"Broken Trail" observation


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Jack Straw from Wichita
June 28, 2006, 07:57 PM
So my wife and I are watching "Broken Trail" on AMC the other night (for those not familiar with it, it's a western in which three men are driving a herd of mustangs to Wyoming, and along the way they rescue a group of Chinese girls who were sold into prostitution). At various points in the movie, the party is attacked by one nefarious group or another, and each time the Chinese girls sort-of cower in the wagon while the men defend them.

After the 4th or 5th time this happens, my wife asks in exasperation, "Why don't they get these girls some guns and teach them how to shoot?"

Bingo.

I just wanted to share this. She is one smart cookie.

-Jack

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The Cavalry
June 28, 2006, 08:00 PM
Took a lot of guts to release a Western with "Broke..." in the title these days...

MrTuffPaws
June 28, 2006, 08:03 PM
Uh, because cowboys could hardly afford guns for themselves, much less a bunch of novices. Not to metion that social structure was far different back then.

BothellBob
June 28, 2006, 08:13 PM
I was fairly happy with the appropriateness of the arms used. My gripes are: 1) Given the period, the age of the hardware would not have been too old, they should have looked newer; and 2) My black powder cartridge loads produce a lot more smoke than I saw from theirs.
-BothellBob

wingnutx
June 28, 2006, 08:26 PM
This reminds me of Firefly, Mal lecturing his new "wife" about defending herself.

Lord, that was funny.

hank327
June 28, 2006, 08:30 PM
The story took place in 1898. They were driving the horses to a purchasing agent who was buying horses for the British army which was fighting the Boer War in South Africa. IIRC, the carbines used were 1873 Winchesters, and at least one had a brass receiver. The handguns were the ever popular 1873 SAA.
So it's likely these weapons would have seen quite a few years of hard use prior
to the time of the story.

Vern Humphrey
June 28, 2006, 08:33 PM
Uh, because cowboys could hardly afford guns for themselves, much less a bunch of novices. Not to metion that social structure was far different back then.

If they'd taken the guns from all the bad guys they killed, they'd have had enough for everybody.

cambeul41
June 28, 2006, 08:55 PM
of slice ‘em up easterns as opposed to shoot ‘em up westerns. As such, Chinese girls cowering in fear just doesn’t ring a bell. That must be an American stereotype.

slabsides
June 28, 2006, 09:27 PM
I enjoyed the characters and scenery in the show. I cheered when Duvall's nephew 'stretched' the horse-thief/rapist. But the shoot-out in the barnyard had me grimacing: Lots of rifle rounds hitting stuff that they should have penetrated, guys who should have been hit, standing in the open, but who kept on fighting, horses standing around that should have panicked and run, and that last pistol shot that took the final outlaw out of his saddle at 80 or 100 yards...as much as I like Duvall, and enjoyed the story, the lack of realism in the gunplay was a detriment. See it for the scenery, not for the gun stuff. Duvall is a fair hand with a croquet mallet, though, isn't he?

mustanger98
June 28, 2006, 11:00 PM
I watched it too.

..."Broken Trail" on AMC the other night... ... At various points in the movie, the party is attacked by one nefarious group or another, and each time the Chinese girls sort-of cower in the wagon while the men defend them.

After the 4th or 5th time this happens, my wife asks in exasperation, "Why don't they get these girls some guns and teach them how to shoot?"

I noticed that too. Thing was though, those girls were young, didn't speak English, and didn't know what would happen to them next in any event. They weren't used to the situation they were dealing with. We think "get some grit and stand up for yourself" or something to that effect. They were doing good just to deal with busted nerves. Duvall tried teaching one girl to ride, but it didn't look too hopeful. Seems like they did best on food and Thomas Haden Church teaching the one girl to drive the wagon and mules and that in itself was a big improvement for her (and if you read the ending notes, they got married and their grandchildren are still ranching now).

Uh, because cowboys could hardly afford guns for themselves, much less a bunch of novices. Not to metion that social structure was far different back then.

I don't think the availability of guns was as big an issue as the price of ammo. Plus you don't want a bunch of untrained kids out there throwing lead in all directions because when their nerves are busted, they could just as easily throw it your way in the madness.

Social structure? Western women learned to ride and shoot in many many cases dependant upon whether or not they grew up in a city or out on the ranches.

I was fairly happy with the appropriateness of the arms used. My gripes are: 1) Given the period, the age of the hardware would not have been too old, they should have looked newer; and 2) My black powder cartridge loads produce a lot more smoke than I saw from theirs.

IIRC, Winchester produced the 1873 model well into the 1920's. Colt's produced the 1873 Army Single-action (1st Generation, IIRC) up until 1941.

They may have been using the same old 5-1 blanks Hollywierd's been using for the last 50+ years.

The story took place in 1898. They were driving the horses to a purchasing agent who was buying horses for the British army which was fighting the Boer War in South Africa. IIRC, the carbines used were 1873 Winchesters, and at least one had a brass receiver. The handguns were the ever popular 1873 SAA. So it's likely these weapons would have seen quite a few years of hard use priorto the time of the story.

I thought I recognized at least one 1866 Winchester (brass frame). As I just said, those weapons hadn't nearly completed their production runs in 1898.

If they'd taken the guns from all the bad guys they killed, they'd have had enough for everybody.

Right on. I would have. Might as well get something in return for those ropes Tom lost. Besides, if they're not fighting/surviving equipment, they also make for valuable trading stock. (see also: "Conagher")

of slice ‘em up easterns as opposed to shoot ‘em up westerns. As such, Chinese girls cowering in fear just doesn’t ring a bell. That must be an American stereotype.

Yeah. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" comes to mind.

I enjoyed the characters and scenery in the show. I cheered when Duvall's nephew 'stretched' the horse-thief/rapist. But the shoot-out in the barnyard had me grimacing: Lots of rifle rounds hitting stuff that they should have penetrated, guys who should have been hit, standing in the open, but who kept on fighting, horses standing around that should have panicked and run, and that last pistol shot that took the final outlaw out of his saddle at 80 or 100 yards...as much as I like Duvall, and enjoyed the story, the lack of realism in the gunplay was a detriment. See it for the scenery, not for the gun stuff. Duvall is a fair hand with a croquet mallet, though, isn't he?

Yeah, Billy Fender needed stretching. That other rapist got off kinda easy losing his thumbs if you ask me, but he lost his grasp anyway. That smallpox salesman needed taking out too. I also thought the horses were a bit too calm with guns going off around them, especially them being mustangs.

The 80-100yd pistol shot... it's not impossible, but a guy'd hafta know his gun and load to make it work. Shades of Bob Munden, but from what I've seen of him, he don't usually work with a moving target out that far.

That scene where Tom shot the horse that busted his leg... until then, I'd never thought of a horse reacting that violently to it.

My observation was it'd be poetic justice if Nola shot "Big Ears". (see also: "Crossfire Trail")

Surefire
June 29, 2006, 02:16 AM
I thought this was an excellent movie, and a nice change of pace. I'm not one to give out many 4 star ratings, but this one IMO deserves it. Great character development and story telling, rather than a non-stop shoot-em-up as many of the spaghetti westerns were IMO.


Yes, the gun play had flaws, but most westerns do not do a realistic job at gun fights. Remember 'Open Range' (which I liked in general)....Costner emptied 9 shots out of a 6-shot revolver without reloading! In addition, people were flying practically 10 feet in the air when hit with buckshot (totally nonsense).

'Broken Trail' to me felt like a big screen movie, rather than a 2 part TV mini-series.

This movie has earned a spot in my top 10 favorite westerns of all time. 'Unforgiven' and 'Shane' rank the two highest for me.

BothellBob
June 29, 2006, 12:21 PM
OK, Shame on me. My initial comment was based on Part I, and I did not watch Part II until last night. So there was a little more smoke than I recalled, and I can not know for sure if the Winchesters were of small pistol caliber, or even 30-30 (which was smokeless). Was that a Yellow Boy? They initially came in 44 rimfire, if I recall correctly, so they wouldn't put out as much smoke as the 44 Russian I shoot. And while I agree that there was too much missing with the rifles, if they were chambered for the lighter, carbine rounds that were possible in that period, then under penetration could be a problem.
But, as to that 1875 SAA Remington that Big Ears used in Scene I of Part II (to shoot the wrong rat), just how did he get those two shots off so quickly?
His Pickiness - BothellBob

rev214
June 29, 2006, 12:37 PM
"Why don't they get these girls some guns and teach them how to shoot?"

they probably didn't have their state Firearm Identification Card...
and probably most of the hollywooders working on the movie would believe that last statement.

i'm not complaining...i was happy to see a decent western that wasn't trying (at least too much) to push down my throat 21st-century politically-correct garbage...with this movie, and Open Range, Robert Duvall has performed some really good "western" characters...

El Tejon
June 29, 2006, 01:36 PM
Maybe it's a communication problem? How many cowpunching dudes were fluent in Cantonese?:D

mustanger98
June 29, 2006, 09:05 PM
Maybe it's a communication problem? How many cowpunching dudes were fluent in Cantonese?

Cowpunching dudes... :uhoh: :rolleyes: That's some more oxymoron... But I agree that not many would be fluent in Cantonese. That's why Tom had to get Mr. LongHay to translate for 'em. (I haven't yet checked back on imdb to see how they spelled his name.)

About as many as there were Japanese samurai fluent in English during the late eighteen hundreds, as seen on The Last Samurai.

That would be about as probable as a Yankee officer being fluent in Japanese, which BTW contains many many dialects. My Grandpa- the one I've told about who was at Normandy and the Bulge- was in Japan after WW2 as a mechanic, truck driver, and military police officer. He told me once that when they were on the road, they'd drive 50miles and the language would change enough they couldn't understand completely.

keano44
June 30, 2006, 03:40 PM
I wondered (aloud to my wife) why the Chinese (bath house) guy didn't help the men fight, instead of cowering with the women in the house.

Justin
June 30, 2006, 03:53 PM
This reminds me of Firefly, Mal lecturing his new "wife" about defending herself.

Lord, that was funny.

If somebody ever tries to kill you, why, you just kill 'em right back. :D

DF357
June 30, 2006, 04:31 PM
Costner emptied 9 shots out of a 6-shot revolver without reloading!

I thought I was the only one who noticed that.

It was funny becasue they focused the camera pretty close up on the gun and let it go nine times!

mustanger98
June 30, 2006, 07:19 PM
I wondered (aloud to my wife) why the Chinese (bath house) guy didn't help the men fight, instead of cowering with the women in the house.

In the first fight scene Mr. LongHay figured in, the rapists had already busted his head open and I'd say he was still reeling from that while Tom was shooting the varmint's thumbs off. Kwai Chang Kane wouldn't have let them get nearly that far.

In later fight scenes, I don't really know until the last one... he was un-armed and Kung Fu don't work when you're dealing with armed badguys.

It was funny becasue they focused the camera pretty close up on the gun and let it go nine times!

Sounds like bad editting to me. Or maybe a not to B-westerns.

Sistema1927
June 30, 2006, 08:50 PM
They were so hard up for guns that one of the rifles that they used didn't have either a front barrel band or a front sight. And yet, with this sightless rifle they were able to pick off a guy galloping on horseback at about 200 yards. (Watch it on DVD, and see what I am talking about.)

Onmilo
June 30, 2006, 09:02 PM
Hollyweed routinely removes the sights on rifles so better the actors facial expressions may be seen.
1866 Winchester rifles were produced until 1898 but the majority of production had ceased by 1885 and I doubt that a cowboy who had enough money to buy a single action army would have skimped on his rifle like that.
By 1898 a good majority of cowboys that I have studied in pictures of the era seemed to have favored the powerful 1886 and 1895 Winchester lever action rifles, not obsolete rimfire caliber rifles.
Robert Duvall was armed with an 1875 Remington revolver and he seems to favor this design in most of the westerns he has appeared in.
He also packed an 1873 carbine so I am betting his character chose an 1875 in .44/40 instead of .44 Remington caliber.
The exception I can think of is Lonesome Dove in which he is armed with a Walker Colt and a Henry rifle.

Vern Humphrey
June 30, 2006, 09:28 PM
They were so hard up for guns that one of the rifles that they used didn't have either a front barrel band or a front sight. And yet, with this sightless rifle they were able to pick off a guy galloping on horseback at about 200 yards. (Watch it on DVD, and see what I am talking about.)

That's Roy Rogers' rifle -- it went with his 150 shot revolver that would knock the gun out of the bad guy's hand at a hundred yards. Without aiming.:D

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