Re: RARA-AVIS: One southwest, one southwestern

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 20 Apr 2004

> A while later I noticed THE BROKEN GUN (1967) by Louis L'Amour on my
> shelf, beside THE HILLS OF HOMICIDE (1983) (a collection of revised
> versions of pulp mysteries he wrote in the late '40s, including one from
> BLACK MASK). I'm not much for western novels, but since this was set in
> Arizona I thought I'd give it a shot and see if it was at all hardboiled.
> It's the first western L'Amour set in contemporary times, I think: it's
> about a writer who gets mixed up with some bad ranchers because of
> research he's doing into something that happened in the Old West.
> He's not just a writer, though, he's a former cowboy who saw action in two
> wars and worked as a spy in Europe. He sure surprises the ranchers, who
> are expecting a sissified tenderfoot. With his Apache friend, he takes on
> everyone, and puts everything right. There's action, with guns and
> horses, and the hero's a tough hombre, but it's a solid western and not
> hardboiled. There is a lot of description of the hills and desert,
> though.

By all means do not miss the film version of THE BROKEN GUN. It's a powerfully rough-hewn adventure with a dark edge, one of the undeservedly neglected masterpieces of Southwest noir. Released as CANCEL MY RESERVATION, it stars Bob Hope, with cameos by Johnny Carson and Flip Wilson.

Jim Beaver

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