Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Joaquin Murrieta Due Diligence

May 18, 2011

One of the things I love about my job is getting to do due diligence on Classic Gunfights. As I mentioned early last week, I called John Boessenecker in San Francisco to ask him the location of Cantua Creek where California Ranger Harry Love and his men surprised Joaquin Murrieta and his gang in an early morning raid on their camp on July 25, 1853.

John informed me it's just north of Harris Ranch and just off I-5. I had stopped at Harris Ranch last summer and was surprised that this is where the infamous and controversial fight took place. That part of California is quite arid and unlike what we out-of-staters imagine a hideout of Joaquin Murrieta to look like. I always want to get the locale correct, both with terrain and vegetation (I hate saguaros showing up in Texas based movies. Seems real dumb to me).

Robert Ray did his due diligence and looked in the True West archives, finding this photo by Bill Secrest of Cantua Creek:

When I mentioned this to John Boessenecker, he informed me that Bill's location is not correct (both he and Bill have been seeking out these sites for decades and at the time of the article, 1960s, this was thought to be the site). John told me they poured over old records and finally figured out where it is. He told me, that somewhere he has a photo. He found it and overnighted me this photo:

Joaquin's camp was up on the bluff where the two guys are standing. The California Rangers rode into camp in the wee hours of the morning (I want to say at dawn) surprising the bandit gang, who were likely in bed, or just getting up. One of the bandits got up and addressed the mounted men pointing guns at them and said, "I am the leader of this band."

One of the rangers yelled out, "It's him! It's Joaquin Murrieta." At this, the bandits pulled up their serapes and pulled iron and the gun battle began. Incredibly, Joaquin was unarmed, but he had a lariat, and he roped an unsaddled horse, climbed aboard and jumped off a 15 foot embankment (see above) into a wash. Here is that scene, which I whipped out this morning:

One of the rangers, Henderson, followed Murrieta down the embankment while another ranger fired at him from the top of the bank. Joaquin fled eastward on horseback. Here is that scene:

Nailed the lansdscape but tubed the ranger coming down the slope. Had such high hopes. May not use it in the final, but I came close. I'd like to have this one over again, but it all goes to the printer tomorrow.

Heard back from the California producer who wants to do a 3'D Western. He told me that he is very impressed by the Mickey Free story and thinks that it could make a really original story.

Uh oh.

"In Hollywood, nothing is harder to get financed than an original idea."
—Roger Ebert, in Newsweek on the current glut of sequels

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