Augustus, Woodrow & Me

January27/ 2008

It was a helluva party Woodrow were the final words of Augustus “Gus” McCrae to his comrade-in-life Woodrow Call in the epic TV mini-series Lonesome Dove.  The final installment of the McMurtry saga was on TV last week bringing back memories of 1989. ….. BobLee comments on UNC’s first loss and the NFL Weekend too ….

Maybe I was looking for my own “Montana cattle drive” back then but when Lonesome Dove first appeared in 1989 it hit me right between the eyes and has stuck with me ever since.  My pal Riverwalk Bobby down in San Antone had recommended Larry McMurtry’s book to me a few years earlier but I had never gotten around to it.  I tuned in because the title reminded me of Bobby’s recommend.

I watch movies (TV or cinema) for one reason – to be entertained.  I don’t know squat, jack or diddly about cinematography, plotting, dialogue or the assorted disciplines of film-making nor do I much care.  I know what I like …. And boy oh boy did I like Lonesome Dove A LOT.

I’ve probably seen Roadhouse and Green Berets more times than LD but only because LD’s length limits its showing.

There are a handful of actors who ARE certain characters they play.  Somehow their performance transcends the make-believe of movies and they become those characters forever more.  Your list will differ from mine but this is my website.

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh are Rhett and Scarlett.  George C. Scott is Patton.  Clint Eastwood is Dirty Harry.  Audrey Hepburn is Holly Golightly and, of course, Sean Connery is “you know who” shaken not stirred.  Squarely on any such list are Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones as Texas Ranger Captains McCrae and Call.  

Jon Voight played Call in Return To Lonesome Dove and James Garner played him in Streets of Laredo and whozits played Call and McCrae in this recent one but Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall ARE Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae. 

McMurtry wrote “The Lonesome Dove saga” like George Lucas wrote Star Wars.  After the first one, the Muse of Inspiration gave him the befores and afters so the chronology is out-of-whack.

In a proper time line, the saga of Gus and Woodrow iDead Man’s Walk ….. Comanche Moon (the recent one) …. Lonesome Dove …. And Streets of Laredo.

 Betcha didn’t know that as McMurtry forsaw his story going to film, he wanted John Wayne as Woodrow and Jimmy Stewart as Gus (and Henry Fonda as Jake Spoon).  Wayne turned it down.  Charles Bronson was offered the Woodrow part but turned it down.  Tommy Lee ended up with the defining role of his career.

   Betcha also didn’t remember that Wes Studi who played Buffalo Hump in Comanche Moon also played Famous Shoes the Kickapoo tracker in Streets of Laredo.  Studi is Hollywood’s most evil Indian also playing Magua in Last Of The Mohicans and Geronimo.

If Woodrow Call defines TLJ, then Gus McCrae and Robert Duvall are an ethereal union.  Duvall admits Gus is his favorite part ever and he played versions of Gus in two other authentic westerns since then.

I like “buddy movies” and I like “westerns”.  LD may be the pent-ultimate of both.  There have been mountains of praise heaped on LD by movie critics and its bazillions of devoted fans so nothing I can say is any more than what it meant to me.

Gunsmoke, High Noon, Magnificent Seven, the spaghetti westerns, and the various John Huston John Wayne Rio Bravos etc were all fine.  But you knew they were movies being acted out.  The catering truck with the doughnuts was just out of camera view.  With LD it was like I was transported back in time to eavesdrop on a group of people living out their lives in an era where “living” was never a certainty.  Every day was a test of survival vs nature, animals and the most savage of animals – man.

Every LD devotee has a “never forget” part.  The water moccasins in the river …. Blue Duck …. Gus and PeaEye vs the renegades …. Hanging Jake Spoon …. When Deets died …. Clara and Lorie dealing w/ Gus’ death …. Gus’ deathbed scene …. Woodrow fulfilling his promise …. Et al.  I loved’em all if love is the right word.  My fav was the scene in the town when the cavalry officer was threatening Newt.  Woodrow came out of the store, saw it and came to Newt’s rescue.

I can’t say if Gus or Woodrow was my favorite.  They are inseparable.  What is so incredible about them is that you know they have existed throughout time.  These two were Texas Rangers in the 1870s.  There had to be Gus & Woodrows in ancient Rome …. In Sparta …. With Napoleon …. On Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima …. In Mayberry …. On Wall Street and Madison Avenue …. In your neighborhood …. And, hopefully, ….. a version of such flawed nobility in your own life.

I have often used Lonesome Dove as a touchstone with various guys I have met since 1989.  If you saw LD and it did not stick with you, our relationship will likely never be more than a superficial mutual convenience.    

Suzanne Pleshette died this weekend.  

She and “Lippy” in Lonesome Dove have a connection …. 

Who is it?


   As I e-commented with Dave Glenn yesterday, the horseshoe fell out of Ol’ Roy’s pocket on Saturday.  Unlike recent nail-biter Ws at Clemson and GaTech this one had a foreboding to it from the get-go.  When this year’s version of Roy’s Boys are in Flying Circus mode they are a delight …. But only the naiviest of Heeloids did not see some Ls along the way.  The loss of Bobby puts this season squarely on Lawson so quick fouls or a bad wheel could mean uh-oh for March. ….. did you catch the frustrated UNC fan-ette screaming in the final minute – Go back to the ghetto”  at the Terp with the Buckwheat hairdo?  YIKES! On the week-end of MLK Day no less !!!!  Gotta believe my pal Chuck Stone winched a bit with that one.

    I know its “Old School” but I don’t care for “bad weather games”.  As a fan of the Cowboys in the 60s, I never unthawed from the original Ice Bowl …. But yesterdays were good ones.  Kudos to Philip for taking my advice on the jawing and just being a warrior.  Is he now a top 4-5 NFL QB?  Ten rings and he’ll never merit a kudo from the UNC bottom-feeder bunch but luckily they don’t count for much.  ….. speaking of the bottom feeders, they will never give “the Manning Boys” their due either but again, there is a reason that bottom feeders are bottom feeders.  Eli’s Coming of Age would be THE story of the year if the Patriots had not sucked all the air out of this season.  If you don’t admire The Mannings because they are “too goody-goody” then rethink your view of sports.  Another Tar Heel goes Super Bowling as G-man Madison Hedgecock heads to Glendale.  We like that young man A LOT!


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