Keeping It Real

real vs reel true west magazine
The above mash-up was my original idea for the cover, but several on the staff thought it looked too much like Frankenstein.

In my opinion, the folks in Hollywood get the facts right more often than most people give them credit for. That is the premise of our cover story on historically accurate Westerns. I believe our contributors have built a strong case that scenes or details in Westerns can be quite accurate. We love these moments, although we can’t all agree on the same ones.

One film, however, stands head and shoulders above almost everything else—for good reason.

Meanwhile, some history types still hold a palpable disdain for the “reel” West. Wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the sarcastic refrain, “Why don’t you change the name of your magazine to Reel West?”

I’ve always found this response amusing, since whenever I have gotten together with a group of scholars, the subject almost always turns to movies. As Paul Andrew Hutton points out in his masterful take (actually more of a takedown on my premise!), most of us came to the real West from the reel West.

Special thanks to Ben Glass, for granting us permission to publish his wonderful behind-the-scenes photos from Wyatt Earp.

I also want to thank John P. Langellier, for locating historic-looking shots from a wide variety of Western movies for our coverage.

billy the kid true west magazine
Emillio Esteves.

One final big thank you goes to John Fusco, for his personal take on Young Guns and for providing us with a good photo of Emilio Estevez assuming the famous Billy the Kid pose. It lines up pretty dang good with the original Kid tintype!

bob boze bell sig true west magazine

For a behind-the-scenes look at running this magazine, check out BBB’s daily blog.

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