A few years later, audiences were paying to see western stars replaced by women. Low-budget whiz Roger Corman made three such films, the rarest being Oklahoma Woman (1956; July 9). This amusingly threadbare effort pits a ruthless female saloon owner against her ex-con boyfriend and a whole town, and includes, as do many of Corman's films, a lengthy catfight. The marketers tried to dress it up with a hysterical ad campaign -- "Queen of the Outlaws! Queen of Sin!" screamed the poster -- but fans of women in men's clothes beating the hell out of each other didn't need encouragement.
Warhol's demented sendup Lonesome Cowboys (1967; July 16) offers more western drag. The plot is enchantingly mindless, with perpetually stoned queen Taylor Mead trying vaguely to protect "landowner" Viva from the lax attentions of a troupe of homo cowpokes, among them Joe Dallesandro. These aging "cowboys" seem less interested in Viva than in bed-hopping, practicing their ballet, and pinching each other's nipples.
Of the three spaghetti westerns in this program, Don't Touch the White Woman! (1974; July 22) sounds the most promising, with Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni, and a sweatshop where Indian curios are made by "oppressed white women." Best not to miss the highly regarded The Big Gundown (1966; July 30) either, which is scored by the glorious Ennio Morricone and stars the iconically laconic Leone veteran Lee Van Cleef. The series opens at 8 p.m. Friday with Pursued at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-ARTS.
-- Gary Morris