Gut Rumbles

October 01, 2004


I love westerns. I loved John Wayne in every movie I ever saw him in when he wore a cowboy hat. I STILL think Matt Dillon was the best got-dam marshal I ever saw on television. He didn't take any shit on the streets of Dodge City. (James Arness was ALSO the only person I ever saw tower over John Wayne when they were together on stage.) Richard Boone as Paladin was one spooky mo-fo. Even Steve McQueen did his bit as a bad-ass in Wanted: Dead or Alive. Yeah, Josh Randall was a dangerous man.

But some of my favorite actors in western movies and TV shows are the guys who played the villians and creeps. It takes TALENT to play a real scuzz-bucket and make people WANT to hate you. Here are my Top Ten:

#1-- Eli Wallach as "Tuco" in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

#2-- Bruce Dern-- in just about every western ever made. Did he have a natural shit-ass grin, or what?

#3-- Albert Salmi-- he's dead now, but I still remember his great line from the movie Something Big when he was asked, "Aren't we gonna bury him?" He spat a stream of tobacco juice and replied, "Naw. Somethin' will come out of the hills tonight and drag him off."

#4-- Jeremy Slate-- I'll bet I've seen him die a hundred times. He's good at it.

#5-- L.Q. Jones-- He plays an EXCELLENT rat-bastard.

#6-- Dennis Hopper--- yeah, he chewed the scenery in a few westerns.

#7-- Robert Duvall-- okay, he's a star and an Academy Award winner now, but he should have gotten that recognition when he played Lucky Ned Pepper in True Grit. "Rooster, you got ten minutes. If I don't see you heading over that ridge, I'll kill the girl. You KNOW I'll do it!"

#8-- Strother Martin-- he's dead now, too, but he played some really good characters.

(UPDATE: Yeah. "What we've got here is a FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE!")

#9-- Dub Taylor-- another dead one, but he was damned good.

#10-- Slim Pickens-- he's dead now, but he once was a rodeo star before he got into acting. He could be a colorful character or a real shitass. His lasting claim to fame probably is Dr. Strangelove, but I liked him in westerns.

I left Jack Elam off the list because I ran out of room.


Damn, you bring back memories!

Paladin had the calling card with the black
Knight (the chess piece) on it, which I just
thought was the fucking coolest thing in
the world. "Have gun, will travel." THAT was
cool as shit.

What about "Branded"? Wasn't that Chuck
Conner before he became "The Rifleman"?

I'm just glad to see you didn't put anyone
from "Bonanza" on that list. Especially Little

Posted by: BJK on October 1, 2004 10:28 PM

Tuco Benidicto Pacifico Juan Maria Jamirez, (known as the rat)...

Have you ever heard Medicine Show by Big Audio Dynamite? It makes excellent use of Tuco and a lot of other Western's in it's sampling.

I liked Brian Dennehy in Silverado as a bad guy. And Ian McShane in HBO's Deadwood is pretty damn bad too.

Posted by: charles austin on October 1, 2004 10:40 PM

Can't argue with your choices, they're dying off way too fast, I for one miss the old westerns, they had it all, action, drama and values. Gunsmoke is my perennial favorite next to Gene Autry.

Posted by: Jack on October 1, 2004 11:06 PM

Beat me to it, Charles.
Brian Dehenny in Silverado was an excellent bad guy, he know the way things worked, and what was coming.

Posted by: Mythilt on October 1, 2004 11:52 PM

Hell........Gene Hackman playing "Bill" in Eastwood's "Unforgiven" of the best from the modern era.

But the Duke in "The Searchers'....standing in the door of that cabin...bleached out red shirt, high water pants...right arm crossing his chest to hold his left arm that's just hanging there.....haunting image of an awesome character!

Posted by: Marcus on October 2, 2004 12:16 AM

I think exposure to "Alias Smith And Jones" as a wee child caused a lifelong aversion to westerns. I do like:
Little Big Man
Against The Crooked Sky
Support Your Local Sheriff

Posted by: Dave Munger on October 2, 2004 01:22 AM

Don`t forget Lee Van Cleef

Posted by: CaptVern on October 2, 2004 04:02 AM

Movie: Do you recall the look on that hillbillys face, in Deliverance, when he had Ned Beaty's pants down and Bert Renolds came up from behind? Just the twang of the bow string and then the head of the arrow protruding out of his chest.
Book: The death of Luca Brazi in the Godfather? The movie version sucked.

Posted by: Ivan Ivanovich on October 2, 2004 04:06 AM

I totally agree with your list. Funny thing about Paladin. My father in law, God love him, thought the name of the show was Have Gun, and the character's name was Will Travel. He was a crazy old fart, but I miss him.

Posted by: Denise on October 2, 2004 05:46 AM

But the best bit from True Grit:

Ned Pepper - Well Rooster, will you give us the road, or do you think one on six is a dogfall?
Rooster Cogburn - I aim to kill you in about one minute Ned, or take you back to Fort Smith to hang at Judge Parkers' convenience.
Ned Pepper - I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.
Rooster Cogburn - Fill your hand you son of a bitch

Posted by: robert in england on October 2, 2004 07:47 AM

Slim Pickens lasting claim to fame is Blazing Saddles, IMHO.

Posted by: tybee mike on October 2, 2004 08:18 AM

My favorite line in True Grit was when Mattie Ross (of near Dardenel, in Yell County) swam the river at the ferry and The Duke said, "By God. She reminds me of ME!"

Posted by: Acidman on October 2, 2004 08:26 AM

Elam-Yes! Another Jack- Palance!!! Charles Bronson's early career was bad guy roles, too.

Posted by: Larry on October 2, 2004 12:30 PM

I'd just like to put in my vote for Alan Rickman as a first class villain. I know you guys have seen "Quigley Down Under". Rickman has been a villain in other movies as well and he obviously relishes the role. It is one of the most satisfying types of roles to play considerig that the leading man is so often a stiff. Let's also not forget Lawrence Olivier in "Marathon Man" with Dustin Hoffman. How cool is a Nazi dentist who uses a drill as a torture implement. I know this started out a thread about westerns, but villains come in all types. Jerry

Posted by: jerry dodge on October 2, 2004 09:34 PM

Not a cowboy role, but Strother Martin as the prison farm martinet in Cool Hand Luke was a classic. ALWAYS squeeze Jack Elam onto your list....based on looks alone. Sam Elliot (among the current generation) should get a nod somewhere. Gary Cooper for "High Noon" & other roles. Lee Marvin, if only for the drunken, broken-down cowpoke in "Cat Ballou".

Posted by: Hap Arnold on October 3, 2004 11:35 AM

But what about Jimmy Stewart? I really thiught I would see him on your list.

Posted by: sTEVE on October 4, 2004 08:43 AM

good post, i forwarded it to my friends

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