This movie is not available to view in its entirety, but thanks to the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Foundation, several of the most exciting minutes are available to view. The version I saw had a good-but-somewhat distracting score, obviously influenced by Ennio Morricone, tacked on. The movie is the product of real-life Marshall Bill Tilghman, who reportedly stopped shooting at one point to chase real-life outlaws after a bank robbery near the film shoot. He was concerned about the way Westerns were depicting outlaws as heroes and lawmen as fools, so made this movie to tell the story from his own side, using other lawmen, and even one of the criminals he had arrested, as actors in the piece. As an added bonus, he toured with the film, providing narration for audiences eager to hear firsthand accounts of the Wild West from a genuine gunfighter. What we have to see today is a bit less thrilling, the filming is pretty static and unimaginative, although the action is well-staged. I get the impression that most of the producer would have been more adept at making a live Wild West Show than a movie. Fans of Jim Jarmusch will be amused to know that the outlaw identified as “Tulsa Jack” was born William Blake – could this have been an inspiration for “Dead Man” (1995)?
Director: Bill Tilghman
Camera: James Bennie Kent
Starring: Bill Tilghman, E.D. Nix, Chris Madsen, Roy Daugherty
Run Time: 13 Min (orig, 6 reels – up to 90 Min?)
You can watch part of it for free: here. If you can find a more complete version, please tell us in the comments.