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Old 03-28-2019, 09:13 PM
 
4,830 posts, read 1,534,912 times
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I always notice this in westerns, the police or law officers, will always wait for the villains to draw their pistols first, before drawing theirs. Like in this example from Tombstone:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=eIpVWTZYWr8

But you see it in other Western movies as well.

But in modern times, the police always have their guns drawn, and aimed and ready to go, when making arrests. Like when they send in SWAT teams to make arrests, guns out and ready to go.

I am wondering, did they actually historically wait for the villains to draw first before drawing, when making arrests in the old west times, or is that just a movie style cliche, and not historically accurate?
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Old 03-28-2019, 09:24 PM
 
Location: StlNoco Mo
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Depends on who they were trying to arrest. With chicken thieves and drunks, they probably never had to touch their guns, but against bank robbers and notorious gunmen they would be foolish to give them the advantage.
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Old 03-28-2019, 09:26 PM
 
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I like to think the "real" West was more like what was portrayed in "Unforgiven". If you wanted to kill someone, you killed them in the most expedient way possible.

"You just shot an unarmed man".
"Well, he should have armed himself."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AVpaOuE1Pg

And like Pat Garrett waiting for Billy the Kid in his bedroom and shooting him to death when he entered.

You just get it done however.

Last edited by Gingko; 03-28-2019 at 09:38 PM..
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Old 03-29-2019, 05:10 AM
 
Location: 912 feet above sea level
2,270 posts, read 878,579 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
I always notice this in westerns, the police or law officers, will always wait for the villains to draw their pistols first, before drawing theirs. Like in this example from Tombstone:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_c...&v=eIpVWTZYWr8

But you see it in other Western movies as well.

But in modern times, the police always have their guns drawn, and aimed and ready to go, when making arrests. Like when they send in SWAT teams to make arrests, guns out and ready to go.

I am wondering, did they actually historically wait for the villains to draw first before drawing, when making arrests in the old west times, or is that just a movie style cliche, and not historically accurate?
Of course not.

In the case of the historical shootout at the OK Corral, the Earps were moving to disarm the Clanton gang, who were already causing trouble and were in violation of Tombstone's prohibition of carrying firearms (those entering town had to surrender their weapons - why would a lawman allow someone the opportunity to produce a firearm that person wasn't even legally allowed to carry?). The Earps and company were variously holding their guns (though, generally, discreetly - they were hoping everything would go down without incident) or had them readily available. It is not even certain that all the gang members were armed (accounts differ on whether or not Tom McLaury had turned in his gun at the saloon).

The idea that lawmen were giving criminals some sort of 'sporting chance' is pure nonsense. They were performing a job, not practicing some sort of chivalric code. Quick-draw duels are almost entirely mythical, as were the ludicrous scenes of one gunslinger slaying a handful of opponents at once (those stupid enough to try such things led very short lives). Also, long guns were often favored, in contrast to the archtypical revolvers of cinema.

The western genre's accuracy in portraying the behavior of law enforcement is about on par with that in Die Hard - which is to say, like pretty much everything in pretty much every western, it's fantasy.
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Old 03-29-2019, 06:25 AM
 
Location: Glasgow Scotland
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Have a read about Wyatt Earp.. https://www.history.com/news/6-thing...out-wyatt-earp
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Old 03-29-2019, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Caverns measureless to man...
7,247 posts, read 4,669,329 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gingko View Post
I like to think the "real" West was more like what was portrayed in "Unforgiven". If you wanted to kill someone, you killed them in the most expedient way possible.

"You just shot an unarmed man".
"Well, he should have armed himself."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AVpaOuE1Pg

And like Pat Garrett waiting for Billy the Kid in his bedroom and shooting him to death when he entered.

You just get it done however.
You only get one chance to make the first impression in a gunfight. Lawmen who enjoyed long lives and careers generally did so by consistently ensuring they maintained the advantage when confronting someone thought to be dangerous. Skilled lawmen rarely left anything to chance if it could be avoided. That doesn't mean they went into every encounter with guns drawn, but good lawmen were always ready to draw their weapon quickly if the moment called for it. Much like most police officers today.

That said, Hollywood does greatly exaggerate how common gunfights were in the Old West. Another thing that "Unforgiven" got right was that most men were not skilled gunfighters at all, and even those who did live rough, violent lives were usually reluctant to escalate a confrontation to the point where guns were drawn - because even experienced men knew that no matter how good you were, anything could go wrong in the heat of the moment, and there was no certainty about how it would turn out. Just like today, most men just wanted to get through life without causing trouble or fighting it out with the law, and violent sociopaths like John Wesley Hardin or Billy the Kid were extreme rarities.
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Old 03-29-2019, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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The quick draw duel seen in so many movies and TV shows is a creation of the films and television programs. When homicide was the goal, or protecting one's own life, there was no code of chivalry which said you had to meet in the street and observe some sort of fairness doctrine. That stuff belonged to the Code Duello, where some gentleman has challenged another over some perceived insult. Those were fought by a strict set of rules with seconds there to make sure that the rules were observed.

Nothing at all like that prevailed in the west. When someone wanted to kill someone else, it was typically either a matter of tempers flaring on the spot with both antagonists reaching for guns, or more likely, someone shot from ambush where they had no chance to fight back. No formality, no meeting in the street, no notion of fairness, just killing and surviving. In the case of the temper fueled shootout, the opponents were most likely drunk. Someone thinks he has been cheated at cards. That someone goes home and comes back with a shotgun. The victim may never see it coming.

The lawmen of the west, particularly in the wild Kansas cattle towns, seldom drew their guns and when they did, it was much more likely to use as a club against some obnoxious drunk who wouldn't obey orders to calm down or leave the premises. Wyatt Earp was famous for "dragooning" miscreants (hitting them with the butt of his large revolver). In his career in Kansas he was among several lawmen shooting at an escaping criminal and it may have been his bullet which killed the guy, but no one knows. Apart from that, he never shot anyone while there. Bat masterson's brother Ed was also a deputy in Dodge and he was killed because he tried to disarm a drunk while not drawing his own weapon first.

Finally, when the Earps confronted the Clanton gang in the vacant lot in Tombstone, Doc Holiday was holding a shotgun while the Earp brothers still had their pistols holstered. The Earps hoped for a peaceful solution and knew that if they came with drawn guns, it would be interpreted as an intent to kill. They didn't have their guns in their holsters because they wanted to give their opponents some sort of fair chance.

Last edited by Grandstander; 03-29-2019 at 01:05 PM..
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Old 03-29-2019, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
9,137 posts, read 8,281,799 times
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I don't think any old movies, made before 1980, are historically accurate.

The Ten Commandments? The Jews did not build the great pyramids.
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Old 03-29-2019, 04:46 PM
 
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Movies always portrayed stories that had the good guys and the bad guys. Reality was that most of the players were more similar than different. It was an extremely violent time.

I've always thought the John Wayne movie the Searchers to be more fact based than most westerns of that era.
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Old 03-29-2019, 06:56 PM
 
Location: Caverns measureless to man...
7,247 posts, read 4,669,329 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by historyfan View Post
Movies always portrayed stories that had the good guys and the bad guys. Reality was that most of the players were more similar than different. It was an extremely violent time.

I've always thought the John Wayne movie the Searchers to be more fact based than most westerns of that era.
It's always been highly regarded in that vein, and rightly so. Some others from that period that always impressed me were Monte Walsh and Culpepper Cattle Company, although that one is often excessively violent, having been made so soon after The Wild Bunch. McCabe and Mrs. Miller was very authentic in most ways.

Some aspects of Shane were very authentic, too, if you get past that silly deerskin leisure suit. And there were aspects of Little Big Man that were so perfectly done I wondered who their advisors were, like the scene where Hoffman's character runs into his old pal Wild Bill Hickock and reaches out his right hand to shake hands - and Hickock reaches to shake with his left hand, so he could always leave his right hand within inches of his gun. That was a very nice touch. Later on, Lonesome Dove was a masterpiece of authenticity.

But you're right about the fine line between the sacred and the profane in the Old West. More than one lawman was a wanted outlaw one or two territories over, and some were even both lawman and outlaw in the same town. It was a brutal existence, nobody expected mercy from either the environment or their fellow men, and life was very cheap.
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