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Where are the scars?  

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Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

I recently watched the very fine Sam Peckinpah show The Westerner and the penultimate episode, Hand on the Gun, made me realize something about The Rifleman. In Hand on the Gun, Brian Keith's character, Dave Blassingame, hires a young man, Cal Davis, who comes from back east and has totally romanticized the west. This youngster is very very good with a gun. He appeared in Rifleman in Faces of Yesterday as the young man whose father Luke killed in the war and he showed off his quick draw skills there. He demonstrated that skill as well as his gun-twirling prowess in Westerner. Dave keeps trying to get him to understand guns are not toys. He has his partner Oresquote (played by Michael Ansara, who was Sam Buckheart on Rifleman) pull up his shirt and show where he was shot. Oresquote has some pretty bad scars and says how he was laid up for eight months and some people thought he would never walk again.

It got me to thinking how many times Luke was shot, and how often we see him without a shirt, and he never has a single scar anywhere. Rifleman was very good about trying to provide moral content against violence. I believe Luke was essentially a non-violent man who was obliged to be violent by the time and the place that he lived in. I think he would have been very happy to never use his gun for anything but filling up the larder. He didn't have that option, but he was always trying to teach Mark that there was never anything to be proud of in killing a man. Luke also tried to avoid violent situations if he could, and as we saw in Day of the Hunter, he had no problem being called a coward if it meant he could stay out of a gunfight. Luke didn't let Mark have a gun of his own for years and years; and there was the episode Gun Shy, which was practically a public service announcement against guns. There was a lot of messaging against violence.

However, there were no scars. Sam Peckinpah is often accused of being a filmmaker who exploited violence. I've seen a Peckinpah movie or two, like The Deadly Companions, and of course he was the creative genius behind the beginning of Rifleman. I don't know about his entire body of work, but it seems to me that Hand on the Gun made a stronger statement against violence in those few minutes, showing those bad scars, than the entirety of Rifleman. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that. When all is said and done, Luke had no scars, physical or emotional, from getting shot so many times. The only time he ever even mentions anything was in Miss Milly, when he was yelling at the two scallywags she hired and he asked them if they had ever been shot. Aside from that, the wounds inflicted by guns are glossed over. Luke might be in bad shape one episode, and by the next episode he's as spry as ever. He never so much as has a twinge from all those old wounds. The violence and the injuries Luke has suffered don't seem to have any kind of real effect on him. In short, I hadn't thought about it before seeing Hand on the Gun but after seeing that episode of Westerner, it seems to me that in a way, the violence was downplayed; partly because Chuck was too pretty to put scars on and partly because they wanted to keep the violence short and have a moral lesson about it. Now I think about it, I think maybe the moral lesson would have been stronger if there had indeed been one or two scars and maybe some lingering effects. Violence leaves lasting marks and maybe that should have been shown to really get the point across.

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Posted : 14/09/2020 9:44 pm
lilyrose
(@lilyrose)
Honorable Member

Hmmm... You're right, Zanza! Where was the scars?

With a smile on my face, I wake up to a brand new day.

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Posted : 15/09/2020 10:02 am
Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

It's kind of weird now that I think about it.

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Posted : 15/09/2020 10:34 am
lilyrose
(@lilyrose)
Honorable Member

Yeah, guess that's a flaw... maybe someone from Star Trek gave Lucas equipment to heal all the scars away?

With a smile on my face, I wake up to a brand new day.

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Posted : 16/09/2020 8:21 am
Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

:laughingcowboy:

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Posted : 16/09/2020 10:41 am
Dana2020
(@dana2020)
Reputable Member Alumni

There is something almost mythical about Lucas's body-mind out of the gutter, ladies! Lucas is the Achilles of the West! Credit where it is due to WildWest: she suggested long ago that Lucas will die by pricking his finger on a marigold thorn.

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Posted : 23/09/2020 9:46 pm
lilyrose
(@lilyrose)
Honorable Member

Oh, wow!
Or maybe... Lucas is an ancestor of Superman!!!

With a smile on my face, I wake up to a brand new day.

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Posted : 24/09/2020 10:31 am
Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

It is rather silly. They make a great fuss of realism and trying to show things in the west the way they really were and then they parade Luke around with absolutely no consequences from all the wounds he's suffered. When one considers the vast concern that was constantly on display about violence on television at this time in our history, it seems rather odd that violence was consistently shown to have no lasting effects, either physical or emotional, on people.

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Posted : 24/09/2020 11:22 am
lilyrose
(@lilyrose)
Honorable Member

Yeah, I agree Zanza! That is silly. 😉

With a smile on my face, I wake up to a brand new day.

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Posted : 24/09/2020 12:27 pm
Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

:happycowboy:

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Posted : 24/09/2020 12:54 pm
Dana2020
(@dana2020)
Reputable Member Alumni

Maybe, the producers did not budget that much for make-up or house keys. My guess would be the money went to glasses in the saloon, jeans, and cigars.

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Posted : 26/09/2020 1:50 pm
Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

I doubt it was a budget matter. They just chose not to show the consequences of violence, which seems somewhat dishonest considering how they fussed about trying to show that violence was a bad thing.

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Posted : 26/09/2020 3:25 pm
Dana2020
(@dana2020)
Reputable Member Alumni

Zanza, I was being facetious-again. Sorry. On a more serious note, I could be wrong on this, but I think The Rifleman "pioneered" the "big reveal". We know Margaret died, but I don't think we know until Ann Dodd visits that Margaret died a of a "sickness." For all we know before then, she could have died in an accident or childbirth. The original audience did not know she died of smallpox until Lou's ladies arrived. Anyway, when Mark freaked out at Frank Blandin and Will Temple, it seems it would have been appropriate for Lucas to ask Mark how he would have felt if someone had run away from or shunned Margaret.

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Posted : 26/09/2020 6:10 pm
Zanza
(@zanza)
Honorable Member

Zanza, I was being facetious-again. Sorry. On a more serious note, I could be wrong on this, but I think The Rifleman "pioneered" the "big reveal". We know Margaret died, but I don't think we know until Ann Dodd visits that Margaret died a of a "sickness." For all we know before then, she could have died in an accident or childbirth. The original audience did not know she died of smallpox until Lou's ladies arrived. Anyway, when Mark freaked out at Frank Blandin and Will Temple, it seems it would have been appropriate for Lucas to ask Mark how he would have felt if someone had run away from or shunned Margaret.
Whoa, that is a sobering thought, Dana2020! Smallpox does scar a person's face dreadfully. I can see Mark getting in fights constantly over his mother's face. And that would have been a really amazing scene. Do you think you could write something for us? You have written some funny stuff, would you like to tackle a serious scene between Mark and Luke on that topic? It would be most interesting to see what Mark would say if Luke were to maybe show him a picture of someone who recovered from smallpox.

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Posted : 26/09/2020 6:52 pm
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