Guns of the Silver Screen: V22N2

By Kyle Shea

The Golden Compass

After the release of “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter,” movie studios were trying to release their own big fantasy hits. Many of these failed to excite the audiences on that level, including “Eragon” and this month’s film, “The Golden Compass.” It is based on the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, a book series that is known for its anti-Catholic and anti-religious perspectives. Needless to say it was controversial, but there were other problems that helped the film fail at the box office.

One of the characters in the movie is Lee Scoresby, played by Sam Elliott. One of his weapons of choice is a pair of Colt Single Action Army Pistols. Also known as the Colt 45, it is the gun of the cowboy and is one of the greatest handguns of all time. It was tough, easy to use and load and dependable. It shoots the .45 Cartridge, though there are a few other calibers available, like the .38 Colt and the .357 Magnum. To load, simply open the loading gate and pull the hammer back two clicks. For safety reasons, some cowboys would only load five rounds rather than six, because the hammer was always resting on the firing pin.

In 1872, the United States Army held a competition for a new handgun for its soldiers. In the end, it was the Colt that emerged the victor, and a legend was born. It saw action in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War and was used by range hands, sheriffs, marshals, outlaws and Native American warriors during the golden age of the American West. It was not the only gun in the west, but it became the most iconic, with men like Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Bat Matterson and Buffalo Bill Cody being among the men who used it. Both sides supposedly used it at the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and it was used by the troopers who rode with Custer at the Little Big Horn.

This gun is popular in movies, especially Westerns. Some of the most memorable films include “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” “Tombstone,” “A Fist Full of Dollars,” “Open Range” and “Shanghai Noon.” It is seen in countless John Wayne movies, like “Rio Bravo,” “Rio Grande,” “The Sons of Katie Elder,” “The War Wagon,” “True Grit” (1969), “Rio Lobo,” “The Shootist,” “Fort Apache,” “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” and “Big Jake.” They were even in more modern themed films like “The Expendables,” “The Expendables 2,” “The Mummy” (1999) and “Red Dawn” (1984). These are all good movies, and I recommend all of them.

“The Golden Compass” is a mixed bag. The effects are well done; however, there are twists that are weird, and the ending battle is actually laughable. The anti-religious themes in the books were not really present in the movie, taken out in order not to offend people. Many critics argue that this hurt the film, but there are other problems with the film that play an equal part in its downfall. Some of the acting is not that good, and there are points of the film that came across as poorly done, especially the ending. If you are interested, check it out, but it just wasn’t for me.

SAR would like to thank the movie wizards at Bapty, Ltd in London, UK, for their help in this article.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N2 (February 2018)
and was posted online on December 22, 2017


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