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October 01, 2007

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High Noon, Revisited

Being a child of the 1950s, I absorbed a fatal dose of both movie and TV westerns, and what I learned from them was that every living soul in the Old West used the Colt Model 1873 Army revolver and the Winchester Model 92 or 94 lever-action rifle (which was a neat trick, as both these guns were invented when the Old West was history).

The other thing I learned was that all gunfights were conducted face to face under a rigidly observed code of honor. This, like the gun stuff, was road apples. All sorts of guns were used on the frontier, and the average gunfighter or sheriff of those times was about as chivalrous as the average gang member is today. (If you'd like an accurate description of the gunslinging business, rent Unforgiven and pay close attention to Gene Hackman's unforgettable soliliquy in the sherrif's office. If you are of a literary bent, get Glendon Swarthout's western novel The Shootist. Forget the dreadful movie that was made from it.)

About the only face-to-face shootout I know of happened in Springfield, MO in 1865, and involved one Dave Tutt and the lovely and talented James Butler Hickok. They went for their guns at 75 yards. One version has each man getting off one shot; the other has Hickok firing once as Tutt fired several times. In any event, Hickok killed Tutt fair and square. Hickok was killed 11 years later by a single shot in the back of the head from a distance of a foot. This was the way business was typically done.

Of all the Old West handguns, the Colt was the most popular. But there were plenty of others. A lot of people packed percussion Civil War revolvers, or had them converted to cartridge use. The Remington Model 1875 was highly thought of, and Smith & Wesson made two popular models called the Schofield (after the Army officer who invented it) and the Russian (so-called because it was developed for the Russian Army). All these were single-action, but there was at least one double-action around--the Colt Lightning Model, which Billy the Kid favored.

The gun that Hollywood has always given short shrift is the shotgun. They were used a lot. The preferred model was a 10-gauge short-barreled exposed-hammer Greener. Shotguns figure in few gunfights because even the drunkest, dumbest cowhand got smart and sober real fast when looking down those two big barrels and decided he had pressing business elsewhere.

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Comments

Tommy

A 12 gauge stays in my closet with 2 - 00 buckshot ready to be hammered at all times.
And if I ain't home - hell, even the wife knows that chambering that bad boy at night, in the dark, will most likely end any intruder's ideas. If the two dogs don't first.

Yo amor mi escopeta!

suburban bushwacker

"This, like the gun stuff, was road apples."
Nice turn of phrase.
SBW

JA Demko

There's room for more realistic westerns. I, for one, would find a realistic portrayal of a bunch of drunk, filthy, syphilitics back-shooting each other rather fascinating.

jstreet

JA Demko wrote:

There's room for more realistic westerns. I, for one, would find a realistic portrayal of a bunch of drunk, filthy, syphilitics back-shooting each other rather fascinating.

Hey JA,

If that's what you want to see, just go the the political conventions next summer.


Jim

Black Rifle Addict

I think growing up, and being dumb to factual history, made the spaghetti westerns that much more enjoyable.
Hell, the old western movies is the reason my first rifle purchase was a Win-94.

Walt Smith

My favorite has always been The Outlaw Josey Wales,especially when faced by 5 union soldiers unexpectedly in a town Clint asks them "You gonna skin them pistols or whistle dixie?" then guns them all down while they're trying to get their guns out of their covered holsters.Oh yeah, his spitting on everything was pretty classic also. Here's a question for you. Why did Wild Bill prefer the .36cal. over the .44cal?

Steve C

I think movie and TV westerns have always been more about culture than history. Good thing too since Roy Rogers would have been a drunk slob and Miss Kitty would have had a more intimate relationship with Marshall Dillon than was allowed by 1950s censors.

For another good western, see Tom Horn with Steve McQueen. Remarkably accurate.

Bubba

DEP
There was another real, documented, shoot-'em up in Fort Worth, Texas in front of the White Elephant Saloon during the cattle drive days. Don't remember the combatants nor the outcome, other than only one died of GSW. One was either sheriff or deputy, the other, probably drunken cowboy! The Stockyards, as the area is called these days, is full of a rich history when Ft Worth was a stop on the trail and after it became a railhead. According to the historians, the area was loaded with brothels, saloons and gambling houses. The numbers of cattle that passed through the area and were slaughtered (processed) there by both Armor(Armour?) Packing and Swift Packing runs in the millions.
Shootings were rather commonplace. Fort Worth also has some pretty wild stories, some pretty well documented, from the Pro-hibition era along the Jacksboro Hwy. Probably not many single action wheel guns used then!

Bubba

Bubba

I loved all the old shoot-em-up movies except C. Eastwood's 'ghetti's, it sounded as though every shot ricocheted!
Favorite scene is where he KO's lady in the basement!!!
My favorite Eastwood is "Pale Rider"
My pop thought "Gunsmoke" was IT!!

Bubba

Tommy

You tell him Wyatt Earp's comin', and hell is comin' with me!

That movie was pretty good, except when they sped it all up at the end and it looked like some kind of musical.

Tommy

''Go ahead, skin that smoke wagon and see what happens.''

Classic - as he slaps the armed dealer in the face and cops his saloon seat - and takes his stakes.

Tommy

Of course guys...

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

How could we possibly forget that.

Or...

Little Big Man

Or...

''I ain't got nothin' to say to that SOB. I reckon I'll hold a grudge against him til I die for what happened to...''
Name that western.
Pretty new.

Tommy

One hint - Duval said the above line.

Tommy

Great Movie, in spite of the other lead actor, whom I have never been a big fan. He did a great job on this one though.

Tommy

''I'll be your huckleberry.''

Val Kilmer was priceless as ''Doc''.

Ralph the Rifleman

...from True Grit:"Bury them" "You mean they're dead?" "I wouldn't ask you bury them if they weren't dead!"
What a classic dialog!

Bubba

Tommy

"Open Range"

Probably about as authentic a western as I've seen lately, though I thought shoot-out between Duval and cattle baron inside jail was a bit much!
But it's just "entertainment"!
Costner did do very well in that movie even though I don't care that much for him.
Always thought Roy, Tex, Cheyenne, and all those other guys were "hot-stuff"!
So was "My Friend Flicka", "Fury" (and the boy who loved him!), "Sky King"... etc. etc.

Bubba

Bubba

How about Eli Wallach sitting in tub full of suds telling dead man..."If you're gonna shoot! Shoot! Don't talk!"

Bubba

Tommy

Very Good Bubba.

Want another teaser?

Tommy

''What are you gonna do when you see him?''
''Is that the gun you're gonna shoot him with?''
''Can I hold it?''

Pretty new too, but a classic scene.

Bubba

Won't make any promises Tommy, I don't know all of them!
"Shoot, stranger! We'll see who walks away!" he said as he adjusted his gun belt!

Bubba

Tommy

Sounds like John Wayne.

Tommy

I would GUESS Big Jake or The Son's of Katie Elder?

Mike Diehl

"Big Jake" still plays well. Not sure where it fits in the "reality check" scheme o' things.

Bubba

Sorry guys, just my reply to Tommy!
"Sling a 'nuthern out there boy! I'll see if I can hit 'er!" he slurred, drawing his Colt from it's holster!

Bubba




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