MovieChat Forums > The Man from Laramie (1955) Discussion > Something that never made sense

Something that never made sense

I just watched this classic on Comcast. The Man From Laramie has always been one of my favorite westerns. One scene that I have never been able to understand is when Arthur Kennedy confronts Alex Nicol as Nicol is starting a fire to signal the Apaches. Arthur Kennedy throws a blanket on Nicol and Nicol reacts as if he was hit with a sledgehammer.


Is that all that was bothering you? I saw plot holes you could drive a wagon train through.

In particular, what was Vic thinking when he and Dave ordered 200 rifles for the Apaches, that he was so appalled when Dave signaled the Indians to come and get 'em? If he really thought it would be disastrous for the Indians to have all those rifles, why order them in the first place? If he'd had second thoughts afterwards, why collect prepayment? It's clear that double-crossing the Apaches by collecting money and not delivering the goods would get you killed.

And if Vic really didn't want the Apaches to have the rifles, why then did he signal them himself to come to the rifle wagon after Dave is gone? Wouldn't it cause the very same wholesale massacre he said he was trying to prevent?

Couldn't the Apaches have easily climbed the hill and retrieved the rifles after they pushed the wagon over the cliff? And why would they not kill Lockhart as well as Vic, for attempting to keep the guns from them?

How about that no white man would have been jailed based on an Indian's testimony in that time and place, and the Indian would certainly have at least been held as a material witness or suspect, if he weren't lynched outright as the killer of Chris Bolt? Oh, and who killed Bolt, anyway?

(Let's not even get into the improbability of the shopkeeper girl being so appealingly modest about her looks, when as the only young white woman in town she would have been constantly flattered and courted by every one of the dozens of single men around who wasn't related to her, engagement be damned.)

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed the movie in general. But the plotting was unbelievably sloppy.



1)I'm pretty sure the padre specifically mentions that two Pueblos are getting married.
2)Maybe whites didn't want to attend a church that catered to Indians and Mexicans. Leaving you to think O'Donnell and Kennedy are pretty liberal and that there's a white Christian church elsewhere in the area.
10) Yes, Charlie simply disappears. Sort of like Col. Pickering at the end of MY FAIR LADY.
"May I bone your kipper, Mademoiselle?"


2)Maybe whites didn't want to attend a church that catered to Indians and Mexicans. Leaving you to think O'Donnell and Kennedy are pretty liberal and that there's a white Christian church elsewhere in the area.

Or, more likely, that Barbara and, perhaps, Vic are Catholic and most of the whites are Protestant. The Pueblos were mainly Catholic and it's definitely a Catholic church because Barbara calls the priest padre.


"1 What was going on in the crowded church courtyard"

I actually thought they were having a wedding ceremony practice because Van made a comment about wearing his wedding suit. This makes it all the more strange when later in the movie after Van has been killed, Barbara doesn't appear the least bit concerned.

"6 Dave's plan to distribute all the rifles to the Apaches in order to seize power makes no sense. It's utterly self-destructive. He'd in all probability lose the ranch and possibly his life should the Apaches go to war. Was he purely loco?"

Van actually says much the same to him, yet they still sold them (prepaid) to the Apaches. It's seems to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right was doing and we the audience are caught in the middle. I think Van's plan differed in that he only wanted to sell them a few at a time, but even that doesn't make much sense if they paid for 200. It's kind of akin to being a little bit pregnant.

It's a pity because I felt the performances by the cast were uniformly strong and as a western it did have a certain style and original approach. But the underlying narrative is as you say "unsatisfyingly muddled" and lessens the film greatly.


The blanket in the face is just "Overacting". He needed a reason to disarm him. He just inhales some smoke when he does it. It reminds me of one of the "Naked Gun" movies. Some one throws a hand towel at Leslie Nielson's face and he acts like it is battery acid.


During the twenty or so minutes I watched this film today, the number of ridiculous moments made me never want to see this film.

When Dave decides to signal the Apaches that he wants to arm them, he makes a fire with what appears to be about five branches and a match. He has a fire going in no time. Then he take a blanket and tries to make signals with his one good hand, but it looks like there's no real signal. By the way, why does he take an unloaded rifle from the wagon before starting the fire? Oh, I know--so the viewer can see there are rifles in those boxes. Great exposition.

Just before that, Dave has his men hold James Stewart's character, so he can shoot him in the hand. Stewart's hand is directly in front of one man's gut when he blasts him.


you are CORRECT, sir! same here, liked this film, but the writers were idiots.. westerns aren't science fiction, it's easy for them to be rational, not far-fetched like some of this.. Mann and Stewart deserve better than this.. down one point on rewatch, from 8 to 7

My only regret in life is that I'm not someone else - Woody Allen


Stupid & crazy is a lethal combination in an idiot. Combine those traits with a jealous moron & everyone in this movie shouldn't even get out of bed in the morning. Dave Waggoman thought he was invincible. Part of his crazy I guess.

I thought the scene where he gets up on the wagon with the guns was funny. He took off all the tree limbs. All he had to do was break open the crate he did break open from the ground to get a rifle.

The Oracle (ominously): "Everything that has a beginning, has an end." Even time 🇺🇸


Besides the holes in the plot, I have a question about location:
I have lived in Santa Fe New Mexico for about 10 years now and there is a film ranch about 8 miles further on from where we live (The Evans Film Ranch just beyond the historic village of Galisteo). The history of the ranch was recently given in the local paper and they said one of the earliest films made there was The Man From Laramie (1955). Consequently, I have viewed the film many times to try and make out the various locations. The film ranch was expanded greatly for the film Silverado with Kevin Kline and Kevin Costner (it is said that this part was Kevin Costner's pay-back from director Lawrence Kasdan for being cut out of The Big Chill). Much of the ranch was burnt to the ground during the filming of The Wild Wild West and since it was re-built countless westerns for both film and TV have been filmed there (the most recent was Edge, a pilot for a forthcoming TV western paying homage to the Spaghetti Western). Anyway the main location filmed at the ranch was the old man's ranch, The Barb. The old lady's ranch (the woman who wanted to hire Stewart) was a ranch that
lies just north of the village of Galisteo and is not part of the Evan's Film Ranch. I am not sure where the salt flats sequence was filmed, but since a disclaimer at the very beginning of the film said it was filmed entirely in New Mexico, I am thinking these scenes were filmed at the White Sands Monument in the southwestern part of NM about 200 miles from Santa Fe - you may remember the scene in Silverado where Kevin Kline is set upon by a bad guy and is left only with his long johns - that was filmed at White Sands (White Sands is also the Trinity a-bomb site). The main location that I am wondering about was the town of Coronado. It is too authentic in most of it's details to not have been filmed in one of the NM Pueblos. Hollywood at this point just couldn't have made anything that authentic looking. I think there were additions
to the existing Pueblo done to make it look more town-like, but I think it really was one of our Pueblos. I believe someone has said it was Taos, but the mountains behind are not tall enough and knowing the Taos Pueblo as I do, I do not think they would have allowed such extensive filming to be done there (read Pueblo Revolt and you may get some feeling for the attitude of many of the Pueblos toward us Anglos). The mountains in the distance look like the Truchas Peaks so Peoblo they used may have been the Truchas Pueblo or the Picuris Pueblo. Can anyone shed some light on this?


After writing my first addition, I saw that there are 6 filming locations listed. After reviewing these, I am questioning where this info is coming from - we are given no attributions here. I question some of these locations for the following reasons:

Bonanza Creek Ranch - The Bonanza Creek Ranch did not exist as a filming location in 1955. I believe whoever put this
location list together, mixed up the Bonanza Creek Ranch with the Evans Film Ranch. The Evans
Film Ranch, probably because it is larger and affords much better views, is used much more
by film companies than Bonanza Creek Ranch.

Window Rock Arizona - I question this since a disclaimer at the beginning of the credits says the movie was filmed
entirely in New Mexico. Also, after viewing the movie several times with an eye for locations, I
can see nothing that looks like the Window Rock area. If there is someone out there that can
tell me otherwise, please, please respond.

Taos Pueblo - This is another case where I think someone says "Oh, that look like the Taos Pueblo" and it becomes
written in stone. The Tesuque Pueblo is listed later as a location site, and I do think that pueblo was
the one used as the town of Coronado. The mountains in the background would correspond with the
Truchas Peaks area. The town of Coronado, if you look closely, is much too authentic in its details to
have been a Hollywood construct. I believe they used the Tesuque Pueblo (just a few mile north of
Santa Fe) and made some additions to make it more town-like. From my knowledge of the Taos pueblo,
I do not think they would have allowed such extensive filming in 1955.

If there is someone out there that tell me how this location list was put together or has any ***first-hand*** knowledge
about the filming locations, could you please respond.