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Manifest Destiny & Mexican-American War Movies & TV

The Lash (1930)

This 1930s talkie delves into the often tumultuous relationship between American migrants and Spanish-speaking Californians in the immediate aftermath of the Mexican-American War.

The Big Trail (1930)

Shot entirely on location in the rural Midwest, this classic bit of Western cinema pits wagon train pioneers against roving bands of murderous Indians and the hostile wilderness. That which would be considered a cliché today was then a widely accepted narrative of the Old West. See it if for no other reason than to catch actor John Wayne in his first leading role.

How The West Was Won (1962)

This Oscar-winning saga traces American westward expansion during the mid-nineteenth century using the experiences of two migrant families. Henry Fonda and Carroll Baker star as leading members of the Prescott and Rawlings clans who venture west to find fortune and ultimately settle in California.

500 Nations: Removal – War and Exile in the East (1995)

This episode of a six-part series on the deep and complex history of Native Americans follows the brutal Trail of Tears that led not only to the displacement of tens of thousands of families but also to the death of large portions of the Seminole, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek populations.

Ravenous (1999)

An antebellum-era thriller! In it, Australian actor Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) stars as Captain John Boyd, an American commanding officer during the Mexican-American War who is sent to defend Fort Spencer, a curious outpost deep in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. What happens when he and the other inhabitants encounter the mysterious lone survivor of an ill-fated frontier expedition? Be warned: this is a gruesome horror flick, so those under 17 should stick to our other, less terrifying recommendations.

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