My book Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters, and Fighting Techniques is available from Paladin Press. This blog contains additional information about the bowie knife, as well as the fighting knives of other nations.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Worst Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie Ever

A lot of people considered it sacrilegious to cast Jeff Bridges as True Grit's Rooster Cogburn, a role made famous by John Wayne; how dare the Dude stand in for the Duke? I thought Bridges did a credible job, but here's my beef: casting Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett, a role filled by John Wayne in The Alamo (1960). Thornton made as sorry a Davy Crockett as I could imagine, short of putting Philip Seymour Hoffman in the part. Thornton plays a great loser in films like Bad Santa, but it is impossible to see him as a charismatic leader-of-men like Crockett.

That said, Thornton's Davy Crockett had his equal in Jason Patric's lackluster Jim Bowie. The first few seconds of this clip from The Alamo (2004) shows Crockett examining Bowie's knife. (Excuse the Chinese subtitles.) Neither actor comes off as a fighter. In fact, both look like they'd burst into tears if someone gave them a good shove.



Here's a list of actors who played Bowie over the years, leaving out a few insignificant television portrayals. I haven't seen many of these films, but of the ones I have, actors Scott Forbes, Richard Widmark, and Sterling Hayden struck me as quite adequate for the role.
Alfred Paget, Martyrs of the Alamo (1915)
Hal Taliaferro, The Painted Stallion (1937)
Roger Williams, Heroes of the Alamo (1937)
Robert Armstrong, Man of Conquest (1939)
Macdonald Carey, Comanche Territory (1950)
Alan Ladd, The Iron Mistress (1952)
Stuart Randall, The Man from the Alamo (1953)
Sterling Hayden, The Last Command (1955)
Jeff Morrow, The First Texan (1956)
Scott Forbes, The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1956-1958, TV)
Richard Widmark, The Alamo (1960)
Michael Beck, Houston: The Legend of Texas (1986, TV)
James Arness, The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory (1987, TV)
Steve Sandor, Alamo: The Price of Freedom (1988)
David Keith, Texas (1994, TV)
Peter Coyote, Two for Texas (1998, TV)
Jason Patric, The Alamo (2004)

1 comment:

  1. Certainly the Worst Looking Davy Crockett was the scarecrow they cameo'd in The Last Command, conceivably to make sure that his presence did not outshine Sterling Hayden's Bowie, particularly since Fess Parker had recently appeared as Crockett in the Disney Hit Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier and became iconic overnight. But I think The Last Command went too far to downplay Crockett's image in favor of leading man Bowie's.

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