Winchester ’73 (Anthony Mann, 1950)

When he was a little, little kid, maybe 6 or 7 years old, all my grandpa wanted was a Tom Mix gun, and sure enough some cereal or something was letting kids send in boxtops, and once you collected enough boxtops and sent ’em in they’d send you the Tom Mix gun. For weeks – hell, MONTHS – my grandpa made it his life’s mission to collect as many boxtops as he could, and finally, FINALLY, he collected enough and sent ’em in. For 6 to 8 weeks after that, he remained ever-vigilant at his mailbox waiting and waiting and waiting for that Tom Mix gun, and it still hadn’t come. One morning, his mom, my great-grandma, had enough and basically ordered him to go to school. However, as he was leaving, the mailman came, and sure enough, SURE ENOUGH, there it was – the Tom Mix gun. But, mom still ordered him to go to school, but assured him that his precious gun would be there waiting for him when he came home. Dismayed, but happy that it came, he complied. Hours later, he basically ran home as fast as he could to play with that Tom Mix gun, the thought of that gun racing through his head as his feet raced home. He finally gets home, opens the door, and…

his baby brother, my uncle Jimmy, had gotten his grubby little hands on it and had broken it in half, beyond repair. All that time, all that work, and the Tom Mix gun was now just dust in the wind.

Why do I tell this story, despite it having nothing to do with Winchester ’73 and that it sounds exactly like A Christmas Story, except that it was a Tom Mix gun instead of an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle, and baby Jimmy broke it instead of little Ralphie shooting his eye out? I dunno, I guess I’m just trying to comprehend how an inanimate object like a gun, whether toy or otherwise, can be so important that both a little boy and grown cowboys would go to the ends of the earth, devote every ounce of their time and strength, and risk life and limb for it

Or the Winchester was just a MacGuffin to catalyze the eventual showdown between Jimmy Stewart and Stephen McNally, in which case my retelling that whole Tom Mix story was a waste of time. My bad

Anyway, yeah, the Winchester pretty much is just a MacGuffin for that showdown (you can see the ‘plot twist’, the true nature of Stewart and McNally’s relationship, a million miles away, but it’s still poignant and a nice development once it is revealed), albeit a MacGuffin with very, very phallic implications, and ever since taking Lit Theory in college I’m all about phallic symbols and works of fiction subtly dealing with gender symbols and gender roles .  In other words, this was cool. It started off amazingly, with the awesome, awesome shooting contest as the camera glides down the line of contestants, and of course the awesome outcome of that contest (cannot believe that shit with the postage stamp was real, but lo and behold IMDB tells me it’s real, so  ), which segues into a cool parallel story structure. Unfortunately I started to get bored and lose interest at a certain point, but overall this was still a highly entertaining whole. And Shelley Winters was actually attractive! Who knew she was actually attractive at a certain phase in her life?!

**SPOILER?**

…After writing all that, I finally realize how much art imitated life and how the story of my grandpa and uncle jimmy mirrors the brothers’ tale in “Winchester ’73” to a T. I feel a special kinship with this movie now. Maybe I should give it a bigger score ‘cuz of that. Nah, fuck it.

 

**END SPOILER?**

 

8/10

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3 comments so far

  1. REIT on

    Hey, great blog…but I don’t understand how to add your site in my rss reader. Can you Help me, please 🙂 🙂

  2. BloggerDude on

    I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….

  3. Faisal J. on

    Reblogged this on That Dark Alley.


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