Award-winning author David Morrell introduces a free showing of Cowboy, the trail-driving classic of a greenhorn spurred by a dream, on Friday, Nov. 15, at 5:30 pm in the History Museum Auditorium. This Classic Cowboy Movie Night is part of the museum’s ongoing exhibit, Cowboy Real and Imagined.
“Filmed near Santa Fe, Cowboy is one of the classic trail-drive movies,” said Morrell, author of First Blood, the novel that gave birth to Rambo. “Reminiscent of Red River, it emphasizes that real cowboys weren’t like the glamorized ones that Jack Lemmon’s character imagines. Delivering another solid performance in a western, Glenn Ford dominates the screen, especially on horseback. Few actors rode more gracefully.”
Released in 1958, Cowboy is based on Frank Harris’ semi-autobiographical novel My Reminiscences as a Cowboy. Jack Lemmon (in his only western role) portrays a city-boy hotel clerk who dreams of being a cowboy. He partners with a rough-and-tough cowboy, Tom Reece, played by Glenn Ford, and hits the trail only to learn some hard truths about cowboying and life in general. According to Rotten Tomatoes, “The film’s most talked-about scene finds a group of cowboys planting a rattlesnake in one of their comrade’s blankets as a joke; their regretful but oddly detached reaction when the bitten man dies speaks volumes about the Real West. Also memorable is the performance of Brian Donlevy as Doc Bender, an ageing gunfighter who can’t stand the notion of becoming an anachronism. One of the more unorthodox westerns of the 1950s, Cowboy is also one of the best.”
Morrell, a Santa Fe resident, holds a Ph.D. in American literature from Penn State and was an English professor at the University of Iowa. His numerous New York Times bestsellers include the classic spy trilogy The Brotherhood of the Rose (the basis for the only television mini-series to premier after a Super Bowl), The Fraternity of the Stone, and The League of Night and Fog. An Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominee, Morrell received three Bram Stoker awards and the prestigious Thriller Master award from the International Thriller Writers organization. His writing book, The Successful Novelist, discusses what he has learned in his four decades as an author.
His latest is a Victorian mystery/thriller, Murder as a Fine Art, which Publishers Weekly chose as one of the top 10 crime novels of 2013. Learn more at www.davidmorrell.net.
Cowboys Real and Imagined explores New Mexico’s cowboy legacy from its origin in the Spanish vaquero tradition through itinerant hired hands, outlaws, rodeo stars, cowboy singers, Tom Mix movies and more. The exhibit grounds the cowboy story in New Mexico through rare photographs, cowboy gear, movies and art. It includes a bounty of artifacts ranging in size from the palm-sized tintype of Billy the Kid purchased at a 2011 auction by William Koch to the chuck wagon once used by cowboys on New Mexico’s legendary Bell Ranch.
The exhibition is generously supported by the Brindle Foundation; Burnett Foundation; Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, Houston; Candace Good Jacobson in memory of Thomas Jefferson Good III; New Mexico Humanities Council; Newman’s Own Foundation; Palace Guard; Eugenia Cowden Pettit and Michael Pettit; Jane and Charlie Gaillard; Moise Livestock Company; the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association; and the many contributors to the Director’s Leadership, Annual Education, and Exhibitions Development Funds.