Guns & Ammo Magazine recently ran an article on their top 20 movie shoot-em-ups. Some of mine are on their list, some are not. I still can't believe The Wild Bunch wasn't #1, the bastards. That movies starts with a shootout that's more violent than most movies' climax. G&A had some of my other favorites on the list, but, and I guess this makes me a freak in the gun/action movie world, I can't stand Quentin Tarantino.
Well, since they missed so many good ones, here's my Top 5 list of "forgotten classics". They're not only movies with a lot of cool guns in them, but good all-round action flicks, buddy movies, just-plain-fun GUY movies. If you haven't seen any of these movies, you owe it to yourself to do so post haste.
So here they are, in no particular order because I'm too lazy to do any more editing. Ben’s the movie expert, though, and may care to berate me for my choices but, as loving brothers, we can always settle our differences of opinion with a little gun play. Perhaps he can even come up with a better list. But I doubt it.
The original, the John Wayne movie with the Duke as the eyepatch-wearing whiskey-swilling Deputy U.S. Marshal “Rooster” J. Cogburn. Even if you’ve seen it a dozen times, it’s still good and it’s worth reading the Charels Portis novel it’s based on, too. This is one of damn few movies that measured up to the book. Extra goodies include Robert Duvall as “Lucky” Ned Pepper, a young Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin as the exasperated horse trader Colonel Stonehill, and the Wichita Lineman as Texas Ranger. Stunningly beautiful fall scenery, although filmed in Colorado and not (obviously) Oklahoma.
Quincy: I don't know any Ned Pepper. What's he look like?
Rooster: Short, feisty fella. He's got a messed-up lower lip. I shot him in it.
Quincy: In the lower lip? What was you aiming at?
Rooster: His upper lip.
Rooster: Damn that Texican. Just when you need him he's dead.
Rooster: Boots, I got Hayes and some youngster outside, along with Moon and Quincy. I want you to bury 'em.
Boots: They're dead?
Rooster: I wouldn't want ya to bury them if they wasn't.
Rooster: A fella that carries a big-bore Sharps carbine might come in handy, we get jumped by elephants or buffalo or something.
Rooster: By God, she reminds me of me!
Mattie: Trust you to buy another tall horse.
Rooster:Yeah, he ain't as game as Bo, but Stonehill says he can jump a four-rail fence.
Mattie: You're too old and too fat to be jumping horses.
Rooster: Well, come see a fat old man sometime.[Jumps a four-rail fence].
And perhaps the classic shoot-out of all time.
Rooster: I mean to see you dead in one minute, Ned. Or see you hanged in Fort Smith at Judge Parker's convenience. Which'll it be?
Pepper: I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.
Rooster: Fill your hands you sonofabitch!
"Fill your hands you sonofabitch!"
The Duke spins his Winchester Model ‘92 Saddle Ring carbine on its over-size loop lever to chamber a round and cock it with his right hand. Then he puts the reins in his teeth and pulls his ivory-handled Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker” with his left hand and charges straight at Pepper and his gang. One of the best shooting scenes in a movie ever. Watch close, though. In one shot, the rifle is in his left hand.
Sharps Model 1874 Cavalry Carbine in .45-70. Glen Campbell shoots Ned Pepper’s horse out from under him with it. Rooster: Next time, aim for the horse and maybe you’ll hit Pepper.
Colt-Walker 1847 .44 cap-and-ball revolver, the .44 Magnum of its day, four pounds and damn near a foot and a half long. Rooster [to Mattie]: "Why, by God, girl, that's a Colt's Dragoon! You're no bigger than a corn nubbin, what're you doing with all this pistol?
Tom Cheney has a lever-action Henry Repeating Rifle, the brass-framed Golden Boy in .44 Rimfire, father of the later Winchesters.
Line not in the movie that made me totally cringe during the shootout-at-the-dugout scene, with the Duke shooting his carbine and Glen Campbell his Sharps. My college roommate: “Oh, yeah, right. They must be shooting at like a hundred yards!” See why I’m always on about marksmanship.
Note also in the dugout scene that John Wayne actually uses a lever-action rifle properly…he keeps the butt to his shoulder while working the lever.
Trying to re-make this movie is like trying to repaint the Mona Lisa. Get some original ideas, Hollywood. Matt Damon said he’d never even seen the original, leading me to have serious doubts about his manhood, sexual orientation, and his intelligence.
Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean
Although it seems to have been forgotten by most, this is one of the ultimate guy movies, and a fun romp. Paul Newman is the self-proclaimed “Judge” Roy Bean, after his outlaw career doesn’t go so well. Left for dead, Maria the girl brings him his Colt Single Action Army and he goes and makes things right with the banditos in a pretty good gunfight in the cantina that becomes his “courthouse”. A band of unlucky outlaws (with names like Whorehouse Lucky Jim and Nick the Grub) become his “marshals” (“Ordinarily, I'd take you in my court and try you and hang you. But if you've got money for whiskey, I guess we can dispense with those proceedings.”) because they have “sufficient moral fiber”. Lots of guy humor, good gun fights, cameo by John Huston as Grizzly Adams (“I cohabitated with the bears.”) with a black bear, Zachary Taylor, who ends up in the judge’s care, and develops a strong liking for beer in large quantities. Great sight gag: the graveyard full of all the men Bean has shot or hung has rows of rickety little crosses made of sticks, but the bear rates an elaborate marble monument.
The Judge’s first trial
Judge: Do you have anything to say before we find you guilty?
Sam: I’m not guilty of nothing. There’s no crime that I done wrong.
Judge: Do you deny the killing?
Sam: I do not deny it. But there’s no place in that book [Texas Laws & Statutes] where it says nothing about killing a Chinese. And no one I know ever heard of a law on greaser, niggers, on injuns.
Judge: All men stand equal before the law. And I will hang a man for killing anyone, including chinks, greasers, or niggers. I’m very advanced in my views and outspoken.
Sam: There’s no place in that…
Judge: [Holding up his hand for silence]. Trust in my judgment of the book. Besides, you’re gonna hang no matter what it says in there, ‘cause I am the law and the law is the handmaiden of justice. Get a rope!
Judge: [at the poker table] When I’m losing, beer is fifty dollars.
Lucky Jim: Fifty dollars?!?! You call that justice?
Judge: Justice is the handmaiden of law.
Lucky Jim: You said law was the handmaiden of justice.
Judge: Works both ways.
Tector: [Narrating] Looking back, we had, in the person of Teddy Roosevelt, the finest President in the history of this country. He had the spirit and determination that matched the times and the land. Then the women got the vote, and everything went to hell.
After the Judge rehabilitates a group of traveling whores by placing them in the “protective custody” of his marshalls.
Tector: There is nothing worse than a harlot turned respectable. A reformed anything is bad enough, but a reformed harlot is the direct wrath of the Devil. Seems that those who have spent time giving pleasure for profit are all the more zealous when it comes to dealing out misery.
Later, the now P-whipped marshals want the Judge to apologize for calling their “wives” whores.
Judge: I understand you have taken exception to my calling you whores. I'm sorry. I apologize. I ask you to note that I did not call you callous-ass strumpets, fornicatresses, or low-born gutter sluts. But I did say "whores." No escaping that. And for that slip of the tongue, I apologize. [Cocks his leg and farts as he walks away.]
Stacy Keach plays “Bad Bob” the albino killer outlaw who comes to town for a fast draw showdown on Mainstreet with the Judge. Bean shoots him in the back with a scoped Sharps .50-caliber buffalo rifle from a barn hay loft and blows a pumpkin-sized hole clean through him.
Bad Bob: "Come on out, Beano! I'm ready for ya, Beano!"
Fermel: You call that sportin’? It weren’t a real standup fight.
Judge: Standup? I laid down to steady my aim.
Fermel: Well, I mean he never had a chance.
Judge: Not at all. Never did, never would have. I didn’t ask him to come here. I don’t abide giving killers and chance. He wants a chance, let him go someplace else.
Judge: Don't you have better sense or manners than to disturb a man who's deciding whether to raise or call? Do you know there's a city ordinance against disturbing a man who's deciding whether to raise or call? It's a misdemeanor. You could be shot for it!
John Huston's cameo as mountain man Grizzly Adams: All my life I've been cold. So I come south to die where it's warm. It's warm here.
Judge: There'll be no illegal dyin' here. The only people that die in my town are those that I shoot or hang. Get along with you!
Grizzly: Can't die here! Can't die there! Man can't even die where he sees fit no more! I want no part of what this world's come to and I'm glad my days are at an end.
Judge: The last time that bear ate a lawyer, he had the runs for thirty-three days.
Voice in Crowd: Who are you?
Judge: Justice, ya sons of bitches.
In addition to the Western movie staples, Colt Peacemakers and various Winchesters, the Judge’s coolest lil’ friend is a lever-action Winchester Model 1887 10-gauge shotgun, probably the coolest movie shotgun ever. Arnold had one in T2. Like the afore-mentioned .50-caliber Sharps, it too blows ridiculously large holes in people, or sends them through walls. When Maria fires it at the Judge when he’s cavorting with a whore, it knocks her over backwards.
Everybody’s favorite movie star, the Tommy gun, the Model 1928 .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun makes an appearance in the hands of the crooked lawyer/mayor’s paid police. But they’re no match for the old boys with their revolvers and scatterguns. Even I lost track of all the different Colt and S&W double and single-action revolvers. The Judge and the Marshals go down fighting, pretty much destroying an entire town and an oil field in the process. For Texas and Miss Lily!
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Classic Clint Eastwood. Lots of shooting and a huge body count. Josey starts out riding for vengeance against the Kansas “Red Legs” during the guerrilla warfare in Missouri during the Civil War. In real life, this was some of the nastiest cutthroat combat of the war. With the war over, the guerrillas (except Josey) surrender and take amnesty. A crooked senator (some things never change) instead has the Army shoot them down once they’re disarmed. This leads to a long running chase with frequent gun fights. Clint co-stars with two big ol’ Colt-Walker Model 1847 cap-and-ball .44 revolvers. He’s also got a hidden Colt 1849 “pocket pistol” stashed away for special occasions. Chief Dan George as Lone Waite steals the show on numerous occasions with his droll, underplayed sense of humor.
Josey is taking on an entire camp full of Union cavalry first with a ten-barrel Colt Model 1865 Gatling Gun and, when he runs out of ammo for that, his two big horse pistols.
Jamie: You can't get 'em all, Josie.
Josey: That's a fact.
Jamie: How come you're doing this, then?
Josey: Cuz I ain't got nothin' better to do.
Jamie: Wish’t we had time to bury them fellas.
Josey [spitting tobacco juice on dead man’s forehead]: To Hell with them fellas; buzzards gotta eat, same as worms.
"I thought you might be someone who would try to sneak up behind me with a gun."
Lone: Get ready, little lady. Hell is coming to breakfast.
Lone: I didn't surrender neither, but they took my horse and made him surrender. They have him pulling a wagon up in Kansas I bet.
Josey: Just when I get to likin' someone, they ain't around long.
Lone: I notice when you get to dislikin' someone they ain't around for long neither.
Captain Terrill: Not a hard man to track. He leaves dead men wherever he goes.
Josey: Well, you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?
In addition to the afore-mentioned Gatling Gun, other co-stars include a Sharps Model 1865 with about a 30-inch barrel and a full-length brass telescopic sight, the “sniper rifle” of its day. Josey shoots the rope pulling a ferry full of Red Legs across the river and sends them drifting downriver on a, “Missoura boat ride.”
"Well, Mister Carpetbagger. [spits] We got something in this country called a Missoura Boat Ride."
Most of the guns are time-period correct, and not just Winchesters invented ahead of their time. They’re not sexy, but they’re common for the post Civil War era. A partial list includes: military-issue Springfield 1861 and Enfield 1851 .58-caliber muzzle-loaders. (War of Northern Aggression Union Army Chief of Ordnance, General “Old Fogey” Ripley, didn’t want any of them new-fangled repeaters (Spencers, Henrys), or even breech-loading single-shots, as the soldiers would waste too much ammunition.) The Cavalry has Sharps Model 1863 carbines and you see a few Trapdoor Springfields. I don’t know all the various old pre-Peacemaker single-action revolvers, but there are a buttload of different ones, including a brass-framed Navy Colt.
Did you catch Clint doing the real old-timers’ trick the “Road Agent’s Spin” with those two big cap-and-ball .44s?
Should you see this movie immediately? I reckon so.
Why this wasn’t one of the greatest box office money-makers is beyond me. The character; Michael Gross as Burt Gummer the Ultimate Survivalist. There’s some other people in there, too. Kevin or Fred something-or-other. I believe the movie won the prestigious “Smartest-Thing-Ever-Done-in-a-Horror Movie” award for the scene in which Fred Ward as Earl grabs a Colt Single Action Army out of the glovebox of the truck and checks to make sure it’s loaded when they find people who have been killed. What’s not to love about giant carnivorous underground worms that can only be killed with really big guns? Burt, fortunately, has all kinds of big guns. The entire wall in his “rec room” is pegboard hanging with dozens of guns. Okay, Val and Earl make the movie better as the redneck buddy team and have most of the best lines. (Male bonding…Val: Good luck, shithead. Earl: Don’t worry about me, jerkoff.) Bonus: Reba McEntire with a .458 Winchester Magnum.
Val: I can’t believe we said no to free beer!
Val: Roger that Burt, and congratulations. Be advised, however, that there are two more, repeat two more, motherhumpers.
Earl: I ask you, is this a job for intelligent men?
Val: Well, show me one and I’ll ask him.
Val: See, we plan ahead, that’s why we’re never doing anything right now. Earl explained it all to me.
Rhonda: No, you don’t understand, these creatures are absolutely unprecedented.
Nestor: Yeah, but where do they come from?
Burt: Broke into the wrong Goddamn rec room, didn’t you, you bastard?
Val: What the hell is in those things, Burt?
Burt: A few household chemicals in the proper portions.
Earl: What kind of fuse is that?
Burt: Cannon fuse.
Earl: What the hell do you use it for?
Burt. My cannon.
Chang: Earl, here’s some Swiss cheese and some bullets.
There’s a piece for every gun lover in this movie. The good old Peacemaker, of course, and a Model 94 Winchester lever-action .30-30, make their appearances…it is set in the West. Some Winchester Model 70’s, big ones, .375 H&H Magnum and .458 Winchester Magnum. Pistols: S&W Model 19 .357 Magnum, Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum, Sig-Sauer P226 9mm automatic. Shotguns: Remington 870 pump and a Winchester Defender pump with a pistol grip. Rifles: Heckler & Koch HK-91, Colt AR-15, Steyr-Mannlicher SSG sniper rifle. There’s a Mini-Uzi or two in there. The Only big disappointment for me was the lack of an FN-FAL or M1 Garand, although there is one of the latter on the wall in Burt's Rec Room.
"I think I scared him."
Of course, the real star of the movie is Burt’s Elephant Gun, a double-barrel exposed hammer William Moore & Co 8-guage.
Although nothing can quite compare to the original, the rest of the Tremors series is worth seeing too, just for fun. Graboids become Shriekers become Ass-Blasters. Grizzly .50-caliber sniper rifle, Quad-.50 anti-aircraft gun, Gatling gun, Punt gun, lots of high explosives, and Burt given full access to the weapons of the Mexican Army. “Burt knows his bombs.”
This is another great guys-‘n’-guns movie reminiscent of the good old ‘80’s action movies with the buddy team, a shitload of cool guns, and justice served in the end. The Rundown just kind of slipped through the cracks at the box office and on video; most people I talk to have never heard of it. It’s just a fun movie, full of colorful characters. The always cool and charismatic Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is Beck, the bounty hunter sent to a dead-end mining town in the middle of the Amazon, to find Travis, who no one I know can see and not think “Stifler”, which in turn makes me think of Stifler’s Mom. Romps through the jungle fighting rebels, Harvey the mine-owner’s (Christopher Walken) army of thugs, high-speed chases in jeeps, hallucinogenic fruit, parasites that go up your pee-pee, and monkeys…bad monkeys. And of course the final shootout involving just about every military firearm from the past century and a crazy Scotsman named Delcan who calls the Rock “Little Fella” and stampedes cattle with his bagpipes. Watch for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cameo. This action flick goes by fast in a blaze of guns ‘n’ fun.
Harvey: I never met an American who didn’t like guns.
Mariana: I’d offer you a beer, but it seems you blew up my bar.
Hatcher: What can I do for you, Mr. Beck?
Beck: I have no desire to fight you or your men. For that reason, you have two options. Option A, you leave the Gato and the girl and you walk out of town, no questions asked.
Hatcher: What’s Option B?
Beck: I make you.
Travis: For what it’s worth, I hope you enjoy the fall.
Beck: What fall?
Travis: [shoving] This fall.
Beck: Tell him I don’t want to fight him.
Travis: [translating] He says he pisses on you ancestors, and that you would make a very pretty bride.
Beck: Is this the only way in and out?
Declan: If you want to stay alive.
Beck: Why is that?
Delcan: That, there! That’s the jungle, little fella. You’ve got anacondas in there, poison arrow frogs, black flies, bullet ants. If they don’t get you, the rebels will.
Delcan: [in nearly incomprehensible Scottish brogue] He caught up with poor Mariana in the jungle and relieved her of her artifact.
Travis: What did you say?
Delcan: I said [talking slow and loud] he relieved her of her artifact. It’s a word in the English language. Art-i-fact.
Delcan: [stampeding cattle playing Highland Laddie on his bagpipes in the middle of a massive gun fight] Rage, rage... against the dying of the light... for there shall be no mercy... for any force that stands... blocking this path of his righteousness! BOOM-SHAKA-LAKA-TA-DA!
I could watch this movie again a couple of times just for the final shootout.
There are lots of beautiful guns in this movie, including quite a few that you usually don’t see in the movies, oldies but goodies from the military weapons category. My favorite is the Model 1918A2 Browning Automatic Rifle, the awesome BAR in .30-06. An M14 always gives me a warm and fuzzy when I see one in a movie as well. The M21 sniper rifle looks like a B-Square mount and a civilian scope, but then again no one in the movie says it’s a real M21. Only the Rock can use an M14 as a pistol.
Only the Rock uses an M14 as a pistol.
On the dune buggies and jeeps, best of show award goes to the awesome German MG3, the modern version of the WWII MG42 in 7.62x51mm NATO; cyclic rate of fire: 1,200 rounds per minute. Another oldie but goodie in the machine gun department is the Browning Model 1919A4 air-cooled machine gun in .30-06. Oh yeah, there’s of course an M60, but who cares about that standard-movie-issue piece of crap? Kalashnikovs galore, some SKSs, an old PPSh-41 Russian “burp gun” with the 71-round drum magazine, and the Chinese-made version of the semi-auto 7.62x54R Dragunov SVD sniper rifle.
There’s more pistols than you can shake a stick at as well, starting with the good old Colt Model 1911A1, which the Rock knows how to handle. Some others I caught in there (not all I’m sure): Walther P-38, an old British Webley revolver, Walther PPK, Soviet Tokarev, Desert Eagle .44 Automag, various double-action Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers in .38 Special and 357 Magnum and a Colt Model 1917 in .45-ACP, and the old German C96 Broomhandle Mauser.
Shotguns, too. Lots of 12-guage pumps, mainly Remington 870s and Mossberg 500’s in the plain jane riot gun configuration, and I think I saw an old Ithaca Model 37 make a cameo. The Rock figures out how to work and shoot two pump-action shotguns simultaneously. He's almost as good as me.
When one 12-guage just isn't enough.
Okey-dokey. There you have 'em. Time to put 'em on your Netflix list and watch them the first chance you get. You'll be glad you did, especially if it's the first time you've seen them.