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I recently watched The Hateful Eight by Quentin Tarantino and became highly interested in his work. As a result I began researching his other films and came across a mashup interview featuring him in relation to Django Unchained. During this interview, he states:

There's only been five American movies, that have truly dealt with slavery in the western format...

Video starts at the point of reference for the quote.

I looked around but I couldn't find the movies he was referring to.


What are the five American western films that deal with slavery that Quentin Tarantino is referring to during that interview?

For the sake of being on-topic, please supply a link to Tarantino's list in your answer.

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    I don't think this is an "Identification" in the vein of what types of questions aren't allowed. There should be a definitive answer to this somewhere. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 0:13
  • It's probably going to be here somewhere en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_featuring_slavery
    – Luciano
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 10:01
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    It's an interesting question, but if Tarantino didn't mention his 5 films anywhere else, I wonder if he had a specific 5 in mind or was just guessing how many there might be. Without Tarantino's input it's hard to come up with a conclusive list because of the difficulty in defining what is a Western movie (I assume by "western format" he means the genre of cowboy films.) In particular there is a lot of overlap between classic westerns, cavalry pictures, modern westerns, and dramas around the Civil War and Reconstruction, and several of these treated slavery in sideplots but not centrally.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 11:11
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    @StuartF He was on the topic of spaghetti westerns so he could be referring to that specific category, but I concur overall with your statement. I've been trying to find it in that wiki link above, and no luck yet. I did come across this rather edgy article (read with caution, foul language present, surely NSFW), but I'm not so sure the titles there are what he was referring to either. However, I just found it this morning and haven't read it all yet. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 13:30

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I'm not sure which movies Tarantino had in mind, but some possibilities are (compiled from this list)

  1. Santa Fe Trail - Dramatizes the events leading up to John Brown's failed rebellion against slavery

  2. The Scalphunters - A comedy where a fur trader is robbed and "given" a highly educated runaway slave in return. The two spend the rest of the movie trying to reclaim the furs.

  3. Skin Game - A western comedy about slavery

    Quincy Drew (Garner) and Jason O'Rourke (Gossett) travel from town to town in the south of the United States during the slavery era. A flashback in the movie shows both men first met when Quincy sold Jason a horse- a stolen horse belonging to the local Sheriff. They meet again in jail after pulling various con jobs [in comic relief both end up with an Ace of Spade card from a crooked deck[!]; both then develop a con together in which Quincy claims to be a down-on-his-luck slave owner who is selling his only slave [Jason]. Quincy gets the bidding rolling, selling Jason, and the two later meet up to split the profit. Jason was born a free man in New Jersey and is very well educated. The twist comes when Jason is sold to a slave trader who is very savvy and intent on taking him down south to make a profit.

One not mentioned there (probably due to it being newer) could be Quigley Down Under (1990). It's set in Australia, but it's very much a Western in every other sense and there is clear slavery. The primary dispute arises when Quigley learns the man who wanted to hire him wants him to snipe aborigines.

The problem is (as Tarantino noted) that most westerns did not have slaves. This Indiewire list of spaghetti westerns that might have influenced Tarantino (warning: some movies have names with racial epithets) has movies that are westerns and movies that are about slavery, but none that intersect both. Some of that might have to do with the fact that slaves were not as common in the western US (not as many agricultural needs, and not as much population either).

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    side note; scholars estimate about 20-25% of the total cowboy/ranch workforce in the nineteenth century were African American, slave or otherwise. 20th century westerns tend to simply not have black actors.
    – Yorik
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 16:02
  • @Yorik And cowboys, being an occupational category, were a small fraction of the total population in the west, and not the typical western person. There were many African Americans in the west, with percentages varying over time and between locations, and having varying occpations. But nobody should ever confuse cowboys with the total American population of the west.. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 18:51
  • @M.A.Golding except in cowboy movies
    – Yorik
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 18:56
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    Appreciate the effort but the scope of the question has been refined and now requires a definitive list as defined by Tarantino.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 19:58
  • Same as @Paulie_D, only redefined to keep it on-topic because it's an interesting question IMHO. Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 20:01

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