-The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
One of the great lines in cinema and I couldn't help thinking of it as I read an article from the July 1949 issue of Zane Grey's Western Magazine. "The Hickok Legend" by Carl Smith touches on Georg Ward Nichols who had a similar line of thinking. Nichols, along with J.W. Buel, did more to contribute to building the Wild Bill legend--besides the source himself--than just about anybody else.
Though Nichols found it difficult to believe some of the stories, he tells us, when he came face to face with this superman of the frontier he "remembered the story in the Bible, where we are told that Samson 'with the jawbone of an ass slew a thousand men,' and as I looked upon this magnificent example of human strength and daring, he appeared to me to realize the powers of a Samson and Hercules combined, and I should not have been inclined to place any limits upon his achievements."Have we progressed beyond telling tall-tales? Hardly.
I've just discovered Ron Scheer's marvelous Buddies in the Saddle blog where he reviewed the 1995 Jeff Bridge's film WILD BILL. Like me, though he appreciated Mr. Bridges's acting and the opening of the film, the numerous historical inaccuracies once Hickok reaches Deadwood--his Waterloo--do the film in.
It proves to me that one hundred thirty-four years after James Butler Hickok's passing we are still printing the legend and always will because that's what folks have come to expect, isn't it?