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Winchester '73 (1950)


Written by Tim Dirks

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Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Winchester '73 (1950)

In director Anthony Mann's unique and classic, noirish black and white "psychological" western film - a tale of murder, revenge and deceit based on a story by Stuart Lake - and the first of eight films (five westerns) pairing James Stewart with director Mann - it had all of the stereotypical attributes of an 'oater' (ie., a law-abiding town run by Marshal Wyatt Earp (Will Geer), an exciting shoot-out rifle competition, a decisive poker card-game, a buckboard chase, Indians on the warpath attacking a besieged group of cavalry troopers, a shoot-out between desperados and a posse, a deadly saloon fight, a bank robbery, a frantic horse-chase, and a cliffside rifle duel to the death):

  • the film included many close-ups of the revered, prized, and rare Winchester '73 lever-action rifle - the film's title character in fact - coveted by many of the characters, and leaving a trail of deaths
  • the opening sequence was an exciting, evenly-matched, July 4th, 1876 (Centennial) marksmanship shooting contest in Dodge City, Kansas presided over by Marshal Wyatt Earp (Will Geer); accompanied by his longtime friend-sidekick High-Spade (Millard Mitchell), frontiersman Lin McAdam (James Stewart) participated in the contest to win a prized 1873 Winchester repeating rifle

First Prize: Rare Winchester '73 Rifle

Lin McAdam (James Stewart) Participating in Shooting Contest
  • although he won, the rifle was soon stolen by his surly, runner-up opponent - 'black sheep' outlaw 'Dutch' Henry Brown (Stephen McNally); the slightly mad, hard-bitten, obsessed and vengeful Lin McAdam went on a relentless and vindictive pursuit of villainous 'Dutch' Brown who possessed McAdam's prized, one-of-a-kind and rare Winchester '73 rifle that he had won in the film's long opening sequence
  • numerous plot storylines crossed during McAdam's chase after the stolen fabled rifle and his dark nemesis
  • the high-powered, famed rifle changed hands multiple times - first from the murderous outlaw 'Dutch' Brown who stole the gun, then to disreputable and immoral Indian gun trader Joe Lamont (John McIntire), to savage Indian brave-chief Young Bull (Rock Hudson!), briefly to young cavalry officer Doan (Tony Curtis!, billed as Anthony Curtis) and cantankerous old Army Sgt. Wilkes (Jay C. Flippen), to young, golden-hearted frontier saloon-hall girl Lola Manners' (Shelley Winters) cowardly fiancee Steve (Charles Drake), to a crazed, sneering and sociopathic-psychotic killer 'Waco' Johnny Dean (Dan Duryea), and then back to the outlaw before ending up in the hands of its rightful owner
  • 'Waco' Johnny Dean acted lasciviously toward saloon girl-singer Lola Manners and provoked her fiancee Steve into a deadly gunfight
  • in Jenkins Bar (across the street from a Wells Fargo Bank in the process of being robbed in Tascosa, Texas), McAdam grabbed Waco's left arm, twisted it behind his back and disarmed him, and pounded his face into the bar, before defending himself and shooting 'Waco' to death in the dusty street
  • the film climaxed with a chase and deadly shoot-out near Tascosa, Texas between McAdam and 'Dutch' on a hilly rock cliffside - it was revealed that they were estranged brothers (and 'Dutch' - actually Matthew McAdam - had murdered their father by shooting him in the back in cold-blood)

Sneering and Sociopathic-Psychotic Killer 'Waco' Johnny Dean (Dan Duryea)

McAdam Confronting Waco in Jenkins' Bar

Climactic Shoot-Out Between McAdam and 'Dutch' on a Hilly Rock Cliffside


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