What Is a Western? Interview Series: No Man's Land

Autry curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews brothers Jake Allyn (co-writer and star) and Conor Allyn (director) about No Man’s Land, their contemporary Western that explores issues of immigration and violence in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

This interview is part of a series exploring the significance of the Western genre and the ways in which the pop culture shapes our understanding of the American West. If you’re interested in seeing past interviews, visit the series page.


What is a Western? Interview Series: No Man’s Land

Interested in learning more about the films and ideas discussed in the interview? 

To Watch

No Man’s Land (2021)

The Mustang (2019) Based on an actual rehabilitation program in Carson City Nevada, this story of a violent convict who trains a wild mustang dramatizes the complex notion of freedom—both physical and emotional—for man and horse.

Unforgiven (1992), starring Eastwood as gunfighter William Munny brought out of retirement for one last job, this revisionist Western critiqued the violence of the genre and won four Academy Awards.

Wind River (2017), one of the “modern Westerns” mentioned by Jake and Conor Allyn, directed by Taylor Sheridan and set within today’s crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

No Country for Old Men (2007), another “modern Western,” based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy and directed by the Coen Brothers.

Silverado (1985) Jake Allyn is named after Kevin Costner’s character in this big-budget tribute to the classic Western.

Lonesome Dove (1989) Based on a novel by Larry McMurtry, this award-winning TV miniseries is credited with reinvigorating both the format and the genre, attracting an estimated 26 million viewers.

The Ride Back (1957), starring Anthony Quinn, The Ride Back tells the story of an accused killer seeking refuge in Mexico, pursued by an American marshal after fleeing Texas. The movie is significant for depicting Spanish-speaking dialogue, bilingual intercultural communication, and non-caricatured Mexicans.

To Read

Gloria Andalzúa,  Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. (1987)

Monica Muñoz Martinez, The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas  (2018).

Explores the little known, yet devastating period of violence in Texas in the early twentieth century. Under the auspices of protecting Anglo-American settlers, Texas Rangers and vigilantes alike wrought havoc upon Mexicans, turning the rural lands of the Lone Star State into a hotbed of police violence and state-sanctioned racial terror.