Tuesday, December 31, 2013


If I didn’t know that Cowboy was produced by Columbia, I would have thought this 1958 movie was the inspiration for many of ASJ episodes’ plots.  Based on Frank Harris' 1930 book My Reminiscences as a Cowboy, it stars Glenn Ford as Tom Reese, a cattle-driving, poker-playing trail boss and Jack Lemmon as Frank Thomas, a hotel clerk who wants to be a cowboy. 

Vaughn Taylor (the first desk clerk in Return to Devil's Hole and Willis in The Day They Hanged Kid Curry) plays the hotel manager who is Frank's boss.  Many scenes in this movie seemed to be ancestors of, especially, 21 Days to Tenstrike and The McCreedy Feud.  Ostensibly about Frank’s desire to join Reese’s cattle drive so he can meet up with his Mexican girlfriend, the movie is actually an interesting character study of the changes experienced by a man who is out of his comfort zone.

Here is a list of scenes in Cowboy that resonate with ASJ:
* A Mexican grandee who has, at his side, not his sister but his daughter;
* A partnership between two men who are opposites, but in this case they don’t much like each other and it’s a marriage of convenience only;
* Scenes of herding cattle on a trail drive, but with more detail as they showed the chuck wagon meals, the soreness from riding and one man giving another a massage which, if this hadn’t been a movie from the mid-20th century, could certainly have implied something much less innocent than what was clearly meant;
* Secret meetings at “a mission north of Guadelupe,” although the outcome here was not positive as it was in the TV show;
* A fight between drovers, although this time it was over a girl rather than who was doing which job;
* Beeves worth $20 in Chicago, and they sure weren't scrawny;
* A death on the trail, with the actual funeral, not just a few words spoken later.

There were also a few interesting lines of dialog which I could easily see Kid Curry saying when depressed or Hannibal Heyes saying when trying to persuade Curry not to use his gun, although in Cowboy they were voiced by a former lawman:
“Man gets a reputation with a gun, he’s just got to do too much killin’.”
“A man has to have something besides a gun and a saddle.  You just can’t make it all by yourself.”

Glenn Ford is always good and it’s fun to see a young Jack Lemmon.  There is also a very interesting trailer as a bonus feature; it starts off with the two stars talking directly to the camera—to the audience—about why people should go see the film and then it shows some actual scenes from the movie.  At only 92 minutes, Cowboy is a quick and easy film to watch.