Thursday, March 21, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Cheyenne Autumn (1964) **

NR, 154 min.
Director: John Ford
Writers: James R. Webb, Mari Sandoz (book)
Starring: Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, Sal Mineo, Delores Del Rio, Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Arthur Kennedy, Patrick Wayne, Elizabeth Allen, John Carradine, Victor Jory, Mike Mazurki, George O’Brien, Sean McClory, Judson Pratt, Carmen D’Antonio, Ken Curtis, James Stewart, Edward G. Robinson

My father was a huge fan of westerns. He was also a Marine. When I was born he had some pretty interesting ideas for what my name should be. My mother would never have seriously considered his choices, nor should she have. My father knew that, and maybe that’s why he really put himself out their with them. I’m glad he didn’t name me, but I’m also glad he eventually revealed his choices.

His boy name for me was Huey Cobra, just like a good Marine. His girl name for me was even more interesting. He wanted to name me Cheyenne Autumn. I don’t know if this was homage to John Ford’s film treatise against the treatment of the American Indian upon our country’s conquest of The West. I can’t imagine it was. I don’t really think this was one of his favorite westerns. He never said anything about it to me. Plus, it’s a little too concentrated on a cause and not on the action for him. I know the fact that the film’s attempts to bring light to the Native plight is blighted by the fact that white men and Latinos play the major Indian roles didn’t matter to my Dad. I think he just liked the two names together.

When I was a twentysomething I lived in Colorado. In order to get to my fiancés parents house, we had to traverse that terrible stretch of I-70 from Denver to Kansas City that was something akin to traveling through the seventh plane of Hell. Just before you get to the Colorado/Kansas border heading east there’s an exit for a town called Cheyenne Wells. On our move from Colorado to Missouri, we made sure to stop and get a picture of me standing under that sign. Thanks for allowing me to know something of my life were I a girl, Dad; but I don't think I would've enjoyed the life of a stripper.

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