One of our readers asked Marshall Trimble about actors in Westerns jacking shells into their Winchesters just before a fight and did this really happen in the Old West and Marshall answered it this way:
"I contacted Jim Dunham, Director of Special Projects at the Booth Museum, in Cartersville Georgia to get his thoughts on this. He's spent a lot of time on Hollywood western movie sets and responds: "All actors are always looking for "business" or stuff to do with their hands and bodies to create a believable character. Marlon Brando for example was always scratching at his face. Not because his face had an itch, but because it built character. Every time you see an actor cock a rifle or spin a cylinder before a fight that's what they are doing. In reality it would be stupid. If you have a round loaded when it comes flying out when levered and if you don't see a round fly even worse, it means you had an unloaded rifle until that moment. By the way when John Wayne as the Ringo Kid first arrives in "Stagecoach" and flips his Winchester Model 92 in a circle you can see the 5 in 1 rifle blank fly past his head just missing his ear."
I didn't know this! In fact I must have seen that clip five times this weekend. My mother-in-law Betty Radina got me a boxed set of John Ford-John Wayne movies for Christmas and I was watching the Special Features on Sunday night and they must have shown the Ringo Kid clip from Stagecoach five times and I didn't see the blank flying past his head. I will surely check it out tonight!
And speaking of the Special Features, they included a radio broadcast of the 1946 Academy Awards and I was casually listening to it and the announcer, sets up the story of Stagecoach by saying it was based on a short magazine story about a stage coach running to "Lordsburg, Arizona." Of course, Lordsburg is in New Mexico (my mother was born there) and I thought it was interesting that Hollywood, or, in this case, some radio honcho in Hollywood, was too lazy to look it up. Ha. Having been in both businesses let's just say, I can relate.
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