Joe Wyatt
Published August 14, 2018

Amarillo College and the Center for the Study of the American West (CSAW) at West Texas A&M University are collaborating to screen and discuss two classic western films this month at AC.

MovieInThe films will be John Ford’s 1956 The Searchers, on Aug. 22, and John Huston’s 1960 The Unforgiven, on Aug. 23. The screenings will be at 7 p.m. in Amarillo College’s Concert Hall Theater. Each will be preceded by a brief introduction by CSAW director Alex Hunt and followed by a panel discussion that will encourage audience participation.

“We have had many well-attended events in Canyon,” Hunt said, “but it seems like time for CSAW to put on an event in Amarillo. Collaborating with Amarillo College to watch and discuss these great westerns seemed like a perfect summertime event.”

Both The Searchers and The Unforgiven are set in West Texas. Produced during the early days of the Civil Rights movement, they reflect the social anxieties about race and justice of their day against the historical screen of the Comanche and Kiowa frontier.

“With Westerns by two great directors, John Ford and John Huston, and stars like John Wayne and Burt Lancaster, you can expect action,” Jay O’Brien, an Amarillo rancher and panel participant, said. “But both of these movies have drama and emotional conflicts related to race and the hardships of the West. These are not normal cowboy and Indian movies.”

WTAMU historian Bryan Vizzini, also on the discussion panel, added “The Searchers and The Unforgiven, along with director John Ford’s earlier Stagecoach, arguably established the template for the modern Western (as well as its later, revisionist updates) as a reflection of uniquely American ideals and conflicts.”

In addition to CSAW, the event is supported by WTAMU’s Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages, Department of Communications and Department of History, as well as AC’s Matney Mass Media Program and departments of English and Social and Behavioral Sciences. WTAMU’s Cornette Library also is a sponsor and secured the screening rights to the films.

“With all the great support from WT and AC and strong interest from the community, I’m confident we will have a nice turnout,” Hunt said. “And given these films, I’m sure there will be lively discussion.”

CSAW was founded in 2016 with the mission of fostering interdisciplinary study of the West at WTAMU and to promote the relevance of western studies in the community. For more information, contact CSAW director Alex Hunt at 806-651-5238 or