attend a bible study class in the parlour.
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Both ladies contest the disagreement by punching and tearing each other apart in a battle that extends from a hallway right down a flight of stairs. It's there that Taylor and Tyrell come face to I face with a solid I right hook from Liz that convinces sobbing Sue to crawl over to the assembled bible class.
Bardot looks great in her all black leather gun fighter outfit but it's sweet maiden Cardinale who gets in the most licks before the fight is broken up and a clear winner crowned. In retrospect there are literally dozens more femme-fatale westerns that we have not covered. While some may not contain the prerequisite "catfight" they more than make up for it with their ample doses of gunslinging action.
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