Stagecoach

StagecoachYou find the most interesting things in old, classic movies … if you pay attention. Take John Ford’s iconic western Stagecoach.

On a stagecoach to Lordsberg there is a fine collection of passengers Chaucer would have been proud to represent: the whore, the pregnant patrician, the gambler, the whiskey drummer, the drunken doctor, the wise Marshal, the feisty driver, and the Ringo Kid who just busted out of prison and is planning to get his revenge on the naughty boys who framed him. Oh, I forgot: there is also the town banker, Gatewood, who unbeknownst to the other travelers has stolen the $50,000 payroll from his own bank (boo, hiss).

Now with the trouble being caused by Geronimo, the calvary escort must leave the stagecoach without protection for the next leg of the trip. Gateway is incensed: he demands that the Army stay but the Lieutenant in charge waves goodbye after trumping Gatewood’s bluster with direct orders from the Lieutenant’s superior officer.

Stagecoach was made in1939 and I’m not certain of the politics of either the writers or the director, but Gatewood’s hectoring in a following scene struck me as just as representative of the reactionary plutocracy today as it was 75 years ago.

l don’t know what the government is coming to. lnstead of protecting businessmen, it pokes its nose into business. Why they’re even talking now about having bank examiners. As if we bankers don’t know how to run our own banks! At home l actually have a letter from a popinjay official … saying they were going to inspect my books!

l have a slogan that should be placed on every newspaper in the country. America for Americans!

The government must not interfere with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking! Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a businessman for president.

MillI suspect you have heard this kind of rhetorical pollution from conservatives and Republicans for years. But if you remember that Gatewood, the friendly neighborhood banker, has the stolen payroll in his little black bag, you might see the connection (it is also recommended that you always check your wallet in the presence of the GOP).

Guard your wallet and guard your vote. Remember, the dark forces cannot win if you simply vote!

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