Filmsite Movie Review
The Virginian (1929)
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Background

The Virginian (1929) is a classic western - a film adaptation of Owen Wister's 1902 western play and original novel.

The Story

A Wyoming ranch hand foreman, the Virginian (Gary Cooper), confronts a band of outlaw cowboys, who are rustling cattle from his herd and changing brands. Catching some of the gang redhanded, the Virginian sees to their lynching. However, the villainous leader of the gang, Trampas (Walter Huston), is still free.

The film comes to a final climactic showdown in a shoot-out on a dusty western street between Trampas and the Virginian. Trampas is shot down by the Virginian's fast-drawn gun.

The film is most memorable for a very early scene at the bar of a saloon. Insulted by the words: "If I wanna know anything from you, I'll tell ya, you long-legged son of a ---," the Virginian (Gary Cooper) responds by quick-drawing his gun and threatening Trampas with his pistol pressed against his abdomen:

Trampas: "Who's talkin' to you?"
Virginian: "I'm talkin' to you, Trampas."
Trampas: "If I wanna know anything from you, I'll tell ya, you long-legged son of a - "
Virginian: (drawing his gun) "If you wanna call me that, smile."
Trampas: (long pause, followed by a grin) "With a gun against my belly, I-I always smile."

Note: The actual line in Wister's novel was, "When ya call me that, smile!"