How did all those dusty cowboys and dubiously principled bandits manage to get in good with the feisty beauties of the Old West? The following formula is one employed by plenty of movie cowboys, and it seems to work:
1. Show up in town filthy and disheveled. Be on the run from the law or bandits, or on a mission to prove a point about who’s boss.
2. Find the prettiest girl in town and behave like a lout. Pin her down and try to kiss her. You can also insult her character in some way, especially if she works in a saloon.
3. She’ll slap, punch or shoot you (only a surface wound), but just wait — you’ve got her hooked.
4. Wait for her to come around… then ride away into the sunset.
It worked for John Wayne in Rio Bravo : The Duke first accused Angie Dickinson’s character of cheating at cards, but even took the trouble of changing his shirt to impress her. Lawman Jimmy Stewart earns Marlene’s
Dietrich’s admiration despite insulting and disapproving of her saloon singer character in Destry Rides Again . And in Yellow Sky,
Gregory Peck pursues Mike (Anne Baxter), a Levis-clad,
shotgunning-packing beauty. The first time she punches him across the
jaw, Mike’s grandfather chuckles and tells Peck, she’s “tough as a pine
Mike’s toughness is undeniable. She lives with just her grandfather in Yellow Sky,
an abandoned gold town, has a mean aim with
a shotgun and a wicked punch. She’s also good at field dressings and
digging bullets out of wounds. But she melts for Peck in way that
doesn’t totally make sense, but then, cowboy love seldom does.