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“Even a Ranger cain’t ride on an empty stomach.”
Lonesome Dove Theme
Lonesome Dove : Spinoffs and Wannabes
The immense success and popularity of the Lonesome Dove (1989) Mini Series starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones spawned a veritable industry surrounding Larry McMurtry’s iconic characters Augustus ‘Gus’ McCrae (Duvall) and Woodrow F. Call (Jones) that extends to this very day with obvious influences in several succeeding TV and Mini Series like Hell on Wheels – which seems to me to have ‘Dove‘ flavour written all over it – each attempting to recapture or exploit the magic of the original epic. Some succeed – to a degree. Others? … Not so well.
3? Successive ‘Dove‘ Mini Series – plus a TV show – have attempted to take us back.
All that being said let’s look at those who have portrayed McMurtry’s two main characters over the last 25 years.
I’ve debated over and over (with myself) whether I want to issue any commentary on Lonesome Dove itself – which has been covered extensively – and well – by other fans and Western critics – smarter than myself. But it seems some commentary is inevitable. So … I will get to that later.
In the meantime …
The four descendants of McMurtry’s saga:
The Guns of Laredo … Part 3 … the Rifles
In Streets of Laredo we see mainly 3 standard rifles – plus a couple of oddities. There are others long guns, but their appearance is too brief to mention.
Firstly we have the Winchester 73′ rifle – ‘the rifle that won the West’? Combined with the Colt 45 pistol, these are backbone of many a Western Film and probably a good chunk of Old West history as well.
James Garner (Captain F. Woodrow Call) carries two rifles (not sure why .. but Why Not?): a Winchester 73′ and a 1860 Henry Rifle Brass Frame .45 LC.
Between drinking and hanging people the Judge shoots things.
George Carlin gets ready to demonstrate the ‘Yellow Boy‘.
Hang on to your ears.
The 2 Unusual Weapons
Charles Martin Smith and Cannon? Sounds like a Law Firm. And he’s got the guns to back it up.
The first of the 2 unusual weapons that I spoke of, is the The Holland & Holland Paradox shotgun (well named).
From the Internet Movie Firearms Database (http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Holland_%26_Holland_Paradox)
“The Holland & Holland Paradox was an interesting design. It was a smoothbore until the end of the bores where there was rifling … The 8 and 10 gauge shotguns were considered to be the most effective against Elephant, Cape Buffalo ect, but lacked the accuracy and range of a rifle. The Paradox design was a compromise which offered improved performance from the smoothbore design … “
In other words, Charles Martin Smith is carrying an elephant gun. Sheesh.
This weapon eventually contributes to the demise of our main antagonist.
Thanks to my brother Richard for finding this information.
Don’t ask me what the pistols are though … he never pulled ’em.
Charles Martin Smith seems to have a fondness for shotguns:
That other weapon is claimed to be a Model 1889 Schmidt-Rubin rifle with Scope.
Apology: I lost my sources for this reference. I do recall the the individual who recognized this rifle said that this weapon did not exist in the era of Streets of Laredo. I would not be surprised as we find this quite often in Westerns (and other movies) where technology from the future is imported to the past. Most often nobody cares or notices, but some Gun and Western history fans/experts do take note.
The only thing I can say for sure it that if Joey Garza (Alexis Cruz) takes a liking to your gun, you better just give it to him. And run away. Fast.
But it might not do any good.
The Guns of Laredo … an interesting mix.
Streets of Laredo contains most your standard Western gunfare: Yer Colt 45, Yer Winchester ’73, and Yer double barrel shotgun ….
But it also has 2 unique weapons – plus another that’s fairly uncommon.
I was not able to locate any resources that specifically itemized the Guns in Streets of Laredo. It took considerable detective work to discover the identity of at least 2 of the firearms. A Thank You goes to my brother Richard who identified the mysterious and unusual shotgun carried by Charles Martin Smith.
Most of the main characters use handguns at some point Streets of Laredo – including Sissy Spacek and Sonja Baca.
The handgun of choice appears to be the famous Colt 45 – either long or short barrel.
A Colt Refused
Near the beginning Episode 1 (of 3) of Streets of Laredo, James Garner (Captain Woodrow Call) is offered a pearl handled Colt by his employer – which he refuses – upon advice there may ‘strings attached’.
Uncommon Gun Number One
Randy Quaid, who plays the very surly John Wesley Hardin in Streets of Laredo, brandishes a nickel plated handgun that looks almost too grand to be a ‘shootin’ iron’ of the Old West.
But there it is. This gun was not easy to for me to identify and I’m still not certain I have it right, but I’m going with a:
Smith & Wesson Schofield
Subsequent editions of a successful weapon design often remain or appear almost identical to the original – even over years of production – with only minor refinements. Or can be copied by other Manufacturers.
In other words, they aren’t easy to identify. So this is just a guess on my part.
Top Breaking handguns.
When you consider that the ‘top breaking’ feature (similar to double barrel shotgun) of this handgun appears to be make loading and unloading quicker and easier, you’d think they would have been more popular, but it seems the side loading style of the Colts was more common. I do not know who originally invented this design, but it was clearly used by other manufacturers as well – including Colt.
The Guns of Laredo … Part 3 … the Rifles
NO HUMANS OR HORSES WERE HARMED
IN THE PRODUCTION OF THIS POST.
– The Management
When I initially started My Favorite Westerns, I had intended to include a page/section on the Guns that appear in each movie I profiled. Certain things have evolved however, to make me adjust or re-think this intention.
The first is the number of horrific and disturbing gun incidents over the last few years. Enough said… almost.
The second is less idealistic: many Westerns use the same guns – so identical gun profiles seemed redundant.
BUT/YET … What the hell is a Western without a Gun? You can pretty well define Westerns by guns. There ARE a few Westerns that don’t have guns … very few. Even Little House on the Prairie had an occasional gun. Fact is, if a Old West period piece doesn’t have any guns, most of us wouldn’t even consider it a Western. Or even watch it.
I’m not defending gun culture – or guns. It’s just a fact.
Further, this predilection for guns in our Entertainment is hardly unique. Take a look at the current list of films showing at your local theatre. Over half of them have guns – or violence – be it delivered via sword of Hobbit or gun by Willis.
Guns? Swords? Monsters? Space ships … ? You name it … We shoot it.
We are blood soaked and blood fuelled.
Violence you say? Nahhhh. They’re called ‘Action Movies’.
TV is not exempt. Sports, for instance, is huge on TV … and full of violence. And it’s debatable that we would watch it if it wasn’t. A hockey, football, or baseball game with no hitting is boring. And when there’s no Action we flip the channel – searching for Action/Violence. And what about Cop Shows? Game of Thrones, etc. etc? There’s no end of examples. Even most Reality Shows have Conflicts built into their setup – to raise the Entertainment factor.
“Lights! Camera! Action!” Every day, all day, year ’round, we fight – we kill.
Comic books? You might think you were in a porno shop … if it wasn’t for the killing. Rated G.
VIdeo games? Over 90% have graphic violence and bloodshed. Killing.
Bottom line: WE LOVE THIS STUFF!
And we keep the pushing the envelope – more action, more violence, more graphic, more blood, more killing …
Another thing I truly wonder about is the Desensitization that seems to be occurring. Nobody bats an eye at most of this stuff any more.
The real question though …. is WHY? do we Love this Stuff?
I’m trying to come up with an answer.
In the meantime … let’s look at some guns.
Next the … The Guns of Laredo … Part 2
Casting Director, Lynn Kressel won Casting Awards for Streets of Laredo. Let’s see why …
Nothing much needs to be said about James Garner as a Western Film Actor He’s an icon.
Maverick with Jack Kelly 1957-1962 TV
Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend with Randolph Scott / 1957 Movie
Alias Jesse James with Bob Hope 1957 Cameo as Maverick Movie
Duel at Diablo: with Sydney Poitier 1966 Movie
Hour of the Gun with Jason Robards 1967 Movie
Support Your Local Sheriff with Jack Elam and Walter Brennan 1966 Movie
Sledge with Dennis Weaver and Claude Akins 1970 Movie
Support Your Local Gunfighter with Suzanne Pleshette 1971 Movie
Skin Game with Lou Gossett 1971 Movie
Nicols with Stuart Margolin 1971-1972 TV
The Castaway Cowboy 1974 Movie
Young Maverick with Charles Frank 1979 TV
Bret Maverick with Ed Bruce 1981-82 TV Movie
Murphy’s Romance with Sally Field 1985 Movie
Sunset with Bruce Willis 1988 Movie
Maverick with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Coburn and others 1994 Movie
Streets of Laredo – 1995 TV Mini-Series
Sam Shepard seems to have Western written all over him – so we’re bit surprised that he hasn’t been in more. Yet I believe All the Pretty Horses is massively under-rated and may fare better in time. The Assassination of Jesse James … ??? the jury is still out. Thunderheart is well known – an entertaining enough movie … but a good Western? Blackthorn could have been Classic, but poor support acting let it down.
Verdict? Streets of Laredo is probably the best Western Sam has ever done. And he’s damn good in it.
1978 Days of Heaven – with Richard Gere
1992 Thunderheart – with Val Kilmer and Grahame Greene
1995 Streets of Laredo with James Garner
1999 Purgatory with Eric Roberts and Randy Quaid
2000 All the Pretty Horses with Matt Damon
2005 Bandidas with Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek
2007 The Assassination of Jesse James with Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck
1994 Silent Tongue / Writer / Director
2014 Klondike with Richard Madden
Randy Quaid has been in at least 2 notable Western: The Missouri Breaks and The Long Riders – both pretty highly regarded by most Western Movie fans – some holding them as Minor Classic in quality. In Streets of Laredo he plays the famous gunslinger John Wesley Harding.
1976 The Missouri Breaks with Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando
1979 The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang
1980 The Long Riders with Dennis Quaid, David Carradine, Keith Carradine, Stacy Keach …
1999 Purgatory wtih Sam Shepard
2004 Home on the Range with Judi Dench, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rosanne Barr …
We probably think Sissy Spacek has been in a few Westerns because she did Coal Minors Daughter (1980) and has done some Country Music singing and writing. But not so. Despite a ton of great work in her acting career, Sissy has done no real Westerns.
She’s in a great one this time though.
Decent Western roles are tough to find for female actors- mainly because most Westerns are written by – and for – men. But McMurtry is different and Streets of Laredo includes 3 great roles for the ladies – one of which is also an excellent role for a child female actor. Good job Mr. McMurtry.
Wes Studi is another actor that has well established himself as a Western Film Icon. His first 2 Westerns are undeniable Westerns Classics: Dances with Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans.
Most everything else he’s done is quality work as well.
Wes Studi Westerns
1990 Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner
1992 The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis
1993 Geronimo: An American Legend with Gene Hackman
1995 Streets of Laredo
1997 Crazy Horse with Ned Beatty
2005 Into the West with Russel Means
2005 Miracle at Sage Creek with David Carradine
2005 The New World with Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale
2007 Seraphim Falls with Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Anjelica Huston
2007 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
2008 Comanche Moon with Val Kilmer
2009 Trail of Tears
2011 Hell on Wheels with Colm Meaney
2014 A Million Ways to Die in the West (post-production)
2014 Palominas (pre-production)
Charles Martin Smith
We wouldn’t normally think of Charles Martin Smith as being a Western Actor but, incredibly, Smith has appeared in at least one bona fide Western Classic: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and two other worthy Westerns: Culpepper Cattle Co. and The Spikes Gang. That’s 3 out 3 Chuck – Not bad for a green horn.
In Streets of Laredo, Smith plays the ‘everyday man’ – that’s you and me – the guy we’re supposed to relate with. His character can’t handle the rugged and vicious Western world he suddenly finds himself in – and makes us wonder if we could cut it either. Possibly not.
Charles Martin Smith Westerns
1972 The Culpepper Cattle Co.
1973 Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
1974 The Spikes Gang
Brazilian actress and International Film Star, Sonia Braga has 75 film credits to her name.
And when you see here performance in Streets of Laredo, it’s hard to believe she too has no Westerns among them.
She was Nominated for NCLR Bravo Award 1996 for her performance in Streets of Laredo.
In Streets of Laredo, Ned Beaty is well recognized – even with his Santa Claus beard. Beaty is another actor we are surprised to find has made very few Westerns – in his long career where he has appeared in over 100 films – and has been nominated for an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, an MTV Movie Award and a Golden Globe Award; he won a Drama Desk Award also.
But he’s done a couple.
1996 Crazy Horse
1994 Outlaws: The Legend of O.B. Taggart
1975 Gunsmoke (TV)
1972 The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean with Paul Newman
You might have to shake your head for a second when you see George Carlin in Streets of Laredo. The second surprise is that he does a hell of job. Completely believable and in command of his part. Makes you wish he’d done more.
Vanessa Martinez is that 3rd female role I was talking about – playing Sonia Braga’s blind daughter. She is superb – and we wonder why we haven’t seen more of her either ??
An unlikely badguy we may think – almost baby faced. But Cruz is ominous and lethal as the psychopathic killer tracked by Garner. Yet another actor we’ve seen little of since Laredo.
Though still active in TV and Film, Cruz seems to have fallen from view.
Alexis Cruz Westerns:
1997 The Brave (A Western?) I note this here because it Stars Marlon Brando and Johnny Depp.
An impressive cast. In an excellent production.