Coming from the armories of film studios, including 20th Century Fox, Stembridge Gun Rentals, RKO and MGM, all of which sold their firearms inventories between 1970 and 2000, the guns used in the film belong to Al Frisch, one of the film’s producers. Al’s search through Stembridge’s rental agreements reveals the film history of a number of guns in his collection, turning the run-of-the-mill shooting irons used in Vengeance Trail into motion picture icons.
Having played the hard-riding stage-coach robber in this Oater, I worked with some of these noteworthy smokewagons. In a scene where I galloped after the coach with my horse’s reins in my teeth, firing two Peacemakers, one of my
Colts was previously used by Marlon Brando in the classic flick One Eyed Jacks. The other six-gun I blazed away with was a Colt sometimes rented to none other than John Wayne, as a duplicate to his famous ivory stocked Single Action Army (Al replaced the grips on this gun for the film).
Speaking of the Duke, for another scene during which I fan off several quick shots, Frisch provided me with the hogleg that Wayne had actually fanned in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Talk about a thrill! Another Wayne shooting iron in Vengeance Trail was the stagecoach guard’s sawed-off 12 gauge scattergun—rented to Wayne for his hit, Big Jake.
One of my fellow robbers did his dirty work with an 1861 Remington Army cartridge conversion revolver (using .38 caliber movie blanks)—used by Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider. Later in the story, another character brandishes an Uberti replica of the 1847 Colt Walker—one of Eastwood’s hand artillery in his unforgettable The Outlaw Josey Wales. The film also utilizes a Spencer carbine that saw service in Josey Wales.
Vengeance Trail’s male lead, Robert Kotecki, puts an 1876 Winchester to some grisly work throughout the story. This very same “Centennial Model” was one of the rifles packed by actor Steve McQueen in his last film, Tom Horn.
Besides the above-mentioned “star” guns, the DVD is full of period-correct frontier costumes, saddlery and hard-ware, including engraved and nickeled Colt Peacemakers, a pair of Cimarron Arms’ antique and engraved Colt clones, vintage Springfield trapdoors and Winchester ’73s. Even a unique and scarce brace of “Caliber .450” Webley Frontier Model double-action revolvers (circa 1880s) see action in the hands of Stephanie Northrup, the sagebrush saga’s heroine, and her character’s abusive husband Carl Wolper.
Gun aficionados will also appreciate the half-hour bonus feature on movie guns, co-hosted by renowned Western actor Buck Taylor, producer Frisch and yours truly. Vengeance Trail is truly a firearms buff’s treasure trove DVD.
To order the Vengeance Trail DVD, visit westerncinema.com or call 661-670-0222. The movie was reviewed in our May/June 2003 issue.