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The western is a uniquely American movie genre Born at the turn-of-the-century at a time when motion pictures were still in their infancy the westerns visual potential was immediately apparent Gun duels between cowboys shootouts between heroes and bandits attacks by Indian warriors and chases between opponents on horseback were already the stuff of which Wild West shows of the kind presented by Buffalo Bill Cody and the Ringling Brothers were made Westerns were all the more alluring because of the available talent with which to produce them Many people were around who had made their living some of the time riding roping and branding out on the range and although many a well known outlaw and lawman including Doc Holliday Bill Doolin Jesse James and Billy the Kid had been buried in the settling of the West legendary figures on both sides of the law were still very much alive at the time including Wyatt Earp Bat Masterson and Frank James The first western film of any major note was the 1903 Edison production of Edwin S Porters The Great Train Robbery which with its linear story and carefully sequenced action scenes is also usually credited as the first movie to tell a complete dramatic story Its depiction of the robbery of a train and the subsequent pursuit of the bandits took viewers by storm and made a sensation of one of its players Max Aronson who later became famous as Bronco Billy Anderson Rather than a former cowboy Anderson was a failed vaudeville performer who found his abilities as a stuntman put to good service in early movies He co-founded the Essenay company which not only served as a home for some of Charlie Chaplins best work but produced 400 one-reel westerns with Anderson as star before he retired in 1920 Much closer to the real West were three actors who came to westerns during the second decade of the twentieth century Tom
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