"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

In Old California (Republic, 1942)

Duke in a top hat

Westerns went for the In Old… title. Back in 1929 Warner Baxter had won an Oscar for his part as the Cisco Kid in the early talkie In Old Arizona. Ken Maynard was down In Old Santa Fe in 1934. Roy Rogers was ridin' In Old Caliente and Fred Scott In Old Montana, both in 1939. Hopalong Cassidy was moseying along In Old Colorado in 1941. John Wayne himself, after In Old California, would make a companion piece, In Old Oklahoma, the following year.

At Republic in the late 30s Wayne had been making one-hour programmer Westerns that the lesser studios churned out for the largely juvenile market, and had achieved some fame leading in the Three Mesquiteers series. But in 1939 it all changed when John Ford ended his long ostracism of Duke and cast him as the Ringo Kid in Stagecoach, which became a big hit. Suddenly Herb Yates, Republic’s shrewd boss, realized he had a star on his hands. He brought Stagecoach co-star Claire Trevor back and made Republic’s biggest ever Western, Dark Command, featuring stellar MGM actor Walter Pidgeon on loan, and directed by Raoul Walsh. So by the early 40s Wayne was quite a name and was drawing in the crowds. In Old California was certainly no big-budget Dark Command, and it was also overshadowed, because though it was filmed at the end of 1941 (just at the time of Pearl Harbor), it was released the same month, May '42, as Universal’s big and boisterous The Spoilers, with Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott as well as Duke. Still, though, In Old California is a lot of fun, 88 minutes of good Sepiatone black & white chock-full of action.

Duke now a big Western star

Second in the cast list was British-born actress Binnie Barnes, usually ‘the other woman’ but occasionally doing female lead. She had, for example, been Alice Munro in the Randolph Scott version of The Last of the Mohicans in 1936. She plays the Dietrich-esque singer-saloon gal Lacey, while the more prim-and-proper girl who is rival to Lacey for the attentions of Duke is Ellen (Helen Parrish, former child star who had been a little girl in The Big Trail, also starring Wayne, back in 1930 and had done something similar in Cimarron the year after). So it’s one of those Westerns in which you wonder which gal will win the hero’s hand. As if we care.

Binnie Barnes

Third-billed as chief bad guy Britt Dawson was Albert Dekker, about whom we were talking the other day when reviewing his Bat Masterson in The Woman of the Town, the year after this one. In Old California was his second oater and he would return In Old Oklahoma the following year. He was back in California with Barbara Stanwyck and Ray Milland in 1947. He was OK as good-guy Bat but really he was better as a heavy in a suit, and in this one, oh joy, his weapon of choice is a derringer.

Dekker best as bad guy

It’s an 1848/9 story and opens when polite top-hatted Boston pharmacist Tom Craig (Wayne) enters a San Francisco saloon and asks for milk. Naturally the other patrons mock him but less so when they see him bend a coin in the fingers of one hand. The saloon empties (except for the druggist) when rampaging Kegs McKeever comes in with a raging toothache. When the Bostonian is able to soothe the man’s pain with some ointment (oil of cloves?) the wild bull Kegs becomes a docile lamb, and attaches himself to Craig as factotum/sidekick in gratitude. They set off for Craig’s new career as a drugstore owner in Sacramento.

Duke gets his topper back

Wayne's father was a pharmacist and that possibly contributed to his accepting this role.

On the way to the ship they meet Lacey, leading a parade of admirers and servants carrying her porcelain bath tub. Craig gallantly carries her across a muddy street, earning the displeasure of Dawson, her intended. So much so, in fact, that Dawson has the druggist thrown overboard and he has to make his way to the capital on foot. He finally gets there but all the property owners have been warned by Dawson, who is crooked boss of the place, not to let any building to Craig. Finally, though, he meets up again with Lacey in her saloon (where she sings a racy little number, California Joe) and she agrees to rent out a place she owns to him, as partner. So it’s all set up for a love-triangle.

Such gallantry

Or quadrilateral. Enter the fair Ellen, who turns Craig’s head with her looks and by faking a faint gets him to shower attentions on her. Lacey is jealous. Meanwhile, as a sub-plot, Lacey’s feisty maid Helga (Patsy Kelly) has set her cap at Kegs. She will marry him, if he likes it or not. This is the comic-relief. Helga does have a good way of taking the washing down. She shoots the clothes-pegs with a revolver. She quick-marches Kegs off to the preacher, “or my handbag might go off.” (She has her six-gun in it).

Helga eyes her future hubby Kegs

The top hat has disappeared. It’s a Stetson now. The cowboy-hat Stetson hadn’t been invented yet, but never mind.

The top hat's gone

Britt Dawson’s depredations get out of hand (he goes around shooting farmers with his derringer) and his brother Joe (Dick Purcell) is just as bad as Britt, if not worse. Craig whips up a posse to fight back. So there’s plenty of action. At one point there’s a wagon chase very like the one In Old Oklahoma.

Well, Craig’s business is going well. His is the only drugstore in town and there’s no doc. But evil Britt Dawson spikes his famed tonic with poison. The first casualty is the town drunk Whitey (Emmett Lynn) but the townsfolk are furious. They could all have been killed. It being a Western, what is their first response? “Get a rope!” They will lynch the druggist. A hanging is the immediate knee-jerk response of all Western mobs, just as today a strike is the very first thought that comes into the minds of disgruntled French workers. But just as the wagon is about to be whisked away from under his feet, leaving him dangling from a tree branch, a rider gallops into town yelling “Gold!” (so I suppose we must be in 1848) and the townspeople suddenly are distracted. Phew.

Now, Ellen is winning the war and Craig is so far besotted with her, despite her rather arrogant ways, that he finally proposes. Lacey’s nose is distinctly out of joint.

Ellen's winning. Lacey is miffed.

What with the poison scandal and all, Craig’s shop has to close down and he seeks out Britt Dawson for a saloon brawl (an essential ingredient of all Wayne Westerns of the time). But the new Marshal Alvin Thomas (Robert Homans) breaks it up and throws Craig in jail.

Lacey refuses Britt’s proposal (she is disgusted with him and really loves Craig) and sets off for the goldfields, where typhoid fever has struck. She rolls up her sleeves, wipes off her make-up, Dietrich style, and starts nursing the sick. When Craig hears about it, he persuades the marshal to release him, loads up wagons with medicines, raises the townsfolk again and sets off in a large convoy to help, much to the annoyance of Ellen, who gives him an ultimatum: me or the miners. Of course it’s no contest. It’s off to the camp of Bear’s Claw to bring succor to the gold miners.

Now Britt really loves Lacey and wants to go save her from the risk of infection but brother Joe steps in as chief baddy, mortally wounding his brother and taking over leadership of the gang. So it’s all set up for a thrilling showdown, with mucho shootin’ and gallopin’. I shall not reveal the ending, dear e-reader. My lips are, as ever (well, nearly ever) sealed. But I can tell you it does not end in tragedy for the druggist and the saloon gal. Doubtless they lived happily ever after. Or not.


The whole shebang was directed by William McGann, director of Warner Bros Bs through the 30s who was not really a Western specialist but the same year did the Richard Dix oaters Tombstone, The Town Too Tough to Die and American Empire. He certainly got pace and action into his pictures. Republic stalwart Jack Marta was the DP. He was the regular on Robert Livingston programmers and also did Gene Autry and Roy Rogers oaters, as well as those Three Mesquiteers thrillers with Duke.

Obligatory saloon song

The writers were Mesdames Gertrude Purcell and Frances Hyland, from a story by good old Gladys Atwater. Gertrude and Gladys seem to have had a lot of fun.

I enjoy these 40s black & white Westerns Wayne did for Republic (though one or two were on the stodgy side, especially those in which Yates’s mistress Vera Ralston was imposed on Wayne as female lead). In Old California and the sequel In Old Oklahoma are zippy pictures which still entertain today.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Gun Fury (Columbia, 1953)

Rock rides again

We were reviewing The Lawless Breed earlier this month, a Raoul Walsh-directed Western starring Rock Hudson, released by Universal in January 1953. Well, later that same year (it was released in October) Walsh and Hudson got together again for another Western, for Columbia, Gun Fury.

Walsh perceptively understood that Hudson (left) was good in Westerns. Many people think of Rock as a matinée idol who starred in bedroom comedies with Doris Day, but that came later. His first three roles, starting in 1948, were bit parts as a second lieutenant, a detective and a truck driver. In 1950 he was Young Bull, the Indian who kills John McIntire to get the famous Winchester ’73. He had a small part as Burt Hanna in Tomahawk in 1951. And the following year he graduated to a fourth-billed role as gambler Trey Wilson in Anthony Mann’s Bend of the River, a James Stewart Western. Then he was third-billed as Robert Ryan’s brother in the Budd Boetticher-directed Horizons West. He had come up in the Western world. Walsh rated him highly and put him under contract. He rode very competently and looked the part in cowboy duds. He never really ‘shone’ as a Western actor but did well as the strong, silent type. His part as John Wesley Hardin in The Lawless Breed was his first lead role in a Western (if you discount the only semi-Western Scarlet Angel), and Gun Fury was his third (in between his two Walsh oaters he was back with Boetticher leading in Seminole, released in March ’53). So we can say that by the time of Gun Fury Rock Hudson was a leading man in the Western genre.

Gun Fury came out at the height of the 1953 craze for 3D. It was a cumbersome filming process but it was briefly very popular. It didn’t last and even in ’53 the vast majority of theater-goers would have seen it in 2D. But those that were able to don the special plastic eyeglasses were amazed. The film-makers made the most of it by having actors lunge with a knife directly at the camera or shoot their Colts into it, which made the spectators jump. Hondo, released by Warners the month after Gun Fury, was another 3D Western. Actually, Leo Gordon was in both. It’s curious in a way that Walsh helmed a 3D picture because he only had one eye (he had lost the other when a jackrabbit crashed through his windshield back in 1928 when he was to have been the Cisco Kid in In Old Arizona) so he couldn’t appreciate the 3D effect at all. The same was true of André De Toth, another eye-patch-wearing director, when he made the 1953 horror flick House of Wax. De Toth also made The Bounty Hunter, a Western starring Randolph Scott, which was shot with 3D in mind but finally released in standard format in October ’54, the craze having petered out. John Ford, though, despite his frequent eyepatch, had two eyes and could see 3D, though he never made a 3D picture.

3D tricky for them

The movie is in Technicolor and was photographed by Lester White, who also shot The Stranger Wore a Gun and Fort Ti that year. The locations are great, those orange rocks round Sedona, Arizona that we are so fond of. The colors are bright and the print on the DVD very good.

When you first start watching Gun Fury, you might be tempted to think ho-hum, a 50s Western with Rock Hudson. And up to a point you keep thinking that all the way through. However, at one point the picture suddenly starts to grip you. The movie is tight, action-packed and has some very good dialogue. Could it be written by Burt Kennedy?

Irving Wallace

Actually, the screenplay was by Irving Wallace and Roy Huggins, from the three-author novel Ten Against Caesar, by a gaggle of Grangers. Wallace was a novelist and short-story writer, author of The Chapman Report and The Prize, who also contributed to the Western movies The Gambler from Natchez and The Burning Hills, as well as penning episodes of TV Westerns such as Yancy Derringer. Huggins had directed and written Hangman’s Knot with Randolph Scott the year before Gun Fury and would go on to write many Cheyenne and Maverick episodes, and later The Virginian. Both Wallace and Huggins knew their business and the story and dialogue of Gun Fury are pretty darn good. The basic theme is anti-pacifist: the hero hates violence but eventually comes to see that a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do – with a gun.

Roy Huggins

The ubiquity of the word gun in the title of Western movies says something on its own. Gun Fury was not the first, or last. On this blog alone we have reviewed 77 Westerns with the word gun in the title.

Sometimes the titles referred to the revolver itself, such as Billy the Kid’s Smoking Guns or Jane Got a Gun. Sometimes the word gun referred to the user, like Five Guns to Tombstone or Top Gun. Sometimes the guns received adjectives, like The Quick Gun or The Quiet Gun. Numbers of guns were popular, as in Five Guns West or Forty Guns (sometimes written as digits, like 6 Guns or 40 Guns to Apache Pass). Then there were all the titles which referred to a specific gun, such as Winchester '73 or Springfield Rifle. Places were named for the weapons, like Gun Street or Last Train from Gun Hill. The six-shooter was certainly popular. The Western Money, Women and Guns rather sums up the genre.

Rock is Ben Warren, who has come out of the Civil War revolted by violence and determined not to fight ever again. He is going to California by stage with his fiancée Jennifer (Donna Reed), to start a new life.

Donna and Rock are engaged and on their way to a Californian idyll

But also on the stage is smarmy but crazed Confederate Frank Slayton (Philip Carey, the captain from Springfield Rifle) and his sidekick Jess (Leo Gordon the Great in his first big role - the same year he was to be Ed Lowe, shot by John Wayne in Hondo). Their soldiers who are the military escort are in reality Slayton’s thugs and they hold up the stage, shoot Rock and leave him for dead, and the whole gang run off with Donna. Rock comes to (the bullet only creased him, you know how they do) and naturally gives chase. He soon joins up with Jess, who has fallen out with Slayton and wants revenge, and an Indian, Billy Whiskers (Post Park), also out for vengeance because Slayton abducted his woman too. Of course the Indian immediately becomes the gofer, being given the menial tasks in a slightly Tonto-ish way.

Stage passengers you don't want to be traveling with

So Jess becomes a semi-goody, an unusual departure for Leo. He was one of my favorite ever Western bad guys. My spirits always lift when I see his name in the cast.

Wicked Carey leaves Leo to the vultures

In the gang we also find Lee Marvin, 29 but already in his 14th film and 5th Western, and Neville Brand, 19th movie and 3rd Western. They have very Elvis-style oiled haircuts. Marvin is rather bolshie and doesn’t care for the dame being taken along and slowing them down.

Lee excellent (as always) as heavy

The notion of the Californian idyll, that ranch where they will live happily ever after, is a standard trope in Westerns. California was (even) farther West, so even in a Western it could still be the promised land where a man was free. When the West got too violent, or too civilized, that was where pioneers headed. Sometimes they went to Mexico but usually it was California. Hondo and Angie Lowe set out for there at the end of the movie Hondo, as do Henry Fonda and Betsy Palmer in The Tin Star. You will be able to think of other examples.

There’s a Mexican girl Estella (Roberta Haynes) who had been Slayton’s squeeze but he throws her over in favor of Donna, and even gets Blinky to shoot her horse (he shoots his Winchester onto the 3D camera) and leave her afoot. So she joins up with Ben, Jess and Billy Whiskers.

Lee fires into the camera

A gang member, Curly (Bob Herron) tries to help Jennifer but the ploy fails and Curly is staked out and trampled to death for his pains. Gradually the arithmetic is changing. Ben started alone and it was 1 against 9, but then it became 2:8, then 3:8 and now 4:7. Slayton’s gang is slowly being whittled down and the odds are shifting. Something similar happened in another Walsh Western, Along the Great Divide.

Nice AZ scenery

John Dierkes appears briefly as a sheepherder from whom they get another horse and some guns.

Jennifer is a bit wet. She faints when Ben is shot during the stage hold-up, then screams when she sees a rattler. Not sure how’s she going to cope on that California ranch. Still, she does her best to shape up and make a run for it when the gang aren’t looking.

Reed a good actress but she had a rather submissive part

Eventually Slayton proposes a deal. He will give Jennifer back if Ben hands over Jess. The ending is, I must say, on the improbable side. But as you may imagine, there’s a last-reel reunification of lovers prior to the Calif journey and all’s well that ends well – except for the various corpses littered on the red Arizona earth.

Gun Fury never becomes a great Western. It’s not in the Hondo class and certainly not anywhere near other ’53 offerings like The Naked Spur or Shane. But it is nevertheless very enjoyable, with a strong cast giving some good performances (Carey nearly steals the show). It rattles along (Walsh was very good at pace) and if you like a 50s action Western with zip (and why are you reading this blog is you don’t?) you’ll enjoy it. I did. Again.

Love the artwork


Monday, October 15, 2018

The Pinkertons

They never slept

Men (and occasionally women) of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency played a big part in Westerns. They played a big part in American history too, so fair enough. It is perhaps surprising that a private company should exercise such power and influence in the realm of American law and order but in an age when there was no national police force, the US Marshals being about the closest we came, and local peace officers were often either incompetent or corrupt (and sometimes both on the same day, as Woody Allen put it) the Pinkertons served a valuable, even invaluable purpose. They could cross states and territories, and pursue malefactors implacably.

Allan Pinkerton (right) himself saved Lincoln from assassination in 1861 when the president-elect was traveling through Baltimore to Washington DC for his inauguration, and Pinkerton was asked by Lincoln to head up an embryonic secret service in the Civil War – an opportunity he accepted with alacrity. He was mortified when he heard of the successful attempt on Abe’s life in 1865 and wished ever after that he had been there to prevent it. There’s a good 2016 dramatized documentary on this in the American Lawmen series screened from time to time on PBS, with Neil Affleck as Allan Pinkerton. And Anthony Mann made it the subject of his movie The Tall Target in 1951, with Dick Powell in the role of the Pinkerton agent and Robert Malcolm as Allan Pinkerton, a movie which you might not regard as a Western but is as near as dammit and was reviewed on this site in June 2015 (click the link for that). There was also Saving Lincoln in 2013, with Marcus J Freed as Pinkerton.

Pinkerton agent Dick Powell saves Abe

Pinkerton himself also appeared in The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (Herbert Nelson), American Outlaws (post-James Bond Timothy Dalton) and Frank and Jesse (William Atherton), among others. Douglas Evans played Allan Pinkerton in an episode of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp. Angus McFadyen played him in the 2014 series The Pinkertons. Superman, no less (well, Christopher Reeve anyway) was Pinkerton in TNT’s fanciful 1990 movie The Rose and the Jackal, recounting his (entirely fictional) romance with a glam Confederate spy. Pinkerton was probably the inspiration for the various Whispering Smith movies, and the Audie Murphy TV series. And maybe there was something Pinkertonish about Matt Clark and glam sidekick catching all those outlaws in Stories of the Century.

Allan Pinkerton’s agents made frequent appearances in many other oaters. The agency of course involved itself on behalf of the railroads and express companies with the depredations of the James gang and there being so many Westerns about Jesse James & Co - and the railroad companies usually being the villains of the piece (poor Jesse never wanted a life of crime; he was forced into it by the greedy railroads oppressing the poor, you know how the whitewash goes) - the Pinkertons, by association, were baddies. It is true that the January 1875 firebomb attack on the James ranch, which maimed Mrs. James and killed her son Archie, was a grave political error, if nothing else, and turned whole swathes of the population against the Pinkertons.

The James homestead in Missouri

Actually, Pinkerton had worked tracking down the first train robbers of the West, the pre-James gang Reno brothers, but for some reason Western movies have tended largely to ignore the Renos, so we don’t get too many Westerns with Pinkertons chasing them. Randolph Scott was a Pinkerton man chasing the Renos in Rage at Dawn but as sometimes happened, the name was changed (perhaps for fear of lawsuits) and Randy was a ‘Peterson’ detective. (And in Fighting Man of the Plains Randy is tracked down by a certain Cummings, played by James Millican, a sleuth from the ‘Pleasanton’ Detective Agency of Chicago, Illinois). In the only other Reno brothers movie I know of, Love Me Tender (the Elvis one), there are no Pinkertons, although Robert Middleton plays a detective named Mr. Siringo, and Charlie Siringo did become a Pinkerton agent – much later (see below).

Randy was a "Peterson" man in Rage at Dawn

Allan Pinkerton himself produced numerous popular detective stories, ostensibly based on his own exploits and those of his agents. Some were published after his death, and they are considered to have been more motivated by a desire to promote his detective agency than a literary endeavor. Pinkerton may well have hired ghostwriters, but the books nonetheless bear his name and certainly contributed to the legend of the Pinkertons in popular culture, especially Western movies.

Pinkerton was an able self-publicist

Allan Pinkerton was born in the infamous Gorbals district of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1819. He was a cooper by trade and was a supporter of the Chartist movement and also a lifelong atheist. He married a singer and emigrated to the US in 1842, aged 23. He built a cabin in Dundee, Illinois and set up in the barrel trade. He was a keen abolitionist and his home was said to be a stop on the Underground Railroad. Later, in 1859, he would attend secret meetings held by John Brown and Frederick Douglass in Chicago and was evidently a keen supporter of Brown.

He is supposed to have first become involved in criminal detective work when he came across a band of counterfeiters, who may have been affiliated with the notorious Banditti of the Prairie. After observing their movements for some time he informed the local sheriff, who arrested them. This later led to Pinkerton being appointed, in 1849, as the first police detective in Chicago.

In 1850, he partnered with Chicago attorney Edward Rucker in forming the North-Western Police Agency, which later became Pinkerton & Co, and finally Pinkerton National Detective Agency (still in existence today as Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, a subsidiary of Securitas AB.) The company’s famous logo was an open eye with the caption "We never sleep."

In the 1850s, with the huge expansion of the railroad network, Pinkerton became a regular employee of the companies, and thus came into contact with George McLellan, the railroad engineer who would have a distinguished career as soldier and politician, and railroad lawyer Abraham Lincoln.

During the Civil War Pinkerton agents often worked undercover as Confederate soldiers and posed as sympathizers to gather military intelligence. Pinkerton himself served on several undercover missions using the alias Major EJ Allen. He worked across the Deep South, focusing on fortifications and Confederate plans. He was found out in Memphis and barely escaped with his life.

Allan Pinkerton at Antietam

After the war Pinkerton went back to working for the railroads, and when the investigation into the James gang went wrong, with Pinkerton men killed and the firebombing of the James home, the express companies abandoned the effort but Pinkerton continued hunting the Jameses at his own expense. He finally gave up the chase, though, and TJ Stiles, in his fine biography of Jesse James, considers this Pinkerton’s biggest defeat.

The later history of the Pinkertons is less glorious and even contradictory. Though a Chartist, keen to expand the franchise to the working man, a pro-labor man and a convinced abolitionist, Pinkerton accepted a job from the Spanish government in 1872 to help suppress a revolution in Cuba which aimed to end slavery and give citizens the vote.

What, never?

Pinkerton died in Chicago in 1884, according to one theory after stumbling on a sidewalk and biting his tongue, then gangrene set in. After his death, the agency, run by Allan’s sons William and Robert, increasingly operated against the labor movement and this changed the image of the Pinkertons for years. Episodes such as the Homestead Strike of 1892 in Pittsburgh, which was the direct impetus for the Anti-Pinkerton Act of 1893, prohibiting the federal government from hiring its detectives, the Pullman Strike of 1894, and the Ludlow Massacre of 1914 were, by our standards, disgraceful actions and it is difficult to see how Allan Pinkerton would have condoned them.

Back in the world of the Western, though, the agency established field offices in the West, notably in Denver, and it was from here that the Pinkertons worked on detecting the crimes perpetrated by the Wild Bunch in the 1890s and early 1900s. Charlie Siringo and Tom Horn were both Pinkerton employees working on aspects of the case. There is a (highly fictional) account of Tom Horn tracking down the Wild Bunch (Rod Cameron as Kid Curry is their boss) in Fox’s entertaining (but historically absurd) Dakota Lil in 1950.

Siringo was a Pink

...as was Tom Horn

In Episode 11 of Yancy Derringer, Yancy is falsely accused of complicity in a waterfront property theft. Administrator Colton manages to get Pinkerton man Matthew Younger (Mark Roberts) to drop the charges.

In Republic’s Hell’s Crossroads (1957) the lawman on the trail of the James gang is aided by Pinkerton man Barton MacLane. In Universal’s The Lone Hand (1953) Joel McCrea’s son witnesses a murder as the wicked Varden brothers (Alex Nicol and James Arness) shoot a Pinkerton man in the back, and that sets the story going.

That's Pinkerton man Barton on the right

Jim Arness prepares to shoot a Pinkerton

In The Long Riders (1980) James Whitmore Jr. is rather good as the Pinkerton man: his steely determination counterbalances nicely the driven Jesse.

In the 2007 anniversary remake of 3:10 to Yuma, Pinkerton man Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) is a repellent bad guy.

It’s still happening. In Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts (2013) badman Ricky Schroeder is pursuing glam Katherine Isabelle. He finally catches up with her and it seems her fate is sealed but fortunately for her there is a Pinkerton man (Ryan Robbins) in the saloon and she surrenders to him to avoid a fate worse than death or, er, death. In Five Grand in 2016 (known as The Gunfighter in Canada and England) the badman (Orson Ossman) is pursued by Pinkerton agent (Chris Voss).

Voss is a Pinkerton on the trail

This list is far from exhaustive. You will many a Western with Pinkerton agents in it, more often than not as not very savory characters. And you will find Westerns with detectives who are not Pinkertons. But the Chicago agency had a big impact, and in fact the word almost became a generic one for private eye, much as Biro has for ball-point pens or Hoover for vacuum cleaners.

But enough of vacuum cleaners. In the next post we’ll be back to Westerns, as is only right and proper.

Allan Pinkerton's tomb in Chicago