Tag: Western Movies

1870’s with a 30’s Twist

I love early western movies—those made in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s. These movies were made close enough to the times they portrayed—the 1860s-1890’s—that the sets, the clothing, the horse gear, have a fighting chance of being fairly accurate. And if they’re not accurate, at least they’re interesting.

This weekend I watched Zane Grey’s To the Last Man, which was filmed in 1933. It wasn’t the most accurate western I’ve ever seen clothing-wise…but it was interesting.

The story was one of young love redeeming feuding families. The Colby and Hayden families have feuded in Kentucky for generations. After the Civil War, Jed Colby (Noah Beery Sr.) goes to prison for murdering a Hayden, and the Hayden family heads to Nevada, leaving Lynn Hayden (Randolph Scott) behind to take care of the homestead. When Jed gets out of prison, he goes to Nevada, to seek revenge against the Haydens. Lynn is hot on his heels, hoping to stop the violence. Matters are further complicated by the fact that Lynn’s in love with Ellen Colby (Esther Ralston) and the two hope to marry.  I loved the final shootout, where people were actually reloading weapons, and the reloading took some time, just like it does in real life. The women are shooting as much as the men.

So, back to the clothing… no matter how bad an old movie might be, I can entertain myself looking at the fashions. Men’s. Women’s. Horse’s.

In this movie Randolph Scott wore buckskin. So did the heroine—and she
showed a fair amount of leg, even though the movie took place after the Civil War, probably in the very late 1860’s or early 1870’s. Was this accurate? Probably not–the leg part anyway. Nor were her 1930’s pencil thin eyebrows and semi-marceled hairdo accurate. But, since I love the 1930s, it was fun to see the 30’s influence on the 1870s fashions.

As you can see in the photo, Shirley Temple is in the film, as is a very young John Carradine.

If you want to catch To the Last Man, it’s available on YouTube.

 

Debra Clopton Loves Western Movies!

Debra CloptonHi Everyone! Debra Clopton here and I’m thrilled to be back on Petticoats and Pistols. Like everyone else here, I love cowboys and write Texas cowboy heroes in all of my books.

How did that happen?  Well, I live in central Texas, cowboy capital basically, in between Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. I’m surrounded by every kind of cowboy there is: Horse trainers, ropers, bull riders, calf wrestlers, and just plain hard-working cowboys, ranchers and cowboys at heart. Because of where I live, my research is fairly easy.  I watch, listen and ask the closest cowboy around if I don’t know about something.

But, since one of the things my readers love most about my books is the spunky interaction between my heroes and heroines, I fuel my imagination for those fun sparring matches through my love of cowboy movies. Oh yeah, give me a cocky, slow-drawling cowboy movie hero and I’m a happy girl. Fun western romances with strong cowboys who meet their match with strong-willed feisty heroines are the best. You know what I mean.  Hero and heroines involved in some good old-fashioned arguing fueled by undeniable attraction!

So let’s talk movies for a moment.

Here are a few of my favorite movies:

THE BALLAD OF JOSIE:  Doris Day plays a widow who has to fight the cattlemen when she decides to raise sheep in the middle of cattleDebra Clopton 2 Debra Clopton 1country! Now there’s conflict! What a fun movie this is and the sparks!!! I think I’m going to rent it this weekend because it’s been too long since I’ve watched it.

NORTH TO ALASKA! Oh, my.  Stewart Granger, goodness what a hunk. And of course John Wayne. Fast-paced quick word play and lots of those sparks between hero and heroine.

And then speaking of the Duke—my all-time favorite: McLINTOCK with Maureen O’Hara. Those two make me smile just thinking about them. A fairly silly movie, but just plain good fun. When I’m really getting into my hero and heroine having at it, these two and the chemistry between them always spurs me on.

I’ve talked about this one here on P&P before, but QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER has some of the best dialogue between Mathew Quigley and Crazy Cora that I’ve ever seen. There is so much about this movie that is wonderful. I loved it so much that for my novella A COWBOY FOR KATIE which will be included in the June 2015 anthology collection, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A KISS, I decided to create my own version of Crazy Cora! I had a blast creating Crazy Katie and her hero Treb Rayburn. Katie has her reasons, but she’s a pistol packin’, sure shootin’ little gal who’d just as soon shoot a cowboy for lookin’ at her wrong, especially if he happens to ask her to marry him…and there’s a bunch of them asking!

So, do you love cowboy movies with fireworks shootin’ off between the hero and heroine? I would love to hear your favorites.  Might be one I’ve missed and need to watch!

No PLace Like Home and Dream a Little dreamI’m pleased to say, that as of October 1st Love Inspired has just reissued in a 2-for-1 volume two of my earliest Mule Hollow books. They are peppered with some great tickle-your-funny-bone flavored sparks. NO PLACE LIKE HOME and DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, book 3 and 4 definitely have roots from my infatuation with old fun western romances. If you haven’t been to Mule Hollow yet, this is a great place to start!

Also, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve just completed a brand new Mule Hollow romance that will be the lead book of a 5 story collection. It is set to release Feb 1 so I would love for you to drop by my website here http://www.debraclopton.com/contest and sign up for my newsletter and monthly contest. You’ll receive my news updates and sneak peeks at upcoming book releases and surprise giveaways. There is a lot of fun stuff coming from me in 2015—I’m so excited but there’s too much to share in one blog post.

Okay, it’s been fun but I’m done writing and ready to talk movies—shoot me your favorites please…oh, for instance don’t you just love Harry Connick Jr in HOPE FLOATS—goodness, he makes my heart sing. Oh, and from my childhood memories, Dean Martin as quick-witted, fast-talkin’ cowboy with a funny bone makes me smile…I could go on and on but it’s your turn now!

I’m giving away 2 copies of one of my really spark-filled Mule Hollow books, HIS COWGIRL BRIDE to two y’all who share a movie with me.  Debra Clopton 3

 

Buy your copy of Debra’s new release, NO PLACE LIKE HOME,, on Amazon!

SHANE–BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041I’ve had some surgery, which has cut down on my time at the computer, and so thought I’d bring back my post this week on one of my favorite stories, Shane.  Jack Schaefer’s book, Shane, has been classified in many sub-genres, but to me, it will always remain my favorite western romance.

Romance?  Shane?

This story cannot have a truly happy-ever-after ending for all the principal characters, so it normally wouldn’t make it to my “Top Ten” list for that very reason.  But the story itself is so compelling, so riveting, that there is no choice once you’ve read page one—you are going to finish it.  And it’s not just a story about a very odd love triangle, but also about Shane discovering that he is worthy, and a good person, despite what he’s done in his past.

Shane is the perfect hero—a drifter, a loner, and no one knows why.  He plans to keep it that way.  If only his pesky conscience didn’t get in the way, he might have stopped briefly at the Starrett’s homestead, then moved on.

But from the beginning of the book, we know there is something different about Shane.  The story is told through the eyes of Bob Starrett, the young son of Joe and Marion.  Bob is about ten years old, and his account of the people and action that takes place are colored with the wonderment and naivete of a child who will be well on his way to becoming a young man before the story is over.

SHANE512WAvcxk8L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The book starts with tension, as Bob is watching the stranger, Shane, ride in.  Shane comes to a fork in the road. One way leads down toward Luke Fletcher’s, the cattle baron who is trying to force the homesteaders out of the valley.  The other branch of the fork leads toward the Starretts, the homesteaders who will ultimately force Fletcher’s hand. Shane chooses that path, toward the Starretts, and the die is cast.

He would have looked frail alongside father’s square, solid bulk.  But even I could read the endurance in the lines of that dark figure and the quiet power in his effortless, unthinking adjustment to every movement of the tired horse. 

He was clean-shaven and his face was lean and hard and burned from high forehead to firm, tapering chin.  His eyes seemed hooded in the shadow of the hat’s brim.  He came closer and I could see that this was because the brows were drawn into a frown of fixed and habitual alertness.  Beneath them the eyes were endlessly searching from side to side and forward, checking off every item in view, missing nothing.  As I noticed this, a sudden chill, and I could not have told why, struck through me there in the warm and open sun.

In a nutshell, Shane drifts into the Wyoming valley, and is befriended by the Starretts.  Once there, he is quickly made aware of the brewing trouble between the homesteaders and the powerful local cattle baron, Luke Fletcher, who is set on running them all out of the valley.  Shane is firmly committed to helping Joe Starrett and the homesteaders who want to stay.  Fletcher’s men get into a fistfight with Shane and Joe in the general store, and Fletcher vows his men will kill the next time Joe or Shane come back into town.

Fletcher hires Stark Wilson, a well-known gunhawk, who kills one of the homesteaders that stands up to him.  Joe Starrett feels it is his duty, since he convinced the others to stay, to go kill Fletcher and Wilson.

Shane knocks Joe out, knowing that, though Joe’s heart is in the right place, he’s no match for a hired gun like Wilson.  There’s only one man who is—Shane himself, and that’s going to set him back on the path he’s so desperately trying to escape.

Shane rides into town and Bob follows him, witnessing the entire battle.  Shane faces Wilson down first, and then Fletcher.  Shane turns to leave and Bob warns him of another man, who Shane also kills.  But Shane doesn’t escape unscathed—Wilson has wounded him in the earlier gunplay.

Shane rides out of town, and though Bob wishes so much that Shane could stay, he understands why he can’t.  No.  Bob does not utter one of the most famous lines in cinema history—“Shane! Come back!” There’s good reason for this.  In the book, Bob’s growth is shown because of what he learns from Shane.  To call him back would negate that growth process.

He describes Shane throughout the book, and in many ways, with a child’s intuition, understands innately that Shane is a good man and will do the right thing, which is proven out time and again. So, he also realizes that there is no place for Shane there in the valley, now that the trouble has been handled.

Shane Movie posterimagesBob witnesses the conversation between his mother and Shane, as well, where so much is said—and not said.  It’s one of the major turning points in the book, though Bob, in his telling of it, doesn’t realize it—but the reader is painfully aware of it.  If Shane really is a good man, he will have no recourse but to leave.

This happens as the novel is drawing to a close, when Marian, Bob’s mother, asks Shane if he’s going after Wilson just for her.  He has knocked her husband out to keep him from going after the gunman.

Shane hesitated for a long, long moment. “No, Marian.” His gaze seemed to widen and encompass us all, mother and the still figure of father huddled on a chair by the window and somehow the room and the house and the whole place.  Then he was looking only at mother and she was all he could see.

“No, Marian.  Could I separate you in my mind and afterwards be a man?” 

Shane was Jack Schaefer’s debut novel, published in 1949.  It was honored in 1985 by the Western Writers of America as the best Western novel ever written—beating out other works such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo.

In 1963, Schaefer wrote Monte Walsh, a book that chronicles the passing of the Old West and the lifestyle of the American cowboy.

Though Schaefer never deliberately wrote for young adults, many of his works have become increasingly popular among younger readers.  Universal themes such as the transformation and changes of growing up, the life lessons learned, and rites of passage from childhood to becoming a young adult in his writing have been responsible for the upswing in popularity with this age group.

Shane movie poster 2imagesThough I consider Shane a romance novel, it’s a very different and memorable love triangle because of the unshakable honor of the three characters. I love the subtlety that Schaefer is such a master of, and the way he has Bob describing the action, seeing everything, but with the eyes of a child. If you haven’t read Shane, I highly recommend it—at less than 200 pages, it’s a quick, easy read, and unforgettable.

A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything.  A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it.  Remember that.  (Shane to Marian) 

A man is what he is, Bob, and there’s no breaking the mold.  I’ve tried that and I’ve lost.  But I reckon it was in the cards from the moment I saw a freckled kid on a rail up the road there and a real man behind him, the kind that could back him for the chance another kid never had. (Shane to Bob)

If you’ve never read Shane, I urge you to run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or “buy with one click” for your Kindle. It’s a wonderful tale!

PRPGabriels Law WebI’m offering a DIGITAL COPY of my  western historical romance, GABRIEL’S LAW! All you have to do is leave a comment today with your contact information, and check back this evening after 9:00 p.m. to see if you are my lucky winner! For all of my work, click here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

When Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, he doesn’t suspect a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob. When Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, nobody expects to hear the click of a gun in the hands of an angel bent on justice. Life is full of surprises.

Brandon and Allie reconnect instantly, though it’s been ten years since their last encounter. She’s protected him before. As Brandon recovers at Allie’s ranch, the memories flood back, and his heart is lost to her. He also knows staying with her will ruin everything. She’s made a life for herself and her son. She’s respectable. She has plans – plans that don’t include him. But could they?

Trouble is never far away, and someone else wants Allison Taylor and her ranch. Danger looms large when a fire is set and a friend is abducted. Allie and Brandon discover they are battling someone they never suspected; someone who will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who stands in his way.

As Brandon faces down the man who threatens to steal everything from him, he realizes he is desperately in love with Allie and this new life they are making for themselves. Has Brandon finally found everything he’s ever wanted only to lose it all? Can Brandon and Allie confront the past, face down their demons, and forge their dreams into a future?

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl7126LV movie poster

Favorite western movies? I’ve got a few. But if I had to choose, I think it would have to be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

This Hollywood classic, starring John Wayne as Tom Doniphon, Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance, Vera Miles as Hallie Ericson, and Jimmy Stewart as Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard has just about everything a western cinema fan could hope for: action, romance, right-over-might…and an unforgettable theme song.

Dorothy M. Johnson’s short story was made into a movie in 1962. It’s one of my oldest “movie” memories, as I was five years old when it made the rounds to the movie theaters and drive-ins.

Here’s the description of the movie according to Wickipedia:

Elderly U.S. Senator Ransom “Ranse” Stoddard and his wife Hallie arrive by train in the small western town of Shinbone, to attend the funeral of an apparent nobody, a local rancher named Tom Doniphon. Prior to the funeral, Hallie goes off with a friend to visit a burned-down house with obvious significance to her. As they pay their respects to the dead man at the undertaker’s establishment, the senator is interrupted with a request for a newspaper interview. Stoddard grants the request.

As the interview with the local reporter begins, the film flashes back several decades as Stoddard reflects on his first arrival at Shinbone by stagecoach to establish a law practice.Liberty Valance  Lee Marvin

A gang of outlaws, led by gunfighter Liberty Valance, hold up the stagecoach. Stoddard is brutally beaten, left for dead and later rescued by Doniphon. Stoddard is nursed back to health by restaurant owner Peter Ericson (John Qualen), his wife Nora (Jeanette Nolan) and daughter Hallie. It later emerges that Hallie is Doniphon’s love interest.

Shinbone’s townsfolk are regularly menaced by Valance and his gang. Cowardly local marshal Link Appleyard (Andy Devine) is ill prepared and unwilling to enforce the law. Doniphon is the only local courageous enough to challenge Valance’s lawless behavior. On one occasion, Doniphon even intervenes on Stoddard’s behalf, when Valance publicly humiliates the inept Easterner. Valance trips Stoddard who is waiting tables at Peter’s restaurant. Stoddard spills Doniphon’s order causing Doniphon to intervene. Valance stands down and leaves. Doniphon tells Stoddard he needs to either leave the territory or buy a gun. Stoddard says he will do neither.

"No...I said you, Liberty...You pick it up!"

“No…I said you, Liberty…You pick it up!”

Stoddard is an advocate for justice under the law, not man. He earns the respect and affection of Hallie when he offers to teach her to read after he discovers, to her embarrassment, she’s had no formal education. Stoddard’s influence on Hallie and the town is further evidenced when he begins a school for the townspeople with Hallie’s help. But, secretly, Stoddard borrows a gun and practices shooting.

Doniphon shows Stoddard his plans for expanding his house in anticipation of marrying Hallie, and reminds him that Hallie is his girl. Doniphon gives Stoddard a shooting lesson but humiliates him by shooting a can of paint which spills on Stoddard’s suit. Doniphon warns that Valance will be just as devious, but Stoddard hits him in the jaw and leaves.

In Shinbone, the local newspaper editor-publisher Dutton Peabody (Edmond O’Brien) writes a story about local ranch owners’ opposition to the territory’s potential statehood. Valance convinces the ranchers that if they will hire him, he can get elected as a delegate to represent the cattlemen’s interest. Shinbone’s residents meet to elect two delegates to send to the statehood convention at the territorial capital. Valance attempts to bully the townspeople into electing him as a delegate. Eventually, Stoddard and Peabody are chosen. Valance assaults and badly beats Peabody after Peabody publishes two unflattering articles about Valance and his gang. The villains destroy Peabody’s office. Valance also calls Stoddard out for a duel later in the evening after Valance loses his bid for delegate. Valance leaves saying “Don’t make us come and get you!” Doniphon tells Stoddard he should leave town and even offers to have his farmhand, Pompey, escort him. But when Stoddard sees that Peabody has been nearly beaten to death, he calls out Valance. Stoddard then retrieves a carefully wrapped gun from under his bed and heads toward the saloon where Valance is. Valance hears he has been called out and justifies going out in self-defense. His wins his last poker hand before the duel with Aces and Eights.

"Pompey..."

“Pompey…”

 

In the showdown, Valance toys with Stoddard by firing a bullet near his head and then wounding him in the arm, which causes Stoddard to drop his gun. Valance allows Stoddard to bend down and retrieve the gun. Valance then aims to kill Stoddard promising to put the next bullet “right between the eyes,” when Stoddard fires and miraculously kills Valance with one shot to the surprise of everyone, including himself. Hallie responds with tearful affection. Doniphon congratulates Stoddard on his success, and notices how Hallie lovingly cares for Stoddard’s wounds.

Sensing that he has lost Hallie’s affections, Doniphon gets drunk in the saloon and drives out Valance’s gang, who have been calling for Stoddard to be lynched for Valance’s “murder.” The barman tries to tell Doniphon’s farmhand Pompey (Woody Strode) that he cannot be served (due to his race), to which Doniphon angrily shouts: “Who says he can’t? Pour yourself a drink, Pompey.” Pompey instead drags Doniphon home, where the latter sets fire to an uncompleted bedroom he was adding to his house in anticipation of marrying Hallie. The resulting fire destroys the entire house.

Stoddard is hailed as “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and based on this achievement, is nominated as the local representative to the statehood convention. Stoddard is reluctant to serve based upon his notoriety for killing a man in a gunfight.

At this point, in a flashback within the original flashback, Doniphon tells Stoddard that it was he (Doniphon), hidden across the street, who shot and killed Valance in cold blood, and not Stoddard in self-defense. Stoddard finds Doniphon and asks him why he shot Valance. He did it for Hallie, he says, because he understood that “she’s your girl now”. Doniphon encourages Stoddard to accept the nomination: “You taught her to read and write, now give her something to read and write about!”

Stoddard returns to the convention and is chosen as representative. He marries Hallie and eventually becomes the governor of the new state. He then becomes a two term U.S. senator, then the American ambassador to Great Britain, a U.S. senator again, and at the time of Doniphon’s funeral is the favorite for his party’s nomination as vice president.

The film returns to the present day and the interview ends. The newspaper man, understanding now the truth about the killing of Valance, burns his notes stating: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

"Hallie... who put the cactus rose on Tom's coffin?"

“Hallie… who put the cactus rose on Tom’s coffin?”

 

Stoddard and Hallie board the train for Washington, melancholy about the lie that led to their prosperous life. With the area becoming more and more civilized, Stoddard decides, to Hallie’s delight, to retire from politics and return to the territory to set up a law practice. When Stoddard thanks the train conductor for the train ride and the many courtesies extended to him by the railroad, the conductor says, “Nothing’s too good for the man who shot Liberty Valance!” Upon hearing the comment, Stoddard and his wife stare off thoughtfully into the distance.

As a side note, one of the many reasons this film holds a special place in my heart is because I remember it as being the first time I made the connection between a scene onscreen representing a flashback. Remember the “flashback within a flashback” that the Wikipedia article mentions? The smoke from John Wayne’s cigarette moves and flows to take over the screen as he tells Jimmy Stewart, “You didn’t kill Liberty Valance. Think back, Pilgrim…” That smoke took us back to the truth of what had happened, and my five-year-old brain was shocked—and enamored, even then, with the idea that time passage, or remembrances could be shown through the haze of cigarette smoke. It was the moment of truth for Ransom Stoddard. John Ford was a genius for so many reasons.

Liberty Valance JW and JS cigaretteFor me, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance embodies the core of the west—good and evil, and how sometimes “the point of a gun was the only law”—and it all depended on the man who held the weapon.

Liberty represented the purest evil. Ranse was determined to fight him with the law he treasured—the desire to do things the legal way blinding him to the fact that Liberty didn’t respect that. In the beginning, his naivete is almost painful to watch, providing Liberty some rich entertainment. Though Tom finds it amusing, his growing respect for Ranse’s perseverance is portrayed to perfection by that familiar downward glance of John Wayne’s. Accompanied by the half-smile and his slow advice-giving drawl, the character of Tom Doniphon is drawn so that by the point at which he sees the handwriting on the wall and burns down the house he built for Hallie, the viewer’s sympathy shifts, briefly, to the circumstances Tom finds himself in.

But Ranse is determined to vanquish Valance one way or the other—with a lawbook or a gun—whatever it takes. In the final showdown, the lines of resignation are etched in Tom Doniphon’s face, and we know he is honor-bound to do the thing he’ll regret forever: save Ranse Stoddard’s life and lose Hallie to him.

I love the twist. Ranse truly believes he’s killed Valance. Again, to do the honorable thing, Tom tells him the truth about what really happened.

What do you think? If you were Ranse, would you want to know you really were not the man who shot Liberty Valance? Or would you want to be kept in the dark?  If you were Tom, would you have ever told him? It’s a great movie!

GENE PITNEY SINGS THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE

Now you can sing along! (I promise, this song will stay with you all day long…)

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE

When Liberty Valance rode to town the womenfolk would hide, they’d hide
When Liberty Valance walked around the men would step aside
’cause the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood
When it came to shootin’ straight and fast—he was mighty good.

 From out of the East a stranger came, a law book in his hand, a man
The kind of a man the West would need to tame a troubled land
’cause the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood
When it came to shootin’ straight and fast—he was mighty good.

Many a man would face his gun and many a man would fall
The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance
He was the bravest of them all.

The love of a girl can make a man stay on when he should go, stay on
Just tryin’ to build a peaceful life where love is free to grow
But the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood
When the final showdown came at last, a law book was no good.

Alone and afraid she prayed that he’d return that fateful night, aww that night
When nothin’ she said could keep her man from goin’ out to fight
 From the moment a girl gets to be full-grown the very first thing she learns
When two men go out to face each other only one retur-r-r-ns

Everyone heard two shots ring out, a shot made Liberty fall
The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance
He was the bravest of them all.

The man who shot Liberty Valance, he shot Liberty Valance
He was the bravest of them all.

Wincester 1866 Repeating Rifle – aka The Yellow Boy

Winchester (U.S.) Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle (repeater/ breech-loading/ black powder/ cartridge ammunition)

Last time we discussed the Winchester 1873 Repeating Rifle. Today, I want to introduce the precursor to that rifle – the Winchester 1866 Repeating Rifle, aka The Yellow Boy.

The Yellow Boy got its name because of the shiny brass frame. The design improvements over the original Henry repeating rifle ensured the Yellow Boy’s success. In 1866, Nelson King, an engineer with Winchester Repeating Arms, patented a spring load gate for ease of loading cartridges into the side of a spring-fed, closed-end tube attached under the barrel. The tube held fifteen bullets. Add the one in the chamber and you could pull the trigger sixteen times before reloading.

The 1866 Yellowboy lever-action rifle was a marked improvement over the Henry rifle. It was the first true cowboy lever-action rifle, and the first rifle widely carried in a cowboy-style saddle scabbard.

Both the “Henry and Winchester Model 1866 “Yellow Boy” rifles found a ready market on the western frontier. The Indians referred to these arms as “many shots,” and “spirit gun,” which showed a measure of awe and respect for the products of the New Haven-based company. Many warriors were able to obtain these arms for themselves, and more than twenty of them were used against George A. Custer’s 7th Cavalry and their single-shot Springfield carbines at the Little Bighorn in June, 1876. Winchester repeaters also found favor with miners, homesteaders, ranchers, lawmen, and highwaymen.” http://www.nramuseum.com/the-museum/the-galleries/the-american-west/case-42-the-guns-that-won-the-west-colt-winchester/winchester-model-1866-lever-action-rifle.aspx

Winchester produced the Yellow Boy as a musket, a carbine (shorter barrel, often around 19”) and a rifle with a barrel up to 24 ¼”.

Some 150,000 Yellow Boys were produced from 1867 to 1892-93. The carbine version of the 1866 Yellowboy was a hit worldwide. Chief Sitting Bull had one; the forces of Benito Juarez used the rifles in Mexico; the Turkish Army used the new Winchester Yellowboy against the Russians; and settlers in the U.S. bought thousands for frontier use. Based on its popularity and performance, the “Yellow Boy” earned the title of “the gun that won the west.”

The Yellow Boy’s popularity with Native Americans as well as the general shooting public continued its production well after the introduction of the more powerful Model 1873 Winchester began.

The Yellow Boy is still popular in Hollywood. The Yellow Boy appeared in many of the Spaghetti Westerns, and, more recently, TomChaney (Josh Brolin) carried one in the new release of True Grit.

Winchester chambered it for the .44 Henry Flat round, or a flat nosed bullet. Though it didn’t have a lot of power for a rifle, the Henry Flat had already been proven in combat.  The Flat was a rimfire cartridge, which means the hammer strikes the rim of the cartridge, not the center. It wasn’t until near the end of production–when the 1876 Centennial Rifle was being produced–that Winchester developed a .44 center-fire cartridge for the 1866 rifle.

Here’s a tidbit that might come in useful in your plot – No dust covers were used on the 1866.  This did permit dust and other debris to enter the action, which meant misfiring or not firing at all–which can put the shooter in a real tight spot.

Next time — the gun that started it all: The Henry Repeating Rifle.

True Grit Releases on Dec. 22nd — I Can’t Wait!

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be eagerly anticipating a remake of  True Grit, I’d have laughed.  I’ve enjoyed the 1969 version with John Wayne and Glen Campbell for years. Who could possibly replace John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn?  No one.  To try would be a sacrilege . . .  I really couldn’t imagine it. 

Well, I can now.

Who else has seen the trailer for the remake that’s coming out this Christmas? If you haven’t, here it is . . .

What do you think?  Can Jeff Bridges pull off the role that gave John Wayne his only Oscar?  Judging by the trailer, I’m more than optimistic. Jeff Bridges has a solid track record of doing unique things with a role. My husband’s a fan of The Big Lebowski and so are my sons. I haven’t seen that movie, but I’ve seen Crazy Heart and I thought Jeff was great in it. He does burned-out and cantankerous extremely well!  I also remember him from Starman with Karen Allen.  He’s a solid actor and he looks the part of Rooster.

The new movie is by the Coen Brothers.  I find their work a little off-putting, but my husband loves their movies, particularly No Country for Old Men. As for No Country, once I got over the gruesome beginning with Javier Bardem and paid attention to the story, I had to agree with my husband.  The Coens are brilliant film makers. The movie is haunting.  As for Javier, is that really the same guy who’s in Eat Pray Love?  He’s another amazing actor.

I’m just as enthused about the supporting cast as I am about Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.

In the 1969 version, Kim Darby played fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross, the girl seeking justice for her father’s murder.  In the remake, the part went to an unknown actress named Hailee Steinfeld. In reviews I’ve read, it seems that this movie is her story to tell. The directors stuck more closely to the original book than the 1969 version.  As a fun aside, I was visiting with a neighbor last night.  I didn’t know it, but the producers of True Grit did a casting call here in Lexington, Kentucky for the role of Mattie. They needed a teenage girl who could ride. What better place to look than the city known as “The Thoroughbred Capital of the World?”

Josh Brolin plays Tom Chaney, the thief who killed Mattie’s father, and Matt Damon is Texas Ranger La Bouef. He’s also after Chaney. Glen Campbell played that roll in the 1969 version.  La Bouef meets up with Cogburn and Mattie and the chase begins.

As a final touch, would anyone like to guess who does the song for the trailer?  It’s Johnny Cash. I can’t think of a better fit.

The movie opens December 22nd.  After all the family celebrations, I just might see if I can talk my husband into going to a movie on Christmas night. (Honey, if you’re reading this, I want movie passes for Christmas!) Anyone else? Are looking forward to this movie?

Cheryl St.John on Birthdays and Other Things, Like Hot Dogs and Cowboys

 

cakeI don’t know about you, but it’s HOT in Nebraska! How hot is it?

It’s so hot, I went to the store for flour, sugar and eggs yesterday, and came home with a cake.

 

Bada boom, bada bing.

Seriously, it’s summer, and we have three birthdays to celebrate just this month. Our family has grown so much that it’s a rare month that doesn’t find us gathering for cake at least a couple of times. I love to get creative and serve brunch, with breakfast casseroles, etc. My daughter LeighAnn and I occasionally cook up Mexican Day or Soup Day. But of course, with such a large gathering, we often have the old standbys, grilled burgers and dogs, Tastees, chili, and on the holidays, good old ham and turkey.

I don’t know how I always get the same jobs at these events—but I’m trying to shake off the stereotype. My son-in-law Brad claims he’s going to have me buried with an ice cream scoop in my folded hands, so I’ll look normal. I bought him one for Christmas one year—a dandy specimen just like mine—a heavy-duty industrial strength flat scooper—but of course I am the one who wields it at their house. Last birthday there I tried to hide until the scooping was underway, but they found me.

My goodness, but those birthdays pile up, don’t they? When we moved last time, I organized photos into albums until my brain went numb. I finally stashed the rest back into boxes where they will await the next millennium. It was amazing how many of those photos were pictures of cakes. If you’re a young mom, take this as a gentle suggestion: Take ONE photo of the baby’s cake. One, got it?

birthday-party-3I remember how exciting those first birthday cakes were. If you’re a mom of many or a grandma, you remember, too. You couldn’t get enough pictures of your baby with frosting up his nose. Wasn’t that darling? Then there were second, third, and fourth birthdays. And then the second third and fourth kids arrived and had birthdays, too—yes I have four children and I lived to tell. And then the grandchildren start arriving—or so they say.

Here is my pledge: I will never, as long as I draw breath, take another picture of a birthday cake. I mean how many cake pictures does a person need? Get them out of order, and you don’t even know whose cake it was or which year. And you know, one shot is never enough. Admit it, you take two pictures in case the first one blurs or something. Heaven forbid we wouldn’t be able to see Strawberry Shortcake or Spiderman clearly once he was only a sweet memory.

You know what I’m talking about. Just you try sorting 20 or 30 years of photos and try to get sentimental about a cake that was only so so in 1983.

And while I’m on the subject of parties, darned if I’m not the one who inevitably gets stuck opening all those toys that have been hermetically sealed and wired and clamped. Sometimes I need a screwdriver and a wire cutter to extricate them. I’m telling you, Santa could catapult those boxes out of his sleigh onto our concrete driveway and Barbie wouldn’t have a hair out of place. Her hair is sewn onto the cardboard, people. Sewn.

The packaging is three times the size of the toy inside. It takes half a roll of wrapping paper to go around a box, but once you get the twisties unwrapped and the taped peeled off and the plastic removed, you have a tiny little pile of Power Rangers and half a dozen bags of trash. And—

Have you ever lost a minuscule part and had to search through all those bags because you might have accidentally thrown it away? Or heaven forbid go out to the trashcan—I don’t know which is worse, searching through trash for Woody’s six-shooter in the summer or during the winter. Hint: the piece is never there. It’s always with Colonel Mustard in the sofa cushion.

 

How about you? Do most of your family traditions involve food?

 

dsc00013This blog had nothing to do with reading, writing or watching westerns, but I do have a fun drawing this month to bring the focus back on everybody’s favorite subject (besides cake) and that would be cowboys.

 

Leave a comment today and I’ll drop your name into the fish bowl. I’m holding a drawing for this DVD set: COWBOYS OF THE SILVER SCREEN. Five full-length feature films:

 

Over the Hill Gang – Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson

The Shooting – jack Nicholson, Warren Oates

Vengeance Valley – Burt Lancaster, Joanna Dru

Rage at Dawn – Forrest Tucker, Randolph Scott

One-eyed Jacks, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden

 

I’m adding a cowboy boot charm to the prize, too. Now, wouldn’t winning this set just take the cake?

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015