In 2007, I attempted to write a hardboiled crime novel; one that was to be easily adaptable for film. Two years prior, just for fun, I had devised three short essays on different genre pictures using real directors and actors, but which did not exist. The first one was a 1970s Euro crime thriller, which I used as the model for my project. I kept the name and borrowed most of the scenes I had described, but relocated the story to the American South, having been prompted to do so by a dream I suspect was spurred on by my first viewing of Walking Tall (1973), which had started the whole venture.
In between breaks, I decided to partially gather inspiration from a genre which had excited so many of my favorite filmmakers, but which I had not thoroughly familiarized myself with: the American Western. Researching carefully before choosing which titles to sit through (predominantly films from the 1930s up until the early 60s), I fell madly in love with what the genre had to offer cerebrally. And so, as I continued writing The Superkiller, I began sketching out a Western of my own. The idea had actually been swimming in my head for years, having originally been conceived upon being told of a true story concerning a male rape victim’s attack. The notes for my Western began to overtake the time I was spending on my novel until I finally caved in and spent the following five months, or so, working on that story instead. And I’m glad I did. I hope you enjoy it.
For the free PDF file of Pick Up the Gun, My Son, click the image below. You can also read it at scribd.com.
Here are ten underappreciated favorites of the period that influenced this story.
- 3 Godfathers (1948) Dir: John Ford, Cast: John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz
- Canyon Passage (1946) Dir: Jacques Tourneur, Cast: Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy
- Devil’s Doorway (1950) Dir: Anthony Mann, Cast: Robert Taylor, Paula Raymond
- Man Without a Star (1955) Dir: King Vidor, Cast: Kirk Douglas, Claire Trevor
- No Name on the Bullet (1959) Dir: Jack Arnold, Cast: Audie Murphy, Charles Drake
- Rancho Notorious (1952) Dir: Fritz Lang, Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy
- Stars in My Crown (1950) Dir: Jacques Tourneur, Cast: Joel McCrea, Dean Stockwell
- Tribute to a Bad Man (1956) Dir: Robert Wise, Cast: James Cagney, Irene Papas
- Warlock (1959) Dir: Edward Dmytryk, Cast: Henry Fonda, Anthony Quinn
- Yellow Sky (1948) Dir: William A. Wellman, Cast: Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark
And here’s one highly regarded masterpiece which you should see, if you haven’t already.
- Winchester ’73 (1950) Dir: Anthony Mann, Cast: James Stewart, Dan Duryea