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 Texas : Features : Columns : Lone Star Diary :
It's got to be true or I'm not interested!
The history curse...
by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery

Sometimes I think being a student of Texas history may be a curse. Why? Because it makes it very hard for me to enjoy some of those made-for-TV movies. This history "curse" is, for me, an extreme desire to see historical events portrayed somewhat accurately, even if they are included in a fictional story.


For example, a few years ago, I tried to watch Two For Texas and was doing O.K. until the character, being portrayed by Kris Kristoffersen, pulled out a five-shot Colt revolver. This would have been all right, except that the Colt revolver wasn't even in production until the 1840's. Ol' Kris was on his way to the Alamo in this movie and the year was 1836. Now don't you just know that the men inside the Alamo would have loved to have had some of those five-shot-revolvers!

I guess I'll never understand why the movie folks can't stick a little closer to the facts. I realize that this particular movie (Two for Texas) is fiction, but how hard would it have been to use a replica of an old flintlock pistol, circa. 1836?


Like I said, it's a "curse." I had the same problem with True Women. Everything was fine until early in the show when that rider gallops up to the people fleeing from the Mexican army and tells them to run faster because Santa Anna had just burned the town of Gonzales. That was it for me; any seventh grade Texas history student knows that Santa Anna didn't burn Gonzales. Sam Houston gave the order to burn the town. Now that I think about it, the rider that gave the false report (in the movie) might even have been portraying Sam Houston.

What were the movie folks thinking? Were they trying to make Santa Anna look like more of a bad guy then he already was? Believe me, his Excellency Santa Anna didn't need any help being a villain. He took care of that himself. Now before you get ready to chastise me, please understand that I'm not saying that True Women was all bad and I'm sure a lot of folks enjoyed it. I couldn't because, you see, I have the history "curse."


Several of my friends have told me to just lighten up and enjoy the show. They say, "Don't worry about what kind of uniforms the soldiers are wearing or the type of weapons they have, after all it's just a movie." Believe me I've tried, but I just can't help it. Sometimes I wish I could go back to being a kid again. I remember watching Roy Rogers on TV and it didn't bother me that Roy's gun never ran out of bullets. It didn't even upset me that while Roy was chasing the bad guys on his horse Trigger, that his trusty sidekick was after them in a jeep. A jeep! In the old West! Thank goodness I didn't have the "curse" back then or I never could have enjoyed my movie-watching childhood.

Seriously though, it seems to me that these moviemakers should strive for authenticity when it comes to portraying history. Anyone who studies Texas history can tell you that these "true" stories are an adventure all their own.


For example: Noah Smithwick came to Texas as a young man in 1827. He traveled extensively across a land that would soon become the Republic of Texas. When the citizens of Gonzales fired that first shot for independence, he was there. It was Smithwick who helped refurbish the little cannon to get it in shape to fire that shot. On another occasion, he hid all night during a cold "blue norther" to keep from being discovered by Comanche Indians. This event occurred on Plum Creek near Lockhart, Texas. Smithwick had to leave Texas, during the Civil War, because he didn't believe that his beloved state should secede from the union. He moved to California and died there when he was in his 90s. Smithwick's memory was exceptional and a few years prior to his death, he gave his daughter detailed accounts of his adventures in Texas.

Smithwick's recollections eventually became the book, Evolution Of A State. Would-be film makers should consider making a movie about someone like Noah Smithwick-stick to the facts; give it a good cast; use authentic props; film on location where the event actually happened; make sure the actor has the same color eyes and hair....

I can't help it - it's the "curse."

Murray Montgomery

Murray Montgomery is a photographer and writer based in Hallettsville, Texas

Lone Star Diary appears regularly in these Texas newspapers: The Gonzales Inquirer, the Hallettsville Tribune Herald, the Moulton Eagle, and The Yoakum Herald Times

September 1 2003
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