Stagecoach: The Story of a Hat

The cinematography in Stagecoach was very interesting. As I was watching it, I mulled over how each scene induced emotion, how each moment of contrast and space indicated a differing move. Moreover, I couldn’t help but notice how Ringo’s hat changed according to the emotions he portrayed and the ones I felt.


I thought the best way to go about the film was through a chronological format. Here we see three ladies talking. Each one has a banister neatly framing their heads, and they stand from shortest to tallest, wearing the darkest colors to the lightest. The women portray a deep sense of concern in the way they look from one to the other. This shot caught my eye because of how neat and orderly it is, just as the women themselves appear to be. I couldn’t help but feel the order and the concern in their expressions rather ironic against one another. They are in perfect composure outwardly, yet they appear to be otherwise internally.


Meet Ringo. He’s dirty, tired, and his hat is askew. Ringo’s hat is going to tell us the rest of our emotional cues for the remainder of the film. For now, the hat is tilted in a disheveled manner, as if Ringo hasn’t had time to fix it. Ringo himself looks very tired, and due to the minimalist background, you can’t help but look at all the dirt and the way his suspenders are pushed to one side.


The scenery in this film is usually pointing to the Wild West, with its strange natural columns and vast deserts, when the scenes transition. This indicates the passage of time and movement without specifically marking the days. Once a scene like this appears, the viewer knows they’ll be getting to a different town soon.

Dat Hat

Here’s Ringo’s hat again. It’s here to tell us he’s in a good mood. It’s straighter, except now one side of it is flipped up. This particular scene leads into him slowly looking up and making eye contact with the woman of his fancy for the duration of this film. His hat is here to tell us that things are looking up for Ringo. Additionally, the hat takes up most of the frame in this shot until Ringo slowly reveals his face. This move builds a kind of suspense as Dallas (the woman Ringo fancies) watches him. Then they make eye contact, and Ringo looks just as cocky as his hat does. Dallas eventually looks away.

Lighting Contrast

The lighting in this scene lacks a great deal of contrast. Other than some faded lights over Ringo’s head, the only really visible parts are the two characters’ faces, the hat (which is mostly straight for this scene — very serious), and Dallas’ dress. The two characters contrast each other while they talk privately, putting forth the “opposites attract” move, in which the woman appears in lighter colors than the man.

So Sad

This scene is a very serious one. After a chase and some shooting, Ringo watches as one of their friends dies. His hat is mournfully tilted forward as he is framed by the coach’s doorway. He looks into the scene mournfully, the background moving behind him despite what’s happening within.

Overall, Stagecoach had a great deal of interesting movements and photographic choices. Ringo’s hat, especially, indicated emotion, while wide-open scenery over the caravan depicted the passage of time. Each move told a story in its own, giving the viewer a feeling of joy, suspense, wonder, and sorrow. The film itself worked as a great example of what our reading discussed earlier this week, and while I only used a few examples, I admit I had several more that I considered putting in. I had to stop myself from pausing the movie every few minutes to screenshot an image that really caught my eye.

3 thoughts on “Stagecoach: The Story of a Hat

  1. This was a very good response about the cinematography within the movie stagecoach. I also watched this movie for this blog post response, but I really like how you analyzed one object (the hat) in different scenes throughout the movie.

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