Tom Horn (1980)



Director:     William Wiard.

Starring:     Steve McQueen (Tom Horn), Linda Evans (Gendolene Kimmel), Richard Farnsworth (John C. Coble), Billy Green Bush (U.S. Marshal Joe Belle), Slim Pickens (Sheriff Sam Creedmore), Peter Canon (Assistant Prosecutor), Elisha Cook Jr. (Stablehand), Roy Jenson (Lee Medenhour), James Kline (Arlo Chance), Geoffrey Lewis (Walter Stoll), Harry Northup (Thomas Burke), Steve Oliver ('Gentleman' Jim Corbett), Bill Thurman (Ora Haley), Bert Williams (Judge), Bobby Bass (Corbett's Bodyguard).

legendary western figure Tom Horn, Apache fighter, runs into trouble with the law in Wyoming Territory



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

"He grew up in the violence of the Old West. He became a cowboy, rode shotgun for the stage lines, was an agent for the Pinkertons and fought with the Rough Riders under Teddy Roosevelt. He made his reputation as a cavalry scout by capturing Geronimo in the bloody Apache wars."

In 1901, he drifted into Wyoming Territory and the town of Hagerville.

Tom comes into town. He puts his horse in the stable and then goes into the bar to have a morning drink. On the way in, he notices a sign saying: "Gentleman Jim Corbett, Exhibition Tour". [James John "Gentleman Jim" Corbett (1866 1933) was an American professional boxer and a former World Heavyweight Champion, best known as the man who defeated the great John L. Sullivan in 1892. He lost the title in 1896 to Bob Fitzsimmons.]

The group around Corbett yell out to Tom calling him "Tex". They buy him a whiskey and then want him to toast to Corbett as the next World Heavyweight Champion. Tom suggests toasting to something else since Corbett has not won the title yet. He suggests they toast to Geronimo. He says something very rude: "Geronimo's a man so great that Corbett there'd have to stand on his mother's shoulders to kiss his ass." And later he says Corbett is acting like an asshole.

Long story short. Corbett knocks Tom out.

One of the cattle men, John C. Coble, recognizes the legendary Tom Horn and comes to see him in the stables. He invites Tom out to his ranch where he can stay until he has recovered. He then is going to offer him a job ". . . that suits both your ability and your quality".

The two men on their way to the Coble ranch stop at Brown's Hole to water their horses. Coble mentions that some of the cows in the coral there belong to him. The rustlers of his cows are there and they ask him if he wants to buy any of those cows? No, they are just getting water for their horses and will be moving on.

Part of the gang are musicians and they play, while the main trouble maker shoots at Mr. Coble's feet to make him dance. Suddenly, with his rifle in his hands, Tom shoots the chief trouble maker in the foot. The two men then ride out.

Tom starts work as a cowboy.

Coble tells Tom that he will accept and support any means necessary that Tom might use to eliminate the rustling problem out here. The man represents the ranchers' association.

Coble rides out to get Tom to come to the ranch house for a big barbecue. The boss wants Tom to meet the Association members, most of whom will be at the party.

At the dinner table, Coble introduces as "the legendary tracker and interpreter of the Apache wars", Tom Horn. Then Tom in introduced to men like Arlo Chance, Ora Haley and Ian McGregor.

The main dish for the dinner is lobster. Tom has never eaten lobster and he makes that very apparent from the start as he makes a real mess of it.

A pretty woman named Glendolene Kimmel looks at and smiles at Tom, but as of yet he hasn't noticed her. Tom keeps squirting lobster juice on his neighbors. Ora Haley starts telling Tom their problems. The rustlers have completely wiped out the herd profits. They also have a problem with homesteaders running sheep on their pastures.

Now Tom in introduced to Joe Belle, United States Marshal, and big admirer of Glendolene Kimmel. The Association men urge Tom to take a moment and speak with the marshal about the rustling situation. Joe Belle gives his blessings to the killing of the rustlers and bringing them in that way. Tom asks what's the difference then between a U.S. Marshal and an assassin? Joe says: "A Marshal's checks come in on time."

Glendolene comes over to talk to Tom. She says she teaches school. Shen then asks him how was it out there in Indian Territory? Tom says: "Lonely as hell."

Marshal Belle is a little jealous to Tom moving into his territory, so to speak. He tells Coble that he could handled that Brown's Hole situation all by himself. Coble says he knows that but the Association feels that Belle's political ambition are going to fit right in with their own future plans. It wouldn't do to possibly sully Belle's reputation by having him kill rustlers one after the other.

The party is over and Joe Belle takes Glendolene home in his buggy. Coble says goodbye to Tom, but before Tom goes, Coble tells him that neither Joe or he has these conversations with Tom..

Toms shows up at a cattle auction. He asks the sheriff to lock these men up as they are cattle rustlers. The marshal says no one is getting locked up today. So Tom tells the rustlers then they will have to deal with more or less on a one to one basis. The rustlers says they are going to kill Tom, stock detective. Tom is willing to take his chances.

The next day Tom comes after four rustlers. The four men take off running away from Horn and the cattle. The four men the break into two groups of two men. Tom shoots at one of the groups. The two rustlers turn their horses around and start coming directly at Tom. Tom gets off his horse.

He knells down and shoot on of the rustlers off his horse. The other rustlers just keeps coming. Tom shoots that man off his horse too. Now he goes after the two other rustlers.

The two rustlers left separate from each other. One rustler's horse falls while crossing a stream and the rustler is thrown off the horse. Tom passes by the cowboy on foot and goes after the one still on horseback. The guy gets up onto a ridge and starts prancing around with his horse figure he is too far away to get hit by a bullet from the stock detective. But Tom takes aim and shoots the man off his horse.

Now Tom has one man left with which to deal. The guy is socking wet. Tom slowly rides up behind him as the rustler walks calmly down the path. He tells the rustler to tells his buddies what he saw here today.

At night Tom comes to a rustler's corral. Another rustler is working there. He knows someone's coming and gets ready to fire his rifle. Tom shoots the man down from outside the corral fence. In the barn butchering beef is still another wrestler. He figures it's Horn out there and starts firing through the closed barn at the sound of any suspicious noises.

Tom goes up on the roof and drops down into the hay loft. After an exchange of shots, Tom kills the last rustler of the group.

Tom and some cowboys try to break a horse. Tom gets on top of the horse and controls him. He get off and another cowboy gets on. The horse wants this new guy off him and he bucks so hard that the cowboy jumps off himself. The horse starts running away from it and Tom yells for someone to stop that horse.

After getting the horse back, Tom goes to the school house and brings the newly broken horse to Glendolene as a gift. Glendolene dismisses the class a little early. Now the two of them go horse-back riding. They stop for awhile, hug and kiss.

Tom now goes after a fellow named Lee. He sees Tom Horn riding up to his place and he gets down his pistol and puts it by his plat at the dinner table. He cocks the pistol and holds it under the table.

Tom comes riding up and through the window yells out that Lee is running Coble's cattle here. Lee acts like who cares about it. Tom asks him if he got his note telling him to get out of the area? Yeah, he did. Before Tom is ready the man shoots his horse from under the table. The horse starts to go down but Tom puts a bullet hole in Lee's forehead before the horse and he goes all the way down.

Tom is really mad at the man for killing his horse. He goes into the house and shoots him four more times. He then burns the cabin down.

Tom comes into town. The rustler who Tom shot in the foot takes out his gun and walks toward Tom. He starts shooting at him and Tom has to dodge his movements. He finally gets to his horse and pulls his rifle out;. His first shot hits the rustler and the fellow lands in the mud of the street.

Tom walks over to the guy and hears him moaning. He shoots the man in the back to finish him off. Now Tom walks into a restaurant. He wants to clean a grazing wound on his left forearm.

The Association men meet out on the open range one day. The feeling is that Tom has become a little bit too protective of the cattlemen. The guys are afraid that Tom is going to do something foolhardy and it will get the names of the Association people into the newspaper. The men fells it's time to divest themselves of Mr. Tom Horn.

A young man sits on the fence watching over his sheep. All of a sudden someone shoots the fellow off the fence.

Tom comes to town when snow is on the ground. When he comes into the local store, some guys tell him that the Nolt boy got killed. His name is Jimmy Nolt. He was shot with a .45-.60 rifle. Tom says that's what he shoots with. Now one of the men hands the newspaper to Tom to read the story.

Tom reads it as he walks his horse across the street. The livery man says that Jimmy Nolt's been killed. He puts Tom's new horse into the stable. Glendolene comes out and tells Tom that Jimmy Nolt has been killed. By this time Tom realizes that he is getting known now as a child killer. Glendolene tells him that the towns people think he was the one who did it. Tom decides to go into the bar and get a drink.

The marshal has a plant to get a confession from Tom. He is going to get Tom over to his office and the newpaper man will write down word for word what Tom says about the Jimmy Nolt slaying.

Joe goes over to talk with Tom. He says he has something to tell him but it would be quieter to do this in his office. Tom agrees to go with him.

In the office Joe tells Tom that he got a letter inquiring about hiring a good man who can handle himself and others and who could bring the cattle stealing to an end up there in the Big Moon territory. The marshal beats around the bush a little more and then finally says that the shot that brought down Jimmy was really quite the shot. It was 213 yards.

Tom asks what would they do to a guy who shot and killed a 15 year old boy with a Winchester? Marshal says: "I believe that man would have to die." Tom turns as he says: "Well, if I'd have killed that kid, it would have been the best shot I ever made and the dirtiest trick I ever done."

Men with rifles are patrolling the streets of town. These are the men with Sheriff Sam Creedmore. Another man walks right behind the sheriff. He walks right into the hotel bar and puts his shotgun right on the bar. Tom is there at the end of the bar and he says hello to the sheriff. Creedmore tells Tom that he has to arrest him for the murder of Jimmy Nolt. The sheriff brought some backup with him, as a man with another shot gun appears at the window behind Tom.

The man name Earl who walked behind the sheriff up to the bar now comes over to Tom and slowly takes the Winchester from him.

Tom comes along with them peaceably. They empty his pockets. He says he has some "Indian stuff" in his pockets. The sheriff takes him up to the second floor jail cells and puts Tom in one of them.

John Coble comes to see Tom. With him he has brought legal counsel. The lawyer's name is Thomas Burke. The lawyer informs him that they are bringing in a judge and swearing in a jury right now.

Tom remembers being free and with Glendolene. She soaks in her under garments in a very large tub. They kiss. The rustler that Tom let go once already, charges his horse at Tom. Tom runs and grabs his rifle and shoots the man down. He then bludgeons the man to death with the butt of his rifle. Glendolene gets blood splattered on her shoulders and face. Tom tells her to get dressed.

Tom asks the sheriff to give him the Indian charms that he had in his pockets. He says they are of sentimental value. The sheriff yells down to Earl to bring Tom's Indian stuff up here. Earl brings the charms up and is awfully curious about them. He asks Tom to show him how to work the powers of the charms. Tom says he will show him one day.

Coble comes to see Tom again. He tells him the prosecuting attorney will be Walter Stoll. They say the man is running for office and this trial will be a showcase for him. "He needs to hang you to get elected." Coble also tells Tom that he know Tom didn't kill that Nolt boy.

The trial starts today. The National Guard is there in force. Toms comes down in chains.

The newspaper man who took down what Tom said is the first witness. He testified wrongly that before Tom left the marshal's office, he said: "When I shot that kid it was the best shot I ever made and the dirtiest trick I ever did."

The second witness is Tom Horn. Tom takes the stand. Tom does not say that he was misquoted by the newspaper man. He says he was a little drunk at the time. He is so non-cooperative and non-responsive that it's almost like the guy has resigned himself to being hanged for the charge of murder.

Earl brings Tom a blanket for the cold night. Tom says he is going to set up his Indian charms under his bunk bed to see if he can change his lack of good luck lately. He also says he would really appreciate it if Earl would not look at the charms seutp. Earl easily agrees.

After Earl leaves, Tom sets up his bunk and then sets up the charms under the bed.

Te next morning, Earl comes in with coffee for Tom. He starts to wake Tom, but decides that he will first get a look at the setup of the charms. He can't see the whole set up standing up, so he kneels down to get a good look. Tom grabs him by the hair and bangs Earl's head very hard against the bars twice. Earl goes unconscious and Tom gets his keys. He lets himself out of the jail cell.

Tom walks downstairs. He checks around for any weapons, but all the weapons have been removed from the jail. Tom puts on Earl's hat and coat. A very young lawman comes into the jail and Tom captures him, using the jail key as a fake gun in the back of the young man. He walks out of the jail with the key in the fellow's back.

He goes to the store a the end of town and then knocks the young man out and starts walking across the open, arid area. An alarm bell rings and the lawmen on horses chase Tom down. The three lawmen start hitting Tom over and over again with their coiled ropes. Sheriff Creedmore comes to Tom's rescue. He shouts out: "You damn fools. What are you trying to do, kill him?"

The jury finds Tom guilty. He is to be hanged.

Tom remembers being with Glendolene. She says goodbye to him forever because she says she knows he's a bad man and will ruin her if she follows him and his ways.

A Mr. Julian comes to weigh Tom for the gallows. Creedmore tells Tom that now one wants to pull the lever on Tom. So Mr. Julian has designed a method where the trap door is operated by flowing water. On the platform, Tom's weight will activate a water valve that finally springs the trap. In other words, Tom will spring the hanging platform himself.

The next morning Tom is taken out of his cell to be hanged. He apologizes to Earl for busting his head so hard up against the jail bars. Tom is tied up and taken to the gallows. He stands on the platform. A noose his put around his neck. He tells Sheriff Creedmore: "Keep your nerve, Sam, because I'm going to keep mine."

The contraption is filled with water, Tom steps back onto the trap until the water bucket fills up and the trap drops.

"The story is done . . . I am proud to say that he was my friend always faithful and just. I am convinced, and I re-assert it to be true, that Tom Horn was guiltless of the crime for which he died." signed by John C. Coble, March 1, 1904, Bosler, Wyoming





Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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