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  • Sam Darling

Cliché of Western Film

I am going to let you in on a secret today. This is a secret cliché that hides in plain sight.

[It is reasonably certain that folks have noticed this but I’ve never seen it published anywhere, so I’m going to put it into the universe here.]

This cliché has to do with the image below. And once I let you in on this you will see it everywhere. Are you ready?


In every movie where two characters are going to end up together, they must first dance together and/or get wet in some fashion. This happens in every movie with a romantic coupling.

Every. Time.

Now you know this consciously but you already knew it. Part of you is thinking, “duh.” Except… it’s everywhere. Even when the screenwriter hasn’t written such a scene in the script the filmmakers will add one of the characters dancing together or getting wet in some fashion. The most obvious examples are kisses in the rain, but it can happen in all sorts of ways.

In a lifetime of watching movies, I’ve found only two exceptions to this rule. I can even tell when a foreign film is heavily influenced by Western cinema as they will do it, too.

Go ahead, try finding a few exceptions and post them in the comments here. I challenge you.

I’ll start with two that come to my mind: Jerry Maguire (which breaks a lot of conventions).

I did have someone mention The Princess Bride as a possible exception to which I decree: Almost. The romantic couple technically take a swim in the Lightning Sand when Westley saves Buttercup, except, of course, that they don’t get wet. This movie is a great example of a self-aware film that that takes genre convention and twists it to its own purpose.

Another rare almost exception I’ll mention: A Room with a View In this, Lucy catches George skinny dipping with her brother Freddy and the Rev Mister Beebe. She sees him in the forest all naked and wet but they don’t technically have a swim together. I also find this movie to be a brilliant reworking of many conventions. I might even go so far as to argue that the choice of Lucy and George’s first kiss in the poppy field deliberately mimics the look of them up to their waist in a “sea” of flowers.

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