Friday, January 31, 2014

Top 10 Western Movie Gunfights

What do you consider among the best gunfights in a Western movie? There are a ton of great movies to choose from and selecting just ten of the best is an almost impossible task. There are even several movies with more than one excellent gunfight, making picking just one from that movie extremely difficult. Yet every Western fan has some favorites. Here are my favorite, starting with number 10.




10. QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER





9. SHANE





8. THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES




7.  HIGH NOON




6.  ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST






5.  TOMBSTONE





4. TRUE GRIT





3. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY





2.  OPEN RANGE






1. UNFORGIVEN




What do you think? Which ones should have been ranked higher? Did I leave out any that should have been included?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top 10 Western One-liners

Narrowing down this list to just ten was extremely hard to do. A list of top ten one-liners could be made exclusively from a single movie like Tombstone or The Outlaw Josey Wales. It could be made entirely of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood quotes. Yet I've tried to make it as inclusive as possible, highlighting some of the best of the genre. Here they are, in no particular order.

  • "Get out of Dodge." – Matt Dillon, James Arness, Gunsmoke

     A line that's often overlooked in some of the other lists I've seen online, probably because it's a television series and not a movie. But you can't mention anything in the Western genre without including Gunsmoke.


  • "I'm your huckleberry." – Doc Holliday, Val Kilmer, Tombstone

     There are a myriad of lines from the movie that could have been included on this list, this is just one of them.

  • "Well, you may not know this, but there's things that gnaw at a man worse than dying." – Charlie Waite, Kevin Costner, Open Range

     One of the best Westerns made in recent times.

  •  "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I require the same from them." – John Bernard Brooks, John Wayne, The Shootist

     A great line from John Wayne's last film. Perhaps one of his best quotes and a good philosophy to live by.

  • "You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig." – Blondie, Clint Eastwood, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    A quote from the movie that gave a major boost to Eastwood's career and perhaps the best of the Spaghetti Westerns.

  • "A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an ax, a shovel or anything. A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it. Remember that." – Shane, Alan Ladd, Shane

     A great line from a pivotal Western that influenced everything that came after it.

  • "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he's got and all he's ever gonna have." – Will Munny, Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven

    One of Eastwood's best films that has influenced me and my writing a great deal.

  • "Dying ain't much of a living, boy." – Josey Wales, Clint Eastwood, The Outlaw Josey Wales

    A ground breaking film for it's time that was one of the first of the Hollywood Westerns to portray Native Americans as more than ignorant savages. 

  • "That'll be the day." – Ethan Edwards, John Wayne, The Searchers

     In my opinion, the best movie ever made, in any genre. Period.

  • "I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it." – Woodrow Call, Tommy Lee Jones, Lonesome Dove

     An iconic quote from an epic novel and movie. 




These are just a few of my favorites. What are some of your favorite lines? Are there any left out that should have been included? 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Six-gun Saturday: 1872 Colt Open Top

The 1872 Colt Open Top bears the distinction of being the first revolver designed by Colt to fire metallic cartridges and was the precursor to the legendary 1873 Colt Single Action Army.  

The Open Top was an entirely new model and didn't reuse parts from earlier percussion revolvers.  It was the first gun made by Colt that could load cartridges from the rear of the cylinder.  

Photo of an original 1872 Colt Open Top
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Until the extension for Rollin White's breech loading patent was rejected by the U. S. Government in 1870, all previously converted Colt revolvers, such as the Thuer conversion and the Mason-Richards conversions of such weapons as the 1851 Navy or the 1860 Army had to be loaded from the front of the cylinder and the cartridge pushed into the chamber with a loading lever similar to the percussion models.

The Open Top was designed in 1871 but didn't go into production until the following year.  Only about 7,000 were made during the production run and it used the .44 Henry rimfire cartridge.  The thinking behind using that particular cartridge was so that people could use the same ammunition in both their rifle and their handgun.  

Colt submitted the gun to the U.S. Army for testing as part of a contest among gun makers to provide a new service revolver.  The Open Top was rejected because the Army wanted a larger caliber with a stronger frame.  

The frame of the gun was redesigned with a top strap and a more powerful center-fire cartridge was invented, the .45 Long Colt.  The new design went into production in 1873 and became the Peacemaker.  



Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Immortality of the Western

Every few years or so, rumors start up again about the supposed "death" of the Western.  It seems to go on a cycle and if the rumors are to be believed, then the Western has died a thousand times. 

Yet, the genre is still around and going strong today. Granted, it is not nearly as popular as it was during the Fifties and Sixties, but it is a long way from being dead.

Iconic Western actor John Wayne believed in the durability of the genre. 

"Don't ever for a minute make the mistake of looking down your nose at Westerns. They're art–the good ones, I mean.  They deal in life and sudden death and primitive struggle, and with the basic emotions–love, hate, and anger–thrown in.  We'll have Western films as long as the cameras keep turning. The fascination that the Old West has will never die."

The Western will never die for one simple reason.  It is the one contribution to literature that is entirely and uniquely American.  Just as the great works of the Greeks and Romans are remembered today, so will the Western be remembered thousands of years from now. 

For some reason, some folks seem to want the Western to die or they at least want society to believe that it has, perhaps because it is not politically correct and may offend some people's delicate sensibilities.  However, there are much more offensive things in other genres than there will ever be in the Western.  The so-called offensive things in the Western are historical fact. 

There is nothing wrong with any aspect of the genre.  Some folks prefer the classic Western with the hero wearing the white hat versus the villain who wears the black hat.  Personally, I prefer my Westerns of the gray anti-heroic type.  

I enjoy all of John Wayne's movies and watch them time and again, but my biggest influences are Clint Eastwood's movies, from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to The Outlaw Josey Wales to Unforgiven.  However, perhaps my biggest influence is legendary writer, Louis L'Amour. 

The Western is not as popular as it once was, but that is not because there is anything wrong with the genre.  The reason that popularity has waned is because society has drifted away from the principles and ideals portrayed in the Western films and books of the past, as well as the ones being written today. 

Whenever I meet new people and tell them that I'm a writer, the first question they ask is about the kind of stories that I write.  When I tell them that I write Westerns, most of them generally frown and mutter something about not reading Westerns.  To which I always ask, why not? 

There are a lot of great Western stories being written today, all over the world.  In addition, the Western lends itself well to blending with other genres.  There are a lot of great Western mystery stories and a lot of Romance Westerns, even Horror Westerns.  Generally, there is some kind of Western story for everyone. 

Any story can be told as a Western and can be told better as one in my opinion because of the great tapestry that the backdrop of the Old West provides. 

There's no reason to change anything about the genre.  If we do that, then we aren't writing Westerns anymore.  The genre has gotten along just fine like it is and will continue to do so.  

Regardless of what some tenderfoots may think, the Western is just too tough to die.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Six-gun Saturday: The Colt Peacemaker


Colt SAA cal .45 Factory Engraved  shipped 1893
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Although there was a plethora of gun types used during the westward expansion of this great nation, perhaps the most popular was the Colt Model 1873 Single-Action Army or the Peacemaker as it came to be called.

It revolutionized the revolver and is considered by many to be the greatest handgun in history.  Along with the gun, Colt introduced the .45 Long Colt cartridge and it was the second gun produced by Colt to use cartridge ammunition, the first being Colt's 1872 Model Open Top.  It was the redesigned Open Top model that became the Peacemaker.

It was designed by William Mason and Charles Richards as a result of a contest among gun makers to supply the U.S. Army with a new service revolver.  The Peacemaker won the contract and became the first revolver for the Army to use metallic cartridges.

It has a long and storied history as a military service weapon, most famously with Custer's 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn.  Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders were armed with the Single Action Army when they made their charge up San Juan Hill. General George S. Patton used one during the Mexican Punitive Expedition of 1916 and carried it throughout World War II.

The first generation of the Peacemaker was from 1872 – 1941.  Production was stopped during World War II so that Colt could fill other orders for the war. 

Movie Still from Rio Lobo
The rise of the Western as a genre in Hollywood and on television created a customer demand for the gun, so Colt resumed production with the second generation of the Peacemaker in 1956 and lasted until 1974. 

It was used in hundreds of movies, sometimes erroneously in movies set before 1873, such as Rio Lobo.  The most famous Hollywood Colts are the ones used by John Wayne in many of his films. 

The third generation of the Peacemaker began in 1976.  The Single Action Army has inspired clones and influenced gun designs since it was first produced.  There have been many copies and replicas made.  The most popular replica is made by Uberti, one of which I happen to own.

The Colt Single Action Army is still in production to this day.

A Fistful of Dollars


Sources:

Miller, David. Illustrated History of Guns. Pepperbox Press. Kent, United Kingdom. 2011

"HistoricalFirearms Colt Single Action Army." Feb. 22, 2013. Web. Aug 24, 2013. 

"Colt Single Action Army." Military History. Sept 2, 2011. Web. Aug 24, 2011. 









Monday, April 15, 2013

Wesley Quaid Rides to Wolf Creek

I am pleased to announce that Book 4 of the Wolf Creek series THE TAYLOR COUNTY WAR published by Western Fictioneers has been released. 

It's a collaborative effort by six different writers, including myself, Douglas Hirt, Clay More, James Reasoner, Chuck Tyrell, and Troy D. Smith. 

It's an honor to be included among a group of such extraordinary writers.


Here is the official book blurb:

Welcome to Wolf Creek. 

Here you will find many of your favorite authors, working together as Ford Fargo to weave a complex and textured series of Old West adventures like no one has ever seen. Each author writes from the perspective of his or her own unique character, blended together into a single novel.

An innocent field trip goes horribly awry when Wolf Creek’s headmaster, Marcus Sublette, and his pupils find themselves in the crossfire of a range war. Ambitious rancher Andrew Rogers will stop at nothing to eliminate his rivals and initiate his broader, nefarious plans –and he has a small army of hired guns to prove it. Can the cowboys of the T-Bar-B, and the lawmen of Wolf Creek, stand in his way, or will the prairie be soaked in blood?



Wesley Quaid in Wolf Creek

Contributing a chapter to Wolf Creek with Wesley Quaid as my character was a lot of fun because it allowed me to explore more of Wesley's past.  This story is set about five years or so before the current Quaid stories and it reveals what he did for a living in the time after the War and before he became an outlaw.  

It is available as an ebook and in paperback.  If you haven't read any of the other Wolf Creek books, be sure to check them out as well.  They all make for great reads.  



           

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Six Sentence Sunday - THE WANTED MAN

By Matthew Pizzolato

Book Description: 
The Wanted Man is a collection of eight short stories set in the American West and touches on themes of vengeance, abuse and honor. Texas Ranger Jud Nelson appears in the title story and receives some aid from an unlikely source in chasing down a killer. Outlaw Wesley Quaid discovers that not only is the law on his trail in the form of Ranger Jud Nelson but a hired assassin has been paid to kill him. Is Texas big enough for the three of them?


The Setup:
These six sentences are from the Wesley Quaid story, "A Stagecoach for Sally." Wesley makes a contribution from one of his forcible banking withdrawals to a saloon girl named Sally and takes offense when the saloon owner refuses to let her leave town.


     "That's none of your damn business."
     "I'm making it my business."  I stepped toward him and stopped three paces away. My right hand dangled near the butt of my Colt.
     Jack noticed and swallowed hard.  Beads of sweat sprouted on his forehead.


Is the outlaw Wesley Quaid capable of being a knight is shining armor?  Find out in THE WANTED MAN short story collection.