September 13, 2007
Still swirling amid the rumors that I was called to consult on the Western 3:10 To Yuma (see posting, below), so it came as a mild shock to find out that someone in the True West family had, in fact, been contacted and contributed to the historic accuracy of the number one film in America:
Like Remington: He Knew The Whores
"I have not seen 3:10 To Yuma yet but will soon. I am curious about the whorehouse scene. I was, so to speak, a consultant on that particular part. A young lady called me many months back here in Santa Fe and announced, 'I understand you are an authority on whorehouses.' The abruptness set me back a bit before I could answer, 'Sure, do you want to know where the best ones are?' Not really... thank goodness she continued to explain that she was a 'set designer' or some such thing for a movie then being filmed in Santa Fe, 3:10 to Yuma. She had been told that I had photos of whorehouses (what I call, more delicately, Parlor Houses) of the Old West. She came out and had a look at some photos of inside and outside of such places, plus a number of the ladies themselves, copies of which I provided her. She was impressed and asked if she could bring her boss out, which she did a few days later. Believe it or not, she then called and asked me to send an invoice for my time. And, even more unbelievable, they paid me! I must admit I was impressed by their desire to get things right. I've got to see the movie to see if I can detect any influence I might have had on their whorehouse, a distinction I will long proudly cherish."
I assured Bob, his fingerprints are all over those scenes. Speaking of whores, The Top Secret Writer asked me yesterday to send him my top ten favorite Westerns (as reference for his Boston Globe piece perhaps?). I dashed the following off, and it was some fun. Here's my list:
1. McCabe & Mrs. Miller: a B.S.ing, light-weight guy tries to get into the game and play with the big boys and his naive bluffing gets him killed. His girlfriend tries to warn him, but he doesn't listen. If this doesn't sum up life in modern America I don't know what does. Plus, I love weather in movies and the snow in this picture is a character (although slightly fake at the ending, but I don't care. The director left it in, over the objections of his AD, who warned him there would be continuity problems because the real snow would melt and it did, so they double-exposed falling snow over the film and it isn't very good, but like I said, I don't care).
2. One-Eyed Jacks: the first half of this movie is perfect. Seduction, betrayal, great horses and hats. It doesn't get any better than this. Unfortunately, it has a second half, and ends by the sea, and subsequently sinks like a fat, glob of spit.
3. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid: witty and accurate enough. If only every Western could be this good looking and fun.
4. Treasure of The Sierra Madre: gringos, greed and Mexico. Everything still stands today (I'm talking plot points and the blatant metaphors).
5. True Grit: wonderful language, superior, in my book, to Deadwood—in eloquence. Plus, two of the greatest lines ever: "That's bold talk for a one-eyed fat man," and "Fill your hands you son-of-a-bitch!" I double-dare you to name two better lines of dialogue in a Western.
6. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: over the top caricatures, unmatched music and operatic brilliance in every shot. Eastwood has never attained this iconic stature in any of his subsequent films, especially those he directed. And by the way, f*** Unforgiven. I am so tired of hearing about that overrated, dark piece of s**t.
7. The Outlaw Josey Wales: Okay, I lied (did Eastwood direct this?). This is the best Saturday afternoon Western ever made.
8. Little Big Man: Indians are funny? Yes they are! What a concept! Gay Indians, stud misogynist Indians? (Chief Dan George: "I had a white woman one time. She just layed there.") A brilliant send-up of the entire genre, and more accurate than almost everything on this list. A breath of fresh air in a politically correct world.
9. The Wild Bunch: the good-bad-man has never had more convincing grinding angst than in this little gem. I wish I could include "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid" but this film puts that one so far in the shade it's embarrassing.
10. Lonseome Dove: not really a "movie" but who cares. "Just once I'd like to be robbed by an educated man." and "I'd rather be hung by my friends than a bunch of strangers," are just two lines out of a forest of excellent dialogue. Duvall is very good, but Tommy Lee's accent (just the way he says, "Fort Worth" is fantastic) and his Hell Bitch riding (allegedly one of his polo ponies) make his portrayal my favorite cowboy performance, ever.
Still working hard on the Dick Liddil vs. Wood Hite gunfight. Finished T. J. Stiles' book, Jesse James: Last Rebel of The Civil War last night. I'm also perusing several other James-related bios, including:
• The Trial of Frank James For Murder: With Confessions By Dick Liddil and Clarence Hite and History of The 'James Gang' , forward by James D. Horan
• The Man Who Shot Jesse James by Carl W. Breihan
• Jesse James Was His Name, by William Settle
Can't wait to see the film now. Heard from Henry Beck that they include the Liddil-Hite shootout and the Blue Cut Train Robbery. Both will be in the next Classic Gunfights. Plus, and here we are back to the beginning, we are running Bob McCubbin's great photos of Robert Ford holding the pistol he used to kill Jesse and the photo of Jesse propped up after death. The photographer had to tie a rope to him because every time he propped Jesse up, and ran to the camera, the outlaw King would slide down onto the floor. The photographer made a ton of money selling these prints for 50 cents each, I beleive.
Classic Onion Headline de Jour
Congress Relieved To Admit It's Not Going To Accomplish Anything This Year
"It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker."
—Old Vaquero Saying
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