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Grey, Z., 1937. Majesty’s Rancho. New York, New York Sunday News.

When “Majesty’s Rancho” was first published, in New York Sunday News, 26th September 1937, Zane Grey was 65 years old. It’s prequel, The Light of Western Stars, was published 24 years earlier. I mention this, because I believe it has an impact on the end result of “Majesty’s Rancho“. Later publishings were in hardcover in 1938 by Harper & Brothers, in 1942 as an Armed Services Edition and in 1949 by Zane Grey Western Books.

I had to pull back several times while reading “Majesty’s Rancho” and writing this review because I kept on being hit by a sense of “Huh?” and “Say what?”. One reason was the way Madge/Majesty was treated in the story. Grey did not like a female protagonist who might be perceived as possibly stronger than the male protagonist (Pauly, T.H., 2014). By the time he had finished with Madeline in The Light of Western Stars, Grey had found his recipe for breaking such women down and he used that recipe for what it was worth in “Majesty’s Rancho“. He was apparently not alone in not wanting that. Reviewers and the blurb all seem to agree that she needed taking down a few notches.

One of the reasons I felt this way, was because all the main protagonists and the antagonist blamed Madge for their own behavior. Madge blamed Madge for how she behaved, Uhl (antagonist) blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her, Rollie blamed Madge for how he treated her, Lance blamed Madge for how he behaved towards her and Gene blamed Madge for how he and Lance treated her. Talk about internalizing and externalizing blame in stereotypically gendered ways. The only people who did not blame Madge for their own behaviors were Ren Starr and Nels. These two men were voices of reason throughout the story.

Nels: “Wal, I have. An’ I’m gamblin’ on her, Gene. Wild as a young filly, shore she was. But good as gold an’ as true as steel. When she was heah last I had some jars, you bet. I had to figger oot thet times had changed since you an’ me ran after girls. We’ve stayed right in one spot, Gene, an’ this old world has moved on.”

“Right. I’ll bet you we have it coming to us. Madge said in her letter she was having a crowd of college friends come to visit her.”

“Fine. She did thet last time an’ I never had such fun.”

Another thing I had a problem with was the way Madge was blamed for the current finances of the farm. However, when she left the farm, for The University of Southern California, as a 16 year-old their family was wealthy. Madge, herself, had a fond worth a million dollars and her mother was even wealthier. In addition, their ranch was doing really well. That perception was maintained by both her mother and her father the entire time she was away, meaning Madge spent money accordingly. Instead of letting her know that the Crash on Wall Street in 1929 had affected their family and that they all needed to use less money, they told her nothing. Gene had no head for money and kept making unwise money choices. He was afraid of letting Madeline (his wife) do their books in case she found out he had taken out a mortgage on the ranch. All the way through the story, Lance keeps up an internal ranting towards her spending yet he also kept his mouth shut because of a promise to Gene. Madge had sensed something was off the last time she was home but did not know what it was. Before coming home, she had decided she would be spending the rest of her time and money on the upkeep of the ranch. She just wanted one last summer with friends.

“I get it,” she said, soberly, dropping those penetrating eyes. “I’ve always understood Majesty’s Rancho was mine. You know, just in a vain and playful way, perhaps. How about that, Dad—seriously?”

“Of course this ranch is yours—or will be someday, which is just the same. And a white elephant—my daughter.”

“Not for little Madge. What do you suppose I went to college for? What did I study economics for?… Dad—Mom, I tell you I’m home for good. I’m crazy about my home. It has been swell to have unlimited money. Let me play around this summer—entertain my friends—then I’ll hop to the job.”

Madge/Majesty Stewart is the daughter of Gene Stewart and Madeline Hammond from The Light of Western Stars. She has grown up on an awesome ranch right across the border from New Mexico (Blake, K., 2014). When we first meet her she is an honor student and secretary to the student body at the University of Southern California. She is popular with her fellow students and is considered kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. Her beauty and spirit attract men to her, some nice and some not so nice (like Honey Bee Uhl). Except for Ren Starr and Nels, all the men we get to know in “Majesty’s Rancho” want to possess Madge.

Lance Sidway is the male protagonist. Much like Madge, he is beautiful, kind and sweet to others, hardworking and a little wild. He loves women and they like him. His financial background is completely different to Madge’s, and that background goes some way in explaining how completely incapable he is of understanding Madge. His mom had died early, the Crash and Great Depression came and took their ranch, he had to quit college, his dad died and Lance had to get his sister’s surgery and recovery paid for. So he and Umpqua, his horse, went to Hollywood and Umpqua made a name of itself. Lance got sick of never making a name of himself, always having to be a stunt or boyfriend to  up-and-coming actors, and having to play second fiddle to his horse. So he left Hollywood with Umpqua to find the Wild West he had heard of.

Lance and Umpqua’s ride from Los Angeles, California to Douglas, Arizona.

What he found was that both he and his horse got into better shape and that the West was not so wild after all.

He knew that arid country, having been to Palm Springs and Indio with motion-picture companies. Still, sight of the rolling wasteland with its knolls of mesquite and flats of greasewood, and the irregular barren mountains zigzagging the horizon, afforded him keen pleasure. How different this country from the golden pastures and black hills and swift streams of Oregon! Lance could not have conceived a greater contrast. And by noonday the June heat of the desert was intense. Sweat oozed out of his every pore and Umpqua was wet. But this heat was what both horse and rider needed. They were heavy from underwork and overeating.

Gene Stewart, Madge’s dad, is also mostly a nice guy. He longs for an exciting past he could understand and not the boring demands of being a settled man to an adult (18) daughter. He projects much of his unhappiness on to Madge and there are moments when she wonders if he really loves her. Grey was 65 when the serial was published. He bemoaned the older, slower days when nature remained unspoiled by automobiles and automatic weapons (Cast, C.C., 2008). Gene is written with this type of spirit. Gene’s wife, Madeline is a background figure who comforts Gene and Madge when needed.

When Madge and Lance meet both fall immediately in love. However, from the time they both meet again at the ranch they treat each other atrociously. If this is love, then I’m not missing anything in my life. Why would Grey write them both so jaded? It’s as though he had seen “Gone With the Wind” and wanted to write something like that. Such “romances” have never appealed to me and I wasn not able to finish either the book or watch the film of “Gone With the Wind“.

The main antagonist of “Majesty’s Rancho” is Honey Bee Uhl. Grey often makes his antagonists cartoonish and Uhl is no exception. He did not feel as dangerous as he should have even when the story got to his main scene. I wasn’t able to believe in him, and I think that was part of my problem with this story.

All in all I have to say that “Majesty’s Rancho” is far from one of Grey’s best works. As far as language, it felt authentic. There were racial slurs typical of white farmers of that time. Most of the time I felt as though I was reading the words of a bitter old man, which Grey probably wasn’t. And the romance was soooo not my style. However, if you are into stuff like “Gone With the Wind” then this might be a story for you.


Available free at Roy Glashan’s Library and Internet Archive.

Reviews:

Translations:

  • Croatian: Grey, Z., 1961/1964/1966/1985. Princezin ranč. Opatija: Otokar Keršovani. Omer Lakomica (Translator).
  • Czech: Grey, Z., 1998. Ranč Majesty. Český Těšín: Oddych. Radomír Karas (Illustrator). Karel Chlouba (Translator).
  • German: Grey, Z., 1952. Majesty; München: AWA-Verl. Dr. Hansheinz Werner (Translator).
  • Hungarian: Grey, Z., 1990. Majesti tanyája. Budapest: Sprint. Pap László (Translator). (2011, Budapest: Fapadoskonyv.hu.
  • Italian: Grey, Z., 1961/1969. Il ranch di Majesty. Milano: Sonzogno. Agnese Silvestri Giorgi (Translator).
  • Norwegian: Grey, Z., 1974. Den fortapte ranchen. Oslo: Ingar Weyer Tveitan. Ulf Gleditsch (Translator). (1988, Fredhøi; 1997, Egmont bøker)
  • Spanish: Grey, Z., 1950. El rancho Majestad. Barcelona Bruguera, 1950. Luis Conde Vélez (Translator).

Bibliography

 

 
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Posted by on 2018-10-28 in Books

 

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Video

The Border Legion, 1940 film adaptation

The Border Legion, 1940: Information from IMdB

Produced by Republic Pictures

  • Associate producer Joseph Kane

Directed by Joseph Kane

Adapted by Olive Cooper, Louis Stevens and George Carleton Brown

Cast:

Roy Rogers Roy Rogers …Dr. Stephen Kellogg, aka Steve Kells

George 'Gabby' Hayes George ‘Gabby’ Hayes …Honest John Whittaker

Carol Hughes Carol Hughes …Alice Randall

Joe Sawyer Joe/Joseph Sawyer …Jim Gulden

Maude Eburne Maude Eburne …Hurricane Hattie McGuire

Jay Novello Jay Novello …Santos

Hal Taliaferro Hal Taliaferro …Sheriff Amos Link

Dick Wessel Dick Wessel …Oscar Red McGooney

Paul Porcasi Paul Porcasi …Tony

Robert Emmett Keane Robert Emmett Keane …Willets

Eddie Acuff Eddie Acuff …Ticket Agent

Chuck Baldra …Townsman

Ed Brady Ed Brady …Gambler

Fred Burns …Miner

Bob Card Bob Card …Townsman

Spade Cooley Spade Cooley …Musician

Victor Cox …Barfly

Art Dillard …Saloon Patron

Curley Dresden …Miner

Joel Friedkin …Gus

Chick Hannan Chick Hannan …Henchman

Lew Kelly …Miner

Jack Kirk Jack Kirk …Jack

Cactus Mack Cactus Mack …Henchman

Ted Mapes Ted Mapes …Miner

Leo J. McMahon …Barfly

Art Mix Art Mix …Henchman

Monte Montague Monte Montague …Joe

Jack Montgomery Jack Montgomery …Henchman

Post Park …Henchman

Edward Peil Sr. Edward Peil Sr. …Barfly

Pascale Perry …Hank

Trigger Trigger …Steve’s Horse

Henry Wills Henry Wills …Miner

Bob Woodward Bob Woodward …Henchman

Music by Milton Rosen

  • Musical director Cy Feuer
  • Title music by William Lava
  • Stock music by Joseph Nussbaum

Cinematography by Jack A. Marta

  • Supervising editor Murray Seldeen
  • Editing by Edward Mann

Production Manager Al Wilson

Stunts by Yakima Canutt, Art Dillard, Ted Mapes, Leo J. McMahon, Jack Montgomery,  Post Park, Henry Wills, Bob Woodward, Bill Yrigoyen, Joe Yrigoyen


Reviews:


Subtitles/Dubbed translations:

  • Brazilian Portugese: Legião da Fronteira
  • Greek: Tromokratai ton synoron/Τρομοκράται τον συνόρων
 
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Posted by on 2018-08-19 in Movies

 

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Video

The Arizona Raiders, 1936 film adaptation

The Arizona Raiders, 1936

Laramie Nelson (Buster Crabbe) falsely accused of horse-stealing, is about to be strung up by a posse when a sudden lurch of his horse knocks down his would-be executioners, and he makes his escape. He soon comes upon another hanging posse and saves “Honest” Tracks Williams (Raymond Hatton), accused of a long, long list of minor crimes, and the two ride off together. They come to a small Arizona town, and their first encounter is with attorney Monroe Adams (Grant Withers) and his client, Harriet Lindsay (Marsha Hunt), owner of the large, prosperous Spanish Peaks ranch. Harriet and Adams have come to town to stop the marriage of her young sister, Lenta (Betty Jane Rhodes), to shy young Alonzo “Lonesome” Mulhall (Johnny Downs). They are successful, and Alonzo is jailed, along with Tracks, following his attempt to shoot up the town. Tracks offers to arrange an elopement for Alonzo as soon as they are out of jail. Laramie gets them out of jail ahead of schedule by stampeding a herd of … Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Directed by James P. Hogan

Adapted from Zane Grey’s “Raiders of Spanish Peaks” by Robert Yost and John W. Krafft

Cast (in credits order)

Buster Crabbe Buster Crabbe Laramie Nelson (as Larry Crabbe)
Raymond Hatton Raymond Hatton Tracks Williams
Marsha Hunt Marsha Hunt Harriett Lindsay
Betty Jane Rhodes Betty Jane Rhodes Lenta Lindsay (as Jane Rhodes)
Johnny Downs Johnny Downs Lonesome Alonzo Q. Mulhall
Grant Withers Grant Withers Monroe Adams, Harriett’s lawyer
Don Rowan Henchman Luke Arledge
Arthur Aylesworth Arthur Aylesworth Andy Winthrop
Richard Carle Richard Carle Boswell Albernathy, Justice of the Peace
Petra Silva Tiny – the Maid
Ken Cooper Ken Cooper Lynch Mob Member
Augie Gomez Cowboy
Spike Spackman Cowboy
James P. Burtis Second Sheriff at Hanging (uncredited)
Bob Card Bob Card Deputy (uncredited)
Herbert Heywood First Sheriff at Hanging (uncredited)
Billy Lee Billy Lee Little Boy (uncredited)

Produced by A.M. Botsford and Daniel Keefe
Cinematography by Leo Tover
Film Editing by Chandler House
Art Direction by Hans Dreier and Robert Odell
Set Decoration by interior decorator A.E. Freudeman
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Harry Scott
Sound Department by sound recordists Charles Hisserich and Don Johnson
Stunts by Ken Cooper and Spike Spackman
Composed by Gerard Carbonara, Hugo Friedhofer, Sigmund Krumgold, John Leipold and Heinz Roemheld
Presenter Adolph Zukor

 
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Posted by on 2018-06-24 in Movies

 

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West of the Pecos; New York, The American Magazine, 1931

Illustrated by Frank Hoffman

West of the Pecos was first published as a 7-episode serial in The American Magazine from August of 1931 to February of 1932. In 1937 Harper & Brothers published the story as an action romance. The Zane Grey’s Western Magazine published West of the Pecos in 1947 and again in 1954. The main characters are Pecos Smith and Terrill (Rill) Lambeth with Sambo as supporting character. As usual, nature plays an important role displaying Pecos River, Horsehead Crossing and Langtry around 1865-1871 (ZGWS). A free copy is available in Roy Glashan‘s library.

“When Templeton Lambeth’s wife informed him that if God was good they might in due time expect the heir he had so passionately longed for, he grasped at this with the joy of a man whose fortunes were failing, and who believed that a son might revive his once cherished dream of a new and adventurous life on the wild Texas ranges west of the Pecos River.

That very momentous day he named the expected boy Terrill Lambeth, for a beloved brother. Their father had bequeathed to each a plantation; one in Louisiana, and the other in eastern Texas. Terrill had done well with his talents, while Templeton had failed.

The baby came and it was a girl. This disappointment was the second of Lambeth’s life, and the greater. Lambeth never reconciled himself to what he considered a scurvy trick of fate. He decided to regard the child as he would a son, and to bring her up accordingly. He never changed the name Terrill. And though he could not help loving Terrill as a daughter, he exulted in her tomboy tendencies and her apparently natural preferences for the rougher and more virile pleasures and occupations. Of these he took full advantage.”

Zane Grey was known for thorough research for his stories and appropriately portrayed characters according to each storyline’s class, gender and color. In West of the Pecos we find ourselves in Texas before and after the war between Southern and Northern states. Texas never experienced the major invasions that other Southern states did. Shortages of essentials like food, medication and paper was extensive because essentials went to the army. To support the war, new property-, poll-, income- and distilling taxes were imposed. Refugees started arriving and wounded men returned. Crime rose and sometimes these were answered with lynchings. Since most white men, like Lambeth, joined the army, women took over the running of most facets of life. Many cotton plantations were not as affected as other industries (TSLAC). However, the Lambeth women experienced hardship, and their slaves probably felt the increasing lack of ready income the most. When the war ended, Lambeth returned a widower with a fifteen year old daughter (Rill) to provide for and a plantation he no longer wants to run.

West of the Pecos is about gender differences, how Texans viewed African-Americans, crime as a consequence of the war, poverty and not giving up. It’s probably one of my favourite Zane Grey action romances. The action is excellent. As usual nature plays a vital part. The romance between Rill and Pecos ends in the usual manner. I believe in Rill’s character more than Pecos’. Both Rill and Pecos talk down to Sambo, but Pecos is probably Grey’s representative for the Southern view of African-Americans:

Pecos Smith had known negro slaves as worthy as any white man, though he had the Southerner’s contempt for most of the black trash.

Lambeth sold the plantation and tries to fulfill his dreams. “He had a vision and it could not be clouded.” All of the slaves are freed, but two of them get hired as vaquero (Sambo) and cook (Mauree) for the outfit. They have a wagon stuffed with provisions and several horses. Upon leaving eastern Texas, Lambeth insists that Rill take on the role as a boy and forget whatever she had learned about being a woman. This is a strategic move on Lambeth’s part. Not only that, but according to the laws of Texas Lambeth owned Rill so she had little say in what happened to her. He explained to Rill that given where they were going, being a boy and vaquero was safer than being a girl. That was truth.

West of the Pecos is divided into three parts. First we have the journey of the Lambeths from eastern Texas to West of the Pecos.You can follow the route Lambeth, Rill, Sambo and Mauree travel. First they go through Austin to San Antonio/Alamo (where Rill meets Pecos for the first time). After San Antonio they join a group of buffalo hunters and go northwest of Colorado River to kill buffalo. Rill, Sambo and Mauree have an exciting first buffalo experience:

…The streams of buffalo had closed in solid and were now scarcely a hundred yards from the wagons. The black and tawny beasts appeared to bob up and down in unison. Dust rolled up yellow and thick, obscuring farther view. Behind, the gap was filling up with a sea of lifting hoofs and shaggy heads. It was thrilling to Terrill, though her heart came up in her throat. The rumble had become a trampling roar. She saw that Sambo’s idea was to keep his big wagon behind Mauree’s smaller one, and try to run with the beasts, hoping they would continue to split behind it. But how long could the horses keep that gait up, even if they did not bolt and leave the wagons to be crushed? Terrill had heard of whole caravans being flattened out and trodden into the plain. Dixie’s ears were up, his eyes wild. But for Terrill’s presence right close, holding his bridle, he would have run away.

Soon Terrill became aware that the teams were no longer keeping up with the buffalo. That lumbering lope had increased to a gallop, and the space between the closing lines of buffalo had narrowed to half what it had been. Terrill saw with distended eyes those shaggy walls converging. There was no gap behind Sambo’s wagon—only a dense, gaining, hairy mass. Sambo’s eyes rolled till the whites stood out. He was yelling to his horses, but Terrill could not hear a word.

The trampling roar seemed engulfed in deafening thunder. The black bobbing sea of backs swallowed up the open ground till Terrill could have tossed her sombrero upon the shaggy humps. She saw no more flying legs and hoofs. When she realized that the increased pace, the change from a tame lope to a wild gallop, the hurtling of the blind horde, meant a stampede and that she and the two negroes were in the midst of it, she grew cold and sick with terror. They would be lost, smashed to a pulp. She shut her eyes to pray, but she could not keep them shut.

Next she discovered that Mauree’s team had bolted. The wagon kept abreast of the beasts. It swayed and jolted, almost throwing Terrill out. Dixie had to run to keep up. Sambo’s team came on grandly, tongues out, eyes like fire, still under control. Then Terrill saw the negro turn to shoot back at the charging buffalo. The red flame of the gun appeared to burst right in the faces of the maddened beasts. They thundered forward, apparently about to swarm over the wagon.

Clamped with horror, hanging on to the jolting wagon, Terrill saw the buffalo close in alongside the very wheels. A shroud of dust lifted, choking and half blinding her. Sambo blurred in her sight, though she saw the red spurt of his gun. She heard no more. Her eyes seemed stopped. She was an atom in a maelstrom. The stench of the beasts clogged her nostrils. A terrible sense of being carried along in a flood possessed her. The horses, the wagons, were keeping pace with the stampede. Dixie leaped frantically, sometimes narrowly missing the wagon. Just outside the wheels, rubbing them, swept huge, hairy, horned monsters that surely kept him running straight.

After a successful hunt, the Lambeths travelled to Maynardsville (Manard) by the San Saba River where Lambeth picks up Texas long-horns and two helpers. The crew continues via the southern edge of L’lano Estacado across the Staked Plains. They become lost and much of the cattle died of thirst. Fortunately, they stumbled upon the Flat Rock Water Holes. After that, they almost died again before they found Wild China Water Holes. Another near death experience almost happened. This time they were saved by Pecos Smith who took them to Horsehead Crossing. The entire journey took eight months, leaving the all four honed for the lives they were about to enter.

In the second part of West of the Pecos, Pecos Smith was the main character. He had

… flaxen hair and he wore it so long that it curled from under his sombrero. His face was like a bronze mask, except when he talked or smiled, and then it lightened. In profile it was sharply cut, cold as stone, singularly more handsome than the full face. His eyes assumed dominance over all other features, being a strange-flecked, pale gray, of exceeding power of penetration. His lips, in repose, were sternly chiseled, almost bitter, but as they were mostly open in gay, careless talk or flashing a smile over white teeth, this last feature was seldom noticed….He was an honest person.

Due to circumstances, Pecos ended up in the same area as Rill. We now enter the third part of West of the Pecos. After he saved fifteen year old (he thought) Rill, Pecos became Rill’s partner. Both wanted to get back at the people who had made their lives much more miserable. War messes people up. Especially on the side that “lost”. Grey has written a story that addresses the times and its prejudices and challenges. As usual, he brings nature to life with accurate descriptions. Yes. Pecos River country really was that harsh.


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Audiobook: Narrated by Eric G. Glove; Brilliance Audio, 2017
  • Afrikaans: Wes van die Pecos; Afrikaanse Pers-Boekhandel, 1956
  • Croatian: Zapadno od Pecosa; Translated by Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1961/1985
  • Czech: Na západ od Pekosu; Translated by Josef Vorel/Jan Hora; V Praze, Novina, 1938; Illustrated by Václav Kotrch 1938
  • Finnish: Texasin tyttö; WSOY, 1944
    • Pecos-joelta länteen; Taikajousi, 1982
  • German: Männer aus Texas; Translated by Franz Eckstein; Berlin: Knaur, 1938
  • Italian: A occidente del Pecos; Translated by Rossana De Michele; Milano, Sonzogno, 1969
  • Norwegian: Vest for Pecos; Translated by Paul Evan; Romanforlaget, 1962
  • Spanish: Al Oeste Del Pecos; Traducción, Luis Conde Vélez, Círculo de Lectores, 1966

Sources

 
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Posted by on 2018-02-18 in Books

 

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The Lost Wagon Train (1936)

Cover illustration by Harrison Fisher

The Lost Wagon Train came about because the Depression of the 1930’s forced Zane Grey to face that one cannot keep on spending money without having some to spend. Cosmopolitan Magazine published the serial “The Lost Wagon Train” in 4 episodes from July-October 1932. According to Joe Wheeler (foreword 2016 ed) The Lost Wagon Train is seen as a companion piece to Fighting Caravans. Not until 1936 did Harper & Brothers publish The Lost Wagon Train in book form. The story is now available to borrow on Internet Archive. Pages 12, 13 and 175, 176 were not properly scanned.

All authors have their own style of writing. Zane Grey was no exception. The Lost Wagon Train is typical of Zane Grey romances in many ways. Latch has failed at love and failed in the military. Grey has yet again used nature as a character. In addition, the story is written for the white middle-class of his day. However, it is a darker story than most of his others.

“Latch’s band of outlaws and savages hid in Spider Web Canyon awaiting the Kiowa scouts who were to fetch news of any caravans that were approaching.

It was a summer night in 1861. Spider Web Canyon lay up in the first range of mountains rising off the Great Plains. The rendezvous had been a secret hiding-place of Satana, a fierce and bloody chief of the Kiowas. He and Latch had formed a partnership – a strange relation growing out of an accidental joint attack upon a wagon train.” (p. 1)

Chief Set-t’ainte was known as Chief Satana/Satanta among the white population.

Chief Satana in The Lost Wagon Train must be based on Kiowa Chief Satanta, (Set-t’ainte/White Bear). Satanta was a Chief whose guerilla tactics challenged the US Army and slowed down the invasion of his people’s lands. It is easy to forget that the Civil War was a war within a war. In The Lost Wagon Train Satana sees Latch’s gang as a tool to ally with but also as traitors to their people.

Stephen Latch “looked to be around thirty 30 years old and was the son of a Louisiana plantation owner“. When the Confederacy failed to bestow on him a commission in the Confederate Army he duelled with the officer who

“forestalled him. With blood on his hands and with all the Rebel hatred for the North in his heart, he had set out to wage his own battle with the Northerners. From a guerilla warfare it had degenerated into border outlawry.”

To Latch the Kiowas were disposable tools. He would gladly sacrifice them in his impossible search for revenge for acts brought upon himself.

It seems obvious that the way I understand stories depends on how old I am. When I first encountered “Vogntoget som forsvant” (Norwegian translation) I must have been around 10-13 years old. Back then, I read the story as a story without any understanding of the time it was written, the time it was describing and how incredibly difficult it is to determine exactly what makes something “right and wrong/good and bad”. Determining that has become more and more difficult with time. At this point of my life, I find myself unable to do so on purely logical grounds.

Understanding the behaviour of the Kiowa warriors during the first part of The Lost Wagon Train is easy peasy. War consists of a series of gruesome actions. Agreeing to massacre the entire wagon train makes sense as a tactic in this horror. At the 1867 Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty, Satanta spoke: “… I came to say that the Kiowas and Commanches have made with you a peace. The word shall last until the whites break their contract and invite the horrors of war. …” And the whites did.

“This must be the notorious war-cry of Indians, Cynthia recognized in it the great vengeful cry of the tribe that had been deceived, wronged, robbed, murdered.” (p. 58)

In The Lost Wagon Train Satana, Hawk Eye and the Kiowa warriors are stereotypically portrayed and made so Grey’s intended readers would buy his stories. “Uggh!” certainly pops up a lot. They are supporting characters, nothing more.

Other than Stephen Latch, the only other character who comes to life is Corny/Slim Blue. Estelle is more like most of Grey’s female leads. Corny does not appear until the second part of the story. The first part of The Lost Wagon Train is mainly about the forming of Latch’s gang and their massacre of the Bowden wagon train at Tanner’s Swale on Dry Trail. The second part of the story is a sort of redemption story but also has the required romance of any Zane Grey romance story.

“Let go of that woman, Leighton”

Many people see Stephen Latch as an evil man. Would they feel the same if the story had been about the massacre of a Commanche village? Or the annihilation of a plantation in the South? I don’t see either Latch or what he did as particularly evil. Or, rather, no more evil than all the terrible things humans do in the name of a cause. He is an expert at rationalization, objectifying his targets and soothes his conscience enough to go through with what he planned. Latch is a man who wants to survive and does not want to starve while doing so. His time is a brutal one, propaganda is intense and his methods are in line with that time’s methods. So, maybe Latch is not that different from you or me. What Stephen Latch is, is a complex character. I do not particularly like him, but he is still a great character for this story. Nor did I like John Bowden, who was about to be massacred. I have met many John Bowden’s in my life. People who have power over others are definitely not exempt from stupidity. Often it seems as if the degree of their greed equals the degree of their stupidity. Bowden is completely unwilling to even consider the dangers he is putting his caravan in. All that matters is getting his stuff to Fort Union as fast as possible.

My favorite character, as usual, is nature. During the build-up to the battle, Grey uses nature to change the rhythm of the story, possibly to give the reader breathers.

“transforming the canyon from a dark, gray-fogged, stone-faced crack in the wilderness to a magnificent valley of silver and gold iridescence. The wisps of clouds lifted up as on wings of pearly fire, the white cascade tumbled out of a ragged notch in the black rim, to fall and pause and fall again, like fans of lace; …”  (p 19).

Against orders, one person survives the destruction of Bowden’s wagon train. To say that Latch gets the shock of his life, is an understatement.

“Christ. Am I mad? … Who are you?” cried Latch in a frenzy.

“Stephen! You-you! … Oh, that you should be the one to save me.”

She sank to her knees with nerveless hands.

“No! … It can’t be! Not you! That would be too – too horrible.”

“Yes, it is I, Cynthia,” she whispered.

Of course she finds out almost immediately that Latch is leader of the gang. Because he is a weak man, Latch blames his actions on her. And, because of the way women were/are supposed to be, Cynthia accepts that blame.
“In a word – Leader of Latch’s band… To this you have brought me.”
……

“I will welcome death at your hands. I have brought you to this degradation;”

Latch has two friends in the gang. Keetch and Lester Cornwall. Keetch loses his leg in one raid, and stays in Latch’s Field taking care of Cynthia and Latch’s business. Lester Cornwall stays at Latch’s side. Again and again Cornwall warns Latch about another gang-member, Leighton, and every stinking time Latch ignores the danger. In fact, Latch is the only one who does not see the danger Leighton poses. I know it is a necessary literary device for this story, but I just have to say that Latch drove me crazier with this gullibility. Well, actually Grey drove me crazier.

Grey writes historical romances, not historical novels. This is why people, events and places do not match the time of the story. But many of these people, events and places were real. When Latch speaks of the Maxwell Land Grant on Vermigo, he is speaking of a place that actually existed.

When the time came for the gang to dissolve, Latch did well by his people.

“We’re here first. This valley is mine. I bought it from Santana. It is wonderfully rich in grass, water, climate. Farms will prosper here. Game abounds. The hills are covered with timber …My proposition to you all, except Leighton, is this. I’ll start you all with a ranch and cattle – say five hundred head each. A fine start! Also five thousand dollars each! Bunch together with some Mexicans, and Keetch here to superintend, and throw up cabins corrals, barns. Build homes. Get yourselves wives, even if they have to be squaws. And live down the past.”

And that brings us to the second part of the story. On page 152 Grey brings us to a future time that has Corny/Slim Blue as a main character, Estelle Latch is another one, and, this time around, Stephen Latch as a supporting character to both their stories. It begins with Slim saving Estelle and that, of course, brings romance into The Lost Wagon Train. Romance fraught with complications, huge complications – the kind Zane Grey loves. Gigantic complications rooted in Stephen Latch’s past.

Again, we see Grey’s love of the landscape when he writes about Corny’s reaction to seeing Latch’s Field for the first time.

Like all the valleys in this region, Latch’s headed in a notch under the hills. Only this one was by far the most imposing and beautiful of the ones he had seen. Green squares attracted his speculative eyes, groves of cottonwoods and ridges with a line of walnut trees marched to the opposite wall, meadows like parks of golden grass shone against the sunset. (p. 181)

Because of the way meaning changes, some of Greys sentences made me smile. All stories from that era do that to me. “Making love” is not intercourse nor does “ejaculation” have anything to do with semen. “Gay” is happy etc.

Latch’s way of being able to live with what he had done, accepting but not condoning, seems like a sensible method. It reminds me of stories from Rwanda. No matter what his motives were, Latch completely changed his behaviour once the band was dissolved. Leighton is a great example of what might happen if a person get stuck in their past. Yet letting go is such a difficult thing to do. The Tutsi and Hutu certainly know all about that. Just look at the way many Germans still try to make up for something their grandparents did. I certainly struggle plenty with letting go of hurt.


The Lost Wagon Train is found on Internet Archive


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Audio: The Lost Wagon Train; Narrated by John McLain; Brilliance Audio, 2017
  • Czech: Zmizelá karavana; Translated by Josef Vorel; Illustration by Zdeněk Burian; V Praze, Novina, 1938
    • Illustration by Josef Ulč; V Brno, Novina, 1993
  • German: Die Todeskarawane; Translated by Franz Eckstein; Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf. 1937
    • Todes-Treck; Translated by E. Tabory; Bergisch Gladbach, Bastei-Verl, 1968
    • Der letzte Wagenzug; Translated by Alfred Dunkel; München, Wilhelm Heyne, 1973
  • Hungarian: Úri bandita és városi leány; Translated by Kosáryné Réz Lola; Budapest: Palladis, 1938
  • Italian: La carovana scomparsa; Translated by Nicoletta Coppini; Illustration by Guido Crepax; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968
  • Norwegian: Vogntoget som forsvant; Translated by Lars Berge; Oslo, Ingar Weyer Tveitan, 1961
  • Polish: Zaginiony tabor; Translated by Janina. Sujkowska; Illustrated by Lucjan Jagodziński; Warszawa: M. Arct, 1938
  • Portugese; A caravana perdida; Translated by Raul Correia; Illustration by Carlos Alberto Santos; Lisboa, Agencia Portuguesa de Revistas, 1961
  • Spanish; La caravana perdida; Translated by Luis Conde Vélez; Barcelona, Bruguera, 1950
    • Translated by Ramón Margalef Llambrich; Barcelona Molino, 1982
    • Argentina, Librostauro, 2010
  • Swedish: Vagntåget som försvann; Translated by J.E. Berg; Stockholm, Interdeal AB, 1964

Comics


Sources

 
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Posted by on 2017-07-28 in Books

 

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The Trail Driver: Zane Grey (1931)

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Translator: Hansheinz Werner

Zane Grey’s stories were mainly written to entertain. Entertainment was achieved through action- and romance-driven stories. For a story written in the early 1900’s, there was quite a bit of cussing and violence. Readers should be aware of changes in word-usage. Commonly used words back then are considered racist today. Views expressed in The Trail Driver romanticize cowboys and discriminate against women, Native-Americans and African-Americans. In most ways The Trail Driver is representative of the propaganda of its day (Wisniewski/Nakamura).

Comment by Zane Grey in 1936, Cant, C.C. (2008)

American tribes

Portion of US map compiled by Aaron Carapella detailing Americans in the US before Europeans invaded

By the time of the cattle-drives, most of the Plains Indian tribes had been decimated in the genocide of Native American (Jawort). The Comanche were too busy trying surviving the American Army to fight cattle drives for anything but survival (Miheshua, p. 14).

The Trail Driver enters the US at a turning-point of the cattle-drives (1871). It was first published as a serial in McCall’s Magazine, Oct. 1931—Feb. 1932 and later published as hard-cover by Harper & Bros in 1935. Friesen points out that Zane Grey got the crossing of the Chisholm Trail at Doan’s Store wrong. Other than that, Grey seems to have his facts straight. (VC Friesen, ch. 27).

Adam Brite is a Euro-American, middle-aged, single and childless man. He has just made a profit off a run on the Chisholm-trail and seeks to further that profit by a second run. This time he is overly optimistic in buying 4500 head of long-horns (ornery buggers) plus about 200 mustangs for his remuda.

“A 12-man crew could manage a herd of 2,000 to 3,000 head. The trail boss was the ultimate authority on the trail, like the captain of a ship, and was paid $100 to $125 a month. Of the rest of the crew, the cook was the most important, earning about $60 per month.” (Texas Almanac)

Adam’s role in the story is that of father-figure. He joins in the work and tries to not play favorites. In many ways Brite’s role is to point out to the reader what might be going on inside people’s heads: “that the Uvalde cowboy had been shot through the heart by something vastly different from a bullet.” Sometimes he pranks Joe or Reddie if the mood hits him. I guess Adam is a greedy, kind-hearted racist man who was somewhat aware of his own racism.

The foreman Adam got himself has an excellent reputation. Like any good owner, he lets Texas Joe Shipman handle the crew as Joe sees fit. Joe is “tall amber-eyed, tawny-haired young giant might well play havoc with the heart of any fancy-free girl“. Fortunately, he is much more than that. He has to keep the feisty crew in check. Like he says: “I reckon I gotta make myself disliked,” The person he struggles most with (in true Zane Grey romance style) is Reddie Blayne. Joe organizes defense and offense against cattle-rustlers (Russ Hite and gang) and deals with Commanches. His worst problems are the combination of weather and long-horn cattle. .

Joe brings his friend Less Holden along “No better ever forked a hawse. But Less is the wildest hombre.” We don’t see much of Less during the story. His character is one on the outskirts of the crew and its adventure. Less calls himself a “walking calendar” due to his ability to figure out what day it is. The explanation is quite mundane, but I do not want to be a spoil-sport.

Library of Congress

Photo by William Henry Jackson, 1843-1942

Alabama Moze is the cook. “It took no second glance for the boss to be assured that this cook was a treasure“. He brought his own stocked chuck-wagon. In addition to being the place where food is made, the cowhands sleep under it if it rains. Alabama’s job is tough. In addition to getting up hours before the drivers and wranglers, Alabama has to haul wood whenever it was available or use dried cow/buffalo-turds for his fire. At times the chuck-wagon has to be hauled across rivers that sometimes went wild. Alabama is African-American. Grey shows us how African-Americans were usually (Massey, SA) treated on cattle-runs, “... On the trail it was not usual for any rider to share the tasks of a negro. Manifestly Pan Handle Smith was a law unto himself…”. Being the cook, Alabama was probably treated better than regular African-American cow-hands. He is the only one of the crew whose fate we do not learn.

Pan Handle Smith is a gun-fighter and “might have rode up this Trail with Jesse Chisholm an been doin’ it ever since.” Giff MacShane told me that Pan is Pecos Smith in West of the Pecos. When Adam hires him, Smith is looking to get out of San Antonio. Gun-fighters weren’t bad guys/gals per se. “Pan Handle Smith had been outlawed, but he had really been more sinned against than sinning.” During the story, Smith calms tempers in both cattle and feisty teen-agers and supports Shipman as foreman.

The Uvalde quintet are “de finest an’ fightenest boys I ever seen,“. Their leader is Deuce Ackerman who “appeared to be the most forceful personality“, a quality needed to handle his friends. We see more of him than the other four. San Sabe comes a close second. San Sabe “had Indian or Mexican blood, and his lean shape wore the stamp of vaquero.” He has a lovely voice and it works wonders “That was the magic by which the trail drivers soothed the restless long-horns.” Rolly Little is “small and round. He had yellow hair, a freckled face, and flashing brown eyes, as sharp as daggers.” Ben Chandler is a “typical Texas youth, long, rangy, loose-jointed, of sandy complexion and hair, and eyes of clear, light blue“. His drinking problem gets him into serious trouble with Deuce, Joe and Adam. Roy Hallett is the last of the five. He is “a quiet, somber, negative youth“.

In addition, Adam is joined by Hal Bender, “the tenderfoot from Pennsylvania, appeared to be a hulking youth, good natured and friendly, though rather shy“, and Whittaker (no first name) was “a red-faced, sleepy-eyed, young rider of twenty-two, notable for his superb physique“. Finally, at Pecan Swale, their first stop, their last addition in the form of Reddie Bayne arrives: “Before the rider stopped Brite answered to a presagement not at all rare in him—that there were meetings and meetings along the trail. This one was an event.” Brite is correct in his presentiment. No Reddie, no The Trail Driver.

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Artist: Edward Rapier, July 27, 1878

Shortly after the arrival of Reddie, Grey reveals that Bayne is a girl. While not common, women on the trail were a known phenomenon. They chose this tough life for many reasons. “An’ I got the idee pretendin’ to be a boy would make it easier. Thet helped a lot. But I’d always get found oot.” Turns out the last boss who found her out wants her back. Wallen, a rancher from Braseda, is a nasty guy. He rides into the camp at Pecan Swale demanding Reddie: “… I want this rider, Reddie Bayne. He come to me in a deal I made with Jones at Braseda.” At this point the crew learns that Reddie is a girl. Adam has known it for some time.

Wallen is joined by Ross Hite. Ross is a cattle- and mustang-rustler. “Humph! Mebbe Hite is at the haid of this new game,” declared the boss, seriously. “Cattle-drivers sometimes lose half their stock from stampeders. I’ve heahed of one whole herd bein’ stole.” To add to the tension of the story, Grey throws in Comanche raiders.

The Indian mustangs were haltered to the saplings at the edge of the glade. What a ragged, wild-eyed bunch! They had nothing but halters. These they strained against at every rifle-shot. And more than a few of them faced the covert where the drivers lay in ambush. They had caught a scent of the whites. Heads were pointed, ears high, nostrils quivering.

Even the weather conspires to make life miserable for the drivers. In real life, the weather and ornery nature of the long-horns were enough of a challenge on most drives.

The night fell dark, with rumble of thunder and sheet lightning in the distance. The tired cattle bedded down early and held well all night. Morning came lowering and threatening, with a chill wind that swept over the herd from the north. Soon the light failed until day was almost as dark as night. A terrific hailstorm burst upon the luckless herd and drivers. The hailstones grew larger as the storm swept on, until the pellets of gray ice were as large as walnuts. The drivers from suffering a severe pounding passed to extreme risk of their lives. They had been forced to protect heads and faces with whatever was available. Reddie Bayne was knocked off her horse and carried senseless to the wagon; San Sabe swayed in his saddle like a drunken man; Texas Joe tied his coat round his sombrero and yelled when the big hailstones bounced off his head; bloody and bruised, the other drivers resembled men who had engaged in fierce fistic encounters.

I still enjoy Zane Grey’s stories, but keep on wondering how I would read them if I was Native American or African American. Whenever gender bias comes up, I’m jarred out of the flow. That is most likely a good thing and might well have to do with my sense of fairness evolving. Reading stories that were written almost 100 years ago, is always a strange experience. Noting that many stories today are still as problematic is kind of depressing.

During its heyday, between 1867 and 1884, some five million cattle and an equal number of mustangs were moved along the trail. 


The Trail Driver is available for free at Faded Page and Roy Glashan’s Library


Reviews:


Translations:

  • Croatian: Gonič stada; Translator: Omer Lakomica; Rijeka, Otokar Keršovani, 1966
  • Czech: Jezdci z pastvin; Translator:  Jaroslava  Vojtěchová; Praha: Olympia (to 1992), 1965
  • Finnish: Aavikon ratsastaja; Translator: Werner Anttila; Porvoo, Helsinki, W. Söderström, 1939
  • German: In der Prärie; Translator: Dr. Franz Eckstein, Berlin, Th. Knaur Nachf, 193
    • Sie kämpften sich durch; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: F. Schneider, 1969
    • In der Prärie; Translator: Hansheinz Werner; München: Heyne, 1981
  • Hungarian: A vöröshajú leány; Translator: Ruzitska Mária; Budapest, Palladis, 1937
  • Italian: La lunga pista; Translator: Simonetta Damiani; Milano, Sonzogno, 1968 (Cover artist: Guido Crepax)
  • Norwegian: Texas Joe; Translator: Claes Henrik Jaeger; Oslo, Ingar Weyar Tveitan, 1958
    • Chisholm-ruten; Translator: Claes Henrik Jaeger; Oslo, Fredhøi, 1982
  • Portugese: O guia da montanha; Translator: Fernanda Pinto Rodrigues; Lisboa: Ag. Port. de Revistas, 1959
  • Spanish: El conductor de manadas; Translator: Lino Novás Calvo / José Luis Fernández; Barcelona, Juventud, 1937

Sources

 

 
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Posted by on 2016-06-08 in Books

 

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Film adaptations of “The Border Legion”: 1918, 1924, 1930, 1934

The Border Legion: my book review

1918: The Border Legion (Silent movie in black and white)

Produced by Goldwyn Pictures Productions

Directed by T. Hayes Hunter

  • Assistant director Claude Camp

Adapted by Victor de Viliers and Lawrence Marston

Cast (in credits order)

Blanche Bates Blanche Bates …Joan Randall; Hobart Bosworth Hobart Bosworth …Jack Kells; Eugene Strong …Jim Cleve; Kewpie Morgan Kewpie Morgan …Gorilla Gulden; Russell Simpson Russell Simpson …Overland Bradley; Arthur Morrison Arthur Morrison …Sheriff Roberts; Bull Montana Bull Montana …Red Pierce; Richard Souzade …Bate Wood; Kate Elmore …Mrs. Wood

Cinematography by Abe Scholtz

Film Editing by Alex Troffey

Reviews:

1924: The Border Legion (Silent movie in black-and-white)

Produced by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation

Directed by William K. Howard

Adapted for screen by George C. Hull

Cast (in credits order)

Antonio Moreno Antonio Moreno …Jim Cleve; Helene Chadwick Helene Chadwick …Joan Randle; Rockliffe Fellowes Rockliffe Fellowes …Kells; Gibson Gowland Gibson Gowland …Gulden; Charles Ogle Charles Ogle …Harvey Roberts; Jim Corey Jim/James Corey …Pearce; Eddie Gribbon Eddie/Edward Gribbon …Blicky; Luke Cosgrave Luke Cosgrave …Bill Randle

Cinematography by Alvin Wyckoff

Presented by Jesse L. Lasky and Adolph Zukor

  • French: Les loups de la frontière
  • Portugese: Os Dramas do Oeste

Reviews:

1930: Border Legion (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

Produced by Paramount Publix Corporation
Directed by Otto Brower and Edwin H. Knopf
Adapted for film by Percy Heath and Edward E. Paramore Jr.
Cast (in credits order)

Jack HoltJack Holt…Jack Kells; Fay WrayFay Wray…Joan Randall; Richard ArlenRichard Arlen…Jim Cleve; Eugene PalletteEugene Pallette…Bunco Davis;Stanley FieldsStanley Fields…Hack Gulden; E.H. CalvertE.H. Calvert…Judge Savin; Ethan Allen…George Randall; Syd SaylorSyd Saylor…Shrimp; Hank BellHank Bell…Kells Gang Member; Jim CoreyJim Corey…Kells Gang Member; Pat HarmonPat Harmon.

Music by Oscar Potoker
Cinematography by Mack Stengler
Film Editing by Doris Drought
Casting By Fred A. Datig
Sound by Earl S. Hayman
Camera by Eddie New
Casting assistant Dick Stockton
Subtitles/dubbed to:

  • Austrian: Goldgräber in Not
  • Brazilian Portugese: A Legião dos Celerados
  • Greek: Legeon ton synoron

1934: The Last Round-Up (Mono sound in black-and-white format)

Produced by Paramount Pictures

  • Producer Harold Hurley

Directed by Henry Hathaway

  • Assistant director Neil Wheeler

Adapted for film by Jack Cunningham

Cast

Randolph ScottRandolph Scott…Jim Cleve; Barbara FritchieBarbara (Adams) Fritchie…Joan Randall; Monte BlueMonte Blue…Jack Kells; Fred KohlerFred Kohler…Sam Gulden; Fuzzy KnightFuzzy Knight…Charles Bunko McGee; Richard CarleRichard Carle…Judge Savin; Barton MacLaneBarton MacLane…Charley Benson; Charles MiddletonCharles B. Middleton…Sheriff; Frank RiceFrank Rice…Shrimp; Dick Rush…Rush; Buck ConnorsBuck Connors…Old Man Tracy; Robert (Bob) Miles…Scarface; Sam AllenSam Allen…First Miner; Ben CorbettBen Corbett…Second Miner; Jack (Merrill) Holmes…Bartender; Jim CoreyJim Corey…First Outlaw; Jim MasonJim (James) Mason…Second Outlaw; Charles BrinleyCharles Brinley…Rancher; Charles Murphy…Rancher; Bud OsborneBud Osborne…(uncredited)

Music by Herman Hand

Cinematography by Archie Stout

Sub-titles/dubbed to:

  • Austrian: Todeslegion
  • Brazilian Portugese: O Último Assalto
  • Danish: De Lovløses Brigade
  • Spanish: El último rodeo

Reviews:

  • Mordaunt Hall (New York Times): “… Jim Cleve, a handsome fellow who does not seem to be long on brains …”
 
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Posted by on 2015-05-25 in Movies

 

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