Wednesday, May 17, 2017

a short drink at the Gem Saloon

THE GUNFIGHTER (1950; d: Henry King)

Sometimes a man just wants to get in out of the cold, let his horse stand still, and forget his troubles. Sometimes he has no need for a name or reputation.

It's been a long, hard ride, and this old hand wants to sit down for a spell, maybe tip a glass or two, and not think too much about anything but whatever good may lie ahead. Let my horse drink slowly and close his weary eyes some, and dream of Cayenne, only a few hours of sandy valley ahead now.

Just a little ways longer, ol' boy.   

Ah, the Gem Saloon—Cayenne's so close I can taste it.  Just a couple hours rest and we'll set out on the last leg...

“Hiya, Jimmy!”

“Hi, old-timer.”

Well, so much for anonymity.

“Give me a drink.”


“Just gimme the drink, would ya?”

“You bet your life, Jimmy.”

Can't anyone just let a guy buy a drink anymore without making a fuss?

“Do you know who that is?”


“Jimmy Ringo.”

“Well...What do ya know.”

Great...another loudmouth. And just when things were getting cozy.

“Nice to see you again, Jimmy.”


“He don't look so tough to me.”

“Well, if he ain't so tough there's been an awful lot of sudden natural deaths in his vicinity.”

“How many you figure?”

“Ten, twelve, fifteen, depends on who's tellin'.”

“I bet he ain't as fast as Wyatt Earp.”

“In Dodge City, they say he is.”

“Just two hands, like anybody else.”

“Yeah, same number, it looks like,, wait a minute, Eddie, ya ain't thinking of doing nothing foolish, are ya?”

“You mean he's so tough I can't even talk to him?”

“I mean this ain't no joke, boy. That's a mean man.”

“I just want to see how a big, important fella like that handles himself. That's all. What's wrong with that?”

“I'm tellin' ya. I wouldn't do it if I were you.”

“Chuck, how about a little service down here? That's if Mr. Frazzlebottom don't object.”

“Eddie, don't you know who this is?”

“You mean it ain't Mr. Frazzlebottom?”

“He's Jimmy Ringo, Eddie.”

“It looks like Mr. Frazzlebottom to me.”

And this is the price I'll always pay for the path I've chosen. Once a gunman gains fame, he'll never again find peace.

Chuck, nervously: “You ever heard anybody kid like him?”

“How about a drink, Mr. Frazzlebottom?”

“No thanks.”

Let it go, boy.

“How's that, Mr. Frazzlebottom?”

“Eddie, please...”

“Please, what?  I asked the man to have a drink with me, what's wrong with that? How about it Mr. Frazzlebottom?”

Boy, this one's impossible.

“Okay, partner.”

“I knew Mr. Frazzlebottom wasn't going to pass up a free one.”

“Don't you understand, Eddie, this is Jimmy Ringo...

“Alright, so it's Jimmy Ringo. So what's everybody supposed to do, fall on their knees?”

“Well, you could be a little polite, at least.”

“Mr. Ringo. Chuck figures you got a little extra consideration coming to you around here, is that right?”


“How's that, Mr. Ringo? You'll have to speak up if you want me to hear ya.”

“Why don't you button up your britches and go home?”

“How'd you like to try to make me, Mr. Ringo?”

“Now listen, partner. I come in here minding my own business. Now how about lettin' me go out the same way?”

“I want to know first what you meant by that remark you just passed.”

“I tell you just bought me a drink. Now I'll buy you one and then we'll drop. What do you say? Give him a drink from me.”

“Never mind the drink! I want to know what you meant by that remark you passed.”

“How come I gotta run into a squirt like you in every other place I go these days? What are you trying to do, show off in front of your friends?”

“Are you ready to back up that remark or not?”

“What about this—ain't some of you in charge of this donkey?!”

“I'm telling you, Mr. Ringo!”

“Eddie don't mean no real harm, Mr. Ringo.”

“Then let Eddie keep his big ugly nose out of my business if he don't wanna get it slapped!”

“Did you see that?”

“Yes sir, he drew first.”

“Did you see it?”

“Yeah, I saw it.”

“Yes sir, I saw it...except, I'd get on out of town anyways if I were you.”

And Jimmy Ringo's legend continues to grow, whether it suits him or not.

“Because, he's got three brothers that ain't gonna care who drew first.”

“Alright...everybody stay where you are.”

And as they waste their booze and breath on prayers for that hapless donkey, who'll bend a knee for this run-down, thirsty nag?


  1. Skip Homeier always up to no good...always causing trouble...just like he did for don knotts in the ghost and mr. chicken!

  2. from 1950:

  3. Review by Bosley Crowther, no less! And he gets it right--The Gunfighter was and is a great western.

    Skip Homeier is especially rotten in this one! Thanks John!