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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

1906 Feminism at Sixes and Sevens

Old Henry on IMDb

Plot Overview

plowingOld Henry McCarty (Tim Blake Nelson) is “just a farmer” working a homestead with his teen son Wyatt (Gavin Lewis) in the Oklahoma territory in 1906. Trouble comes knocking in the form of Woods County [?] “Sheriff” Sam Ketchum (Stephen Dorff) who notices that Henry ain't “got the talk of a mild old sod­buster” and that “he didn't hold that pistol like any farmer I've ever seen.” While Ketchum thinks “there's more to old McCarty than meets the eye,” Henry him­self narrates, “It can be hard to tell who or what a man is he's got a mind to convince you otherwise.”

tombstoneIn a Western there may be gunslingers galore made according to a writer's imagination. Then there be the legendary ones grounded in historical fact, though their stories get a mite embellished. If their names are big enough, we recognize them from prior literature and media. Here we know that McCarty is his real name as his wife is buried under it and his brother-in-law Al Hobbs (Trace Adkins) had scoped him out before they'd wed. If it doesn't ring a bell, then either he didn't make it as far as the dime novels, or we haven't seen enough Westerns. A Peter Lyon piece informs us:

Sheriff Pat Garrett … shot and killed the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. It was July 14, 1881. Henry McCarty, alias William Bonney, alias The Kid, was not yet twenty-two. ¶And now the fun began. [There follows a list of magazine articles, dime novels, books, and plays about him.] In one sense, it is, of course, perfectly true that Billy the Kid did not die. He is the most imperishable of our folk heroes. (79–80)


Which translation is God's word?Early in the movie Henry and his kid are having a vigorous discussion of Wyatt's objections to a hard farmer's life with little to show for it. Henry now being a Bible thumper quotes: “By wisdom is a house built and through under­standing is it established. Through knowledge are its rooms filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” That's from the New Inter­national Version (NIV) whose Old Testament wasn't trans­lated until 1978—a stand-alone Proverbs came earlier. The King James Version (KJV) prevalent across the land in 1906 would read, (Prov. 24:3-4) “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by under­standing it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” The main difference is “chambers filled with all precious and pleasant riches” instead of “rooms filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” The American Standard Version (ASV) published 1901 would read the same as the KJV in this depiction.

butcherThe KJV “all precious and pleasant riches” would include the tasty hog Henry was butchering and about to smoke, the root cellar filled with vegetables to a make soup for their guest, all the furnishings and the silver­ware. Alternately, the NIV “rare and beautiful treasures” would include the satchel of cash Henry finds on the ground, with a loaded pistol, the “handsome” stranger Curry (Scott Haze) they take into their home to nurse to health, the pretty tattoos right hand on the arms of Ketchum's men, and the dove he's whittling. Diamonds are a girl's best friend.

The NIV was copyrighted: 1973, 1978 & 1984, a time when our English language under­went deliberate modification due to problems (some) women had relating to men. Said Rush Limbaugh, “It's almost as if America went through its own feminist Cultural Revolution in the 1970s and early 1980s. Every­thing went mad for about ten years, and only now [1992] are we seeing young people who now view those years as some­what bizarre” (191). Since this movie provides no mechanism for moving the feminist Bible back in time, the obvious plot point would be that literacy was in short supply in the McCarty house­hold. The house­wife Marie imperfectly quoted the treasure verse and after she passed, the men­folk kept repeating it that way. Eventually Wyatt moves on and becomes a preacher who is heard by someone on the NIV trans­lation committee. Since theirs is a “dynamic trans­lation,” i.e. idea for idea, as opposed to formal equivalence, i.e. word for word, the saying sticks.

cockSince the Hobbs home is the next one over from the McCartys, they would have both settled under the Oklahoma Home­stead Act when Marie was in her twenties. The piano that graces the McCarty house unplayed, like the proverbial elephant in the room, says she was likely a saloon girl before her family moved there. She had trouble with men who took advantage of her love for baubles, and that is why her brother Al was strongly protective of her. Both she and Henry had a checkered past, so the Hobbs brothers couldn't hold too much against Henry. Marie Hobbs-McCarty used a hyphenated last name as later popularized by the feminists.

The feminists are much concerned with labor management, men's and women's. Traditionally, men hunt and women dress the game. Here Henry dresses it, as did Ketchum when he was younger. Wyatt is not allowed to hunt (or handle firearms.) Until recently he was ignorant of his father's infamous past. Now he must set off into the world, one very confused lad. The movie does not spell it all out, but it leaves plenty of room for speculation.

Production Values

” (2021) was written and directed by Potsy Ponciroli. It stars Tim Blake Nelson, Scott Haze, Gavin Lewis and Stephen Dorff. Nelson as the lead does an out­standing job, with good support from all the rest. Wild Indians would be less scary.

It's not rated but contains no swearing, sex, or nudity. There is a side­ways shot of a slaughtered hog. There's wonderful cinema­tog­raphy from John Matysiak. Since it's a low budget film a lot of it is night shots when one can't see much any­way. It's got a crafty plot.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

puzzled kidsChristian parents with shady pasts leave a teenage boy confused about his place in the world which should be well defined in the West. The brutal action in this episode can't help but add to his trauma. He'll fade off into the sunset with hope and a prayer. This movie is pretty much what you want to make of it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action episodes. Suitability for children: Not rated. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

When noted, scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Print.

Limbaugh, Rush. The Way Things Ought To Be. New York: Pocket Books, 1992. Print.

Lyon, Peter. “The Wild, Wild West.” Copyright © 1960, 1969 by Peter Lyon. Originally appeared in American Heritage, August, 1960. Reprinted by permission in Stephen B. Oates. Portrait of America Vol. II. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973. Print.