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'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.
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.
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."