Black Hat Jack
The story of African-Americans in the West has been confined to the dusty, bottom shelf of recorded history and American literature. But in the vein of the old dime novels containing stories about such heroes as Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and Jesse James, comes the true story of one of those ten-cent novel heroes, Deadwood Dick, disguised in those novels as a white champion of justice and adventure, but in reality a black cowboy, buffalo soldier, Indian fighter, and general hell raiser.
Here, Nat Love, the one and only Deadwood Dick, writes down his version of certain events, straightening out numerous misconceptions raised in the popular and sanitized dime novels. Though his version varies considerably from the numerous volumes of adventures attributed to him, his true story, with perhaps a bit of exaggeration, is no less fascinating or exciting.
Nat was one of those Old West characters who seemed to be everywhere and met everyone that was anyone at some point in his life. ''Black Hat Jack'' details Nat's version of the events of the now famous Second Battle of Adobe Walls, where he and a handful of buffalo hunters, primarily his good friend, Black Hat Jack, were pitted against hundreds of Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa warriors.
Heroics abound. Curse words fly. Humor flows as free as blood, and there's even a spot of romance. And with all that real life bravado, there might even be a few lies.
Joe R. Lansdale's stories about Nat Love are based loosely on the real Nat Love, who may have told a few windies about his time in the West, but at the same time revealed that African-Americans of that era were not all cooks and custodians. In fact, a full third of the cowboys of the Wild West days were African-American, Hispanic, or of mixed blood. This is a tribute to the real deal, as well as to the great mythology of the Old West.
The Searchers VHS
A favorite film of some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, John Ford's The Searchers has earned its place in the legacy of great American films for a variety of reasons. Perhaps most notably, it's the definitive role for John Wayne as an icon of the classic Western--the hero (or antihero) who must stand alone according to the unwritten code of the West. The story takes place in Texas in 1868; Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Confederate veteran who visits his brother and sister-in-law at their ranch and is horrified when they are killed by marauding Comanches. Ethan's search for a surviving niece (played by young Natalie Wood) becomes an all-consuming obsession. With the help of a family friend (Jeffrey Hunter) who is himself part Cherokee, Ethan hits the trail on a five-year quest for revenge. At the peak of his masterful talent, director Ford crafts this classic tale as an embittered examination of racism and blind hatred, provoking Wayne to give one of the best performances of his career. As with many of Ford's classic Westerns, The Searchers must contend with revisionism in its stereotypical treatment of "savage" Native Americans, and the film's visual beauty (the final shot is one of the great images in all of Western culture) is compromised by some uneven performances and stilted dialogue. Still, this is undeniably one of the greatest Westerns ever made. --Jeff Shannon
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