“Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” —Matthew 26:52
I oppose any federal law that restricts the sale of firearms.
To be clear, though, that is only because I respect the Bill of Rights.
You’ll never catch me buying a gun. Owning a gun plainly makes you less safe.
It isn’t wildly uncommon for my family members to be angry with me every once in a while. Heck, sometimes I even get angry at myself. It is preferable during these times to have no weapons around.
In public, an unarmed man with a guileless smile will go his whole life without getting into an altercation. An armed man is apt to be more cocksure and eager for trouble. And brandishing a gun puts a target on his back.
“Winchester ‘73” is the tale of a great rifle; a rifle that leaves a trail of dead owners in its wake.
Jimmy Stewart stars as Lin McAdam. He used to be a cowboy; now he’s a manhunter. Whatever meaning he used to have in his life has been replaced by a tireless obsession with tracking down the man who killed his father.
After Lin’s Winchester ’73 gets stolen, he now has two obsessions: vengeance and reuniting with the coveted weapon.
Director Anthony Mann unexpectedly turns our attention away from Jimmy Stewart and towards whoever possesses the rifle at that moment. Everybody wants the Winchester, but it perverts the mind of whoever is holding it, putting them in terrible peril. “Winchester ‘73” is like “Lord of the Rings,” except twice as intelligent and half as long.
Rock Hudson makes the women (and men) of the audience swoon as a forceful Indian warrior named Young Bull. He kills a trader to get his hands on the Winchester. Once he has the rifle, however, Young Bull is so overconfident that he leads his men on a suicidal raid on a Cavalry position.
“Winchester ‘73” goes from great to legendary when Waco Johnny Dean (Dan Duryea) enters the fray. Up until this point, every character has been a person capable of killing. Waco Johnny Dean is a true villain, and he loves every minute of it.
When he first lays eyes on the rifle, he knows he has to have it. And he has a sick plan. Waco immediately begins belittling and emasculating the current owner. Inevitably, the ashamed gun owner draws on Waco to try to save his dignity. Waco is ready, shoots him, and takes the rifle out of his cold, dead hands.
I don’t know if anyone under 70 knows Dan Duryea anymore. But he was the greatest villain of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
He wasn’t tough-looking, he wasn’t buff, and he didn’t have a deep voice. But Duryea understood human darkness better than most. Bad people aren’t like Dr. Evil; they are like you and me, except more selfish. Instead of loving their neighbor as themselves, Dan Duryea’s characters see their neighbors as tools to manipulate in order to get what they want.
“Winchester ‘73” is an entertaining and sophisticated western. It is fun and action-packed on the surface, and a film-noir underneath. At its heart it’s a timeless lesson about weapons: brandishing a gun does not make you safe; it puts a target on your back.