A little while back, in this post, we all had fun with some of the “gun bloopers” from TV and the movies. I have now been authorized to tell you about one movie that’s gonna get it right.
Panteao Productions is a producer of high-end tactical training films, as a quick scan of their website at www.panteaoproductions.com will show. In the interest of total disclosure, three of those films are mine, and like the others are all downloadable to computer or available to you on DVD. I also shot on his pistol team for many years. So, he’s a friend of mine…but I also know the guy, and when he says he’s going to produce a film, it gets produced.
Now, Panteao is going to expand into movie theater entertainment with the film “Alexander’s Bridge.”
You can check it out here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/alexander-s-bridge. Their quick synopsis is: “Alexander’s Bridge is a science fiction/action film about an elite team of US Army Delta Force Operators accidentally sent back 150 years to the middle of the Civil War. Finding themselves where a battle is about to take place and where thousands of Federal and Confederate soldiers will be killed or wounded, they must decide what to do. Can they make a difference? Who will they try to help? Will they get back home?”
I’ve read the script. This ain’t “Guns of the South” with M4s instead of AK47s. Panteao CEO Fernando Coelho has real Delta Force operators like Paul Howe and Tom Spooner on his team, and many more top-notch people from whom to draw technical advice. The movement patterns, the tactics, and of course the gun handling are all gonna be real. The Civil War battle scenes won’t consist of Hollywood extras dressed in blue and gray and given rubber guns to run around with: they’ll be made up of hard-core Civil War re-enactors who are absolutely authentic down to the threads of their clothing, period-correct boot-laces, and of course, the guns.
I hope I’m not letting a cat out of the bag here, but my favorite part of the script is that it ain’t just about 21st Century dudes rockin’ M4s and kickin’ butt on dudes with muzzle-loading single shots (though some of the players will be using period-correct lever actions like you’d have somehow found the money to buy for your son if he was going off to fight in the War Between the States back then). The most moving part of the film will come when bone-tired battle surgeons of the 1860s watch America’s Finest apply modern tactical emergency medicine to wounded soldiers. I like it because it shows the world that Our People care more about saving lives than extinguishing them.
It will be entertainment…but it will also be “enter-train-ment.” With the “indiego” thing, you get to chip in for a piece of the production action.
And once it comes out, the next time you and your friends are joking about how movies and TV always get this stuff wrong, you’ll be able to say…”Well, they got it right on the movie I helped to underwrite and produce!”
The verdict is in – Guilty on four of five counts, but a hung jury mistrial on the fifth and foremost – yet State v. Michael Dunn is far from over. The sentencing phase is still to come, and State’s Attorney Angela Corey has promised a second trial in the death of Jordan Davis.
We’ve now heard from two jurors, both of whom emphatically said race was not an issue in their deliberations. It certainly is to the media, though, and thanks to the media, it’s a huge issue in public opinion.
Pundits are saying that Dunn will spend the rest of his life in prison with multiple twenty-year sentences for attempted murder, including Florida’s mandatory sentencing for crimes committed with guns and shots fired. I won’t be counting those chickens until they’re hatched. That outcome presumes consecutive sentences. The judge, who strikes this writer as having been very fair and impartial throughout the proceeding, has the option of giving the sentences concurrently. By some estimates, that could mean only twenty years total. One pundit expected 80% service of sentence before eligibility for parole: down to sixteen years. Credit for time already served in jail awaiting trial, and Dunn might be down to fifteen years, getting out of prison when he’s still younger than me.
Re-trial? Ms. Corey might want to rethink that. We know now that three people on the jury held out for self-defense in the shooting death of Jordan Davis. 25% of the jury. That smells like reasonable doubt to me. Some of Dunn’s advocates claim the teens were seen removing something from their SUV and hiding it before returning to the shooting scene. I don’t recall any such witness testimony actually going before the jury. However, if such a witness surfaces and proves willing to testify in the second trial, the “phantom shotgun” Dunn claimed Davis wielded is going to be a whole lot more solid, and his story a whole lot more credible, and it could turn into a Not Guilty.
If you haven’t already, go to legalinsurrection.com and read the incisive commentary by Andrew Branca, an attorney and lethal force law expert who sat in the courtroom throughout the Dunn trial, as he did throughout the Zimmerman trial. It’s simply the most bullshit-free analysis of the issues in each case as they unfolded in court. Don’t neglect the extensive reader commentary found with each entry, much of it from seasoned criminal lawyers.
After a shooting, witness’ recollections may vary widely. Add to that what we would now consider sloppy investigation – the way it was done on the Frontier in Old West times – and 19th Century history starts to get a little fuzzy by the time it filters down to 21st Century readers.
While doing some research recently on the Northfield Bank Raid in Minnesota in 1876, that became apparent. No two historical accounts place the exchanges of gunfire at that hectic scene in the exact same order. “Jesse James was inside the First National Bank and killed the cashier!” “No, Jesse was outside, and it was his brother Frank who murdered the cashier inside!” “No, Jesse wasn’t even there, and he was turning his life around anyway…”
“The gunman killed by an armed citizen with a skillful 80-yard rifle shot was Bill Chadwell.” “No, it was another bad guy, named Stiles.” “You’re all nuts, Stiles was just one of Chadwell’s aliases!” And so it goes.
Hell, historians agree that Jesse James was killed by the “dirty little coward,” Robert Ford, but no one seems to agree on what he killed him with. Some historians can’t even agree with “they’s own selfs.” In “Jesse James: Legendary Outlaw” by Roger Bruns, we find on page 83, “…Bob Ford drew his Smith & Wesson .45 and shot the infamous outlaw through the back of the head.” However, turn the page and on P.85 we find this photo caption: “Bob Ford, the assassin of Jesse James, posed for this photograph with the weapon he used to kill the infamous outlaw.” The revolver in that photo is clearly a 7 ½” barrel Cavalry Model Colt Single Action Army.
In “The Escapades of Frank and Jesse James” historian Carl Breihan wrote, “Without hesitation Bob drew his Smith & Wesson and sent a slug crashing through Jesse’s head. This nickel-plated revolver, Serial No. 3766, Model No. 3, was the same weapon Jesse had given Bob as a present some days before.” (P.277) He adds, “Inquest records show that the gun used by Bob Ford was a Smith & Wesson and not a Colt as generally believed. Charley Ford said, ’Bob had a Smith & Wesson, and it was easier for him to get it out of his pocket.’ Bob Ford admitted, in part, “I could see that it was all over with Jesse when that Smith .44 slug tore through his head.” (P.280)
And some would have it that Ford killed James with one of James’ own guns, snatched from a two-holster gun belt James had just unbuckled and set on a table. Colt or Smith & Wesson? .44 or .45? Bob’s gun, or Jesse’s? A gun snatched from Jesse’s holster, or given to Bob by Jesse, or …?
My generation grew up in the golden age of TV Westerns. One we regularly watched in our home was “The Rifleman” starring Chuck Connors. A fellow nostalgia buff took the time to splice together all of lead character Lucas McCain’s shootouts. The body count he came up with was … 120.
Budget ten minutes to see it here:
My generation grew up with TV role models who racked up three-figure body counts, sometimes four at a time, and managed not to go out and perform mass homicides for real.
The Western gunfighters of mid-20th Century television apparently had bad-guy-seeking bullets. Notice how often the lead character shoots from the hip, with his muzzle angled starkly upward, and the camera then cuts to bad guys some distance away clutching their chests and falling. Simple geometry tells us that if Chuck Connors had been firing live ammo, a huge number of his bullets would have gone harmlessly over the heads of his targets.
Those gunfighters also had time machines. Presumably, “The Rifleman” was set in the 1870s-1880s. The stylized large-loop-lever signature gun of the star is a Model 1892 Winchester. The gun nerds tell us that the props Connors used consisted of a rotating battery of three of them, two ’92 Winchesters and one South American copy, the El Tigre. A stud inside the trigger guard of the lever hit the trigger as the action closed, allowing his rapid spray of shooting. Of course, with this device in place, every time you jacked a round into the chamber, your gun would fire.
Those gunfighters could also defy the law of gravity. The Winchesters had open-top actions. When Connors did his trademark one-handed flip to chamber a round, in real life the cartridge would have fallen out of the top of the rifle before it came back level, and the chamber would be empty when he pulled the trigger. Hollywood lore has it that Connors’ prop rifles were fitted with studs to keep the “five-in-one” blanks (so called because they were shaped to fit five different calibers) from falling out when he did that stunt. Why didn’t the rifle go off when he merely chambered a round? It wasn’t telekinesis: the stud inside the lever was adjustable. Only thing was, you had to be in league with the scriptwriters and the propmaster, who would make sure that device was adjusted properly before that particular scene was shot.
Those gunfighters faced zombies before George Romero thought of them. Watch carefully – in different episodes, the same character actors playing bad guys get blown away again and again.
Yes, it’s true…we gun people love to make fun of gun stuff that appears on the entertainment screens. The hell of it is, though, those “Hey, wait a minute, I smell contradictory BS” moments come in the study of ACTUAL past gunfights, too…and unless something newsworthy comes up in the meantime, we’ll discuss THAT next in this space.
Yee-haw! Today, my buddy John Strayer and I are “one year helicopter crash free.”
A year ago we and pilot Graham Harward managed to walk stagger away more or less intact from what one commentator called a “hard landing.” Yes, as a rule of thumb, “landing” upside down is hard whatever the conveyance.
We’re all completely recovered, and the scars are just souvenirs. No lawsuits; we knew what we were getting into when we stepped aboard the helicopter.
The incident, like all such things, gave each of us involved a sharpened appreciation of the people we love, and the people we serve. (We all got a pretty good dose of adrenaline and survival euphoria, too.)
Thanks to all for the kind support after it happened. Lessons came from it. John had a gun in hand when we lost power, and the bird went down too fast for him to holster; I’ve mentioned his impressive trigger finger discipline in every firearms safety lecture I’ve given since, and discussed it more in Guns Magazine.
Another lesson, of course, is that our being helicopter crash free may just have something to do with neither John nor I having been in a helicopter since. Our significant others both told us in no uncertain terms:
NO. MORE. HELICOPTERS. EVER!!!
We have replied,
<Ummm…maybe bigger helicopters? With newer engines…?>
Our pilot, of course, has been flying ever since, doing contract helicopter work, and doing just fine.
But, seriously, thanks for caring. They tell us to live every day as if it was our last. If I had done that, I would have given all my stuff away and the funeral director would be wondering where the body is for the last 51 and a half weeks. Perhaps it suffices to live every day as if it might be your last, and try like hell to do something good with the time.