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The Verdigris Kid

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

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Was watching this movie for the umpteenth time last night and happened to notice something I never had before. During the nomination scene when JW turns his back to the camera there is what appears to be a 45-70 round slotted in his gunbelt along with the pistol cartridges.

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Been told he did that frequently so he knew when he reached the middle and belt was half empty. Don't know when he actually would have reloaded, but that is the story I've heard.  

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I always thought it was to help him keep his balance while walking due to his 'swagger'.

:D

 

..........Widder

 

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4 hours ago, paisano said:

Been told he did that frequently so he knew when he reached the middle and belt was half empty...........................................

 

This is the understanding that i have always had.

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Well, I thought most people in those days tried to match both their 1873 Colt pistol(s) and their Winchester rifle to the same caliber.  That was caliber .44-40 in the early 1870’s.  That’s why I always questioned the .45-70  cartridge in John Wayne’s Pistol belt.  I didn’t think the movie armorers used separate caliber blanks in the weapons, but maybe it’s just that simple.

 

Cat Brules

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Posted (edited)

If I remember some distant-past reading, blanks in western movies were usually '5 in 1' blanks, that fit 38-40, 44-40, 45 LC (don't know where they got '5' out of that).

 

Every blank I've seen would not be confused with live ammo -- either the mouth of the case is crimped to a point, or slightly roll-crimped and a wad set deep in the case over the light powder charge.

 

I'd always heard the, 'running low on cartridges' explanations for the 45-70 in the loops.

 

Does anyone in SASS do it as a nod to the Duke?

Edited by Ozark Huckleberry

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It wasn't "5 different calibers". It meant "five different guns".

 

38/40 rifles and pistols (that's two), 44/40 rifles and pistols (two more makes four) and 45 pistols (total of 5).

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Lots of SASS shooters copy that. I guess cause it looks cool!! ;)

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11 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

I always thought it was to help him keep his balance while walking due to his 'swagger'.

:D

 

..........Widder

 

 

:P

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If I’m shooting my 44-40 1860 Henry and my 45 Rugers, I use a 45-70 to keep them separated on my belt.

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I shoot .38 special & have a 38-55 cartridge in the back of the bullet loops.  I hang my ammo bag on the longer cartridge while shooting. 

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3 hours ago, Chuck Steak said:

 

 

Loads on my computer as a paid subscription site....

Links to an article from True West Magazine and is not behind a paywall or a subscription site.

 

"For his movies, John Wayne wore a gunbelt that centered the .45-70 long rifle bullet in order to separate the other two similarly-looking bullets. Historian Jim Dunham says that one side (probably the right from the buckle, around to the long case) was filled with .45 long Colt ammo that fit the Duke’s revolver. On the other side were .44-40 caliber bullets that fit his Model 1892 Winchester carbine. The two bullets look identical; if one got mixed up with the other, it would easily jam the firearm."

 

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Posted (edited)

If you ever have a squib in your double barrel shotgun, a 45-70 cartridge is a good thing to grab and toss down the barrel to clear it.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Dutch Wheeler

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Very interesting discussion regarding the long cartridge in JW’s pistol belt.

 

I never looked at John Wayne’s cartridge belt that closely, but I’d be surprised if the armorer crew ever (for a couple reasons) loaded his belt with “movie blanks”.  I’d bet they just loaded him with dummy rounds of all one caliber, not giving the movie-goer credit, or reason enough to check for different caliber movie blanks (which may not have even existed on a movie set).....I’ve never looked that hard, that’s for sure.  
 

I’m guessing that probably some armorer-historian coached JW as to some “cowboys” having used the large, .45-70 cartridge to separate different caliber rifle and pistol cartridges to prevent “grabbing” mistakes.  Cool?  John Wayne probably thought it was cool, too!  
 

Cat Brules

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Posted (edited)

Before he acted, John Wayne worked on movie sets, was supposed to have met Wyatt Earp (ETA: even if they never actually met, they did work for Ford on the same sets) and used that knowledge to build his cowboy persona.

 

Maybe he got the detail from Earp?

Edited by Ozark Huckleberry
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Cant remember the web site but another story was that Yakima Canutt told the Duke "thats how the old timers used to do it" and so Wayne started doing it

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On 5/20/2020 at 12:00 AM, Cat Brules said:

Well, I thought most people in those days tried to match both their 1873 Colt pistol(s) and their Winchester rifle to the same caliber.  That was caliber .44-40 in the early 1870’s.  That’s why I always questioned the .45-70  cartridge in John Wayne’s Pistol belt.  I didn’t think the movie armorers used separate caliber blanks in the weapons, but maybe it’s just that simple.

 

Cat Brules

That’s a myth, probably propagated by Winchester to sell more rifles/cartridges. The sales and production numbers tell the whole truth. Almost more 45 colts than all other calibers combined and more than twice that of 44-40. I’m sure there were some that went that route, but certainly not most. 

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On 5/20/2020 at 9:55 AM, Bingo Montana said:

Links to an article from True West Magazine and is not behind a paywall or a subscription site.

 

"For his movies, John Wayne wore a gunbelt that centered the .45-70 long rifle bullet in order to separate the other two similarly-looking bullets. Historian Jim Dunham says that one side (probably the right from the buckle, around to the long case) was filled with .45 long Colt ammo that fit the Duke’s revolver. On the other side were .44-40 caliber bullets that fit his Model 1892 Winchester carbine. The two bullets look identical; if one got mixed up with the other, it would easily jam the firearm."

 

Being someone that also shoots two different calibers and loads them on my belt, I go the other direction. Left side is pistol right is rifle. It’s easy to load a Colt with the left hand, but harder to load a rifle. 

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It is my understanding that The Duke's" sixgun was actually a .38-40, not .44-40 or .45LC.  I have read and heard that the .45-70 round was to let him know when he was getting low on ammo, on one side. 

Stay well, Pards!

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On 5/22/2020 at 10:25 AM, Trailrider #896 said:

It is my understanding that The Duke's" sixgun was actually a .38-40, not .44-40 or .45LC.  I have read and heard that the .45-70 round was to let him know when he was getting low on ammo, on one side. 

Stay well, Pards!

 

He carried all these calibers thru his career .....  But it seems I read somewhere that he prefered the balance and handling of the 38-40.

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2 hours ago, Dantankerous said:

20200525_144009.jpg

Reader's Digest is wrong.

 

In his early B westerns he carried a 5½". In his later A westerns he carried a 4¾".

 

And the guns he carried in his last movie weren't even Colts. They were Great Westerns.

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2 hours ago, Sawhorse Kid said:

 

He carried all these calibers thru his career .....  But it seems I read somewhere that he prefered the balance and handling of the 38-40.

In his early movies, he did carry a 38-40 colt. The iconic gun most think of was originally a 44-40 Bisley converted to 45 colt, with a plow handle grip and maintained the bisleys trigger guard. Supposedly to accommodate his big fingers. I don’t know if there is any truth to that last part, but in keeping with the title of this thread, when legend becomes fact, print the legend. 

31 minutes ago, Alpo said:

Reader's Digest is wrong.

 

In his early B westerns he carried a 5½". In his later A westerns he carried a 4¾".

 

And the guns he carried in his last movie weren't even Colts. They were Great Westerns.

This is true. Those great westerns he used were given to him as a gift and he always wanted to use them in one of his movies. The Shootist was a perfect choice 

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1 hour ago, El Hombre Sin Nombre said:

............The iconic gun most think of was originally a 44-40 Bisley converted to 45 colt, with a plow handle grip and maintained the bisleys trigger guard. Supposedly to accommodate his big fingers. I don’t know if there is any truth to that last part, but in keeping with the title of this thread, when legend becomes fact, print the legend. ...................................

 

Wayne's Bisley

 

image.png.90a55cb763ea1a2fb2fbe1bc468ca783.png

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The very first firearm John Wayne ever carried on screen was a Colt M1911. He played an uncredited American Officer in Four Sons. (1928)

 

His first credited movie where he carried firearms was The Big Trail. (1930) Used an Enfield  Pattern 1853 and an 1858 Remington New Army.

 

He didn't carry a SAA until The Range Feud. (1931)

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On 5/21/2020 at 6:34 PM, El Hombre Sin Nombre said:

That’s a myth, probably propagated by Winchester to sell more rifles/cartridges. The sales and production numbers tell the whole truth. Almost more 45 colts than all other calibers combined and more than twice that of 44-40. I’m sure there were some that went that route, but certainly not most. 

I read once that most of those .45 colts were sold to the army, most civilians bought 44-40 to match their Winchester

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25 minutes ago, Crooked River Pete, SASS 43485 said:

I read once that most of those .45 colts were sold to the army, most civilians bought 44-40 to match their Winchester

I've read that before as well, but the numbers just don't support that theory. There were almost 160,000 Colts made in 45 colt, with 37,000 military issued. So that leaves roughly 120,000 for civilians. By comparison, there were only 71,000 44-40's made

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