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Western films, from silent to today

You Know My Name (1999)

You Know My Name (1999) DVD coverReal-life story of Bill Tilghman, a lawman who rode with the Earps, helped hunt down countless bad men, then decided to make accurate silent film versions showing outlaws as the scoundrels they really were.

As the film opens, Tilghman’s asked to help clean up a new batch of scoundrels in a 1920s oil boom town called Colton. The boot-legging, whoring and corruption has gotten so bad, town leaders decide they need the most well-known Old West lawman still around to clean up the mess.

Tilghman takes the job against the misgivings of his wife, Zoe (Carolyn McCormick) and soon finds his major nemesis is a federal agent named Wiley Lynn (Arliss Howard), whose mind is addled by an old-fashioned form of cocaine. He’s profiting from the boot-legging and doesn’t hesitate to gun down his enemies and drop them into a vat of oil.

So while ridding the town of its ladies of the night and its two-bit criminals proves pretty easy for the new law in town, cracking down on the bootleggers is going to prove more difficult. And if Wiley can’t keep Tilghman in line, there’s a businessman named Killian who can import assistance from back East to help on that front.

Rating 4 out of 6Review:

Decent variation on the clean-up-the-town theme, with Elliott solid as always and Howard turning in a twisted performance as the villain of the piece.

One of the film’s most memorable scenes comes when Wiley “loses it” and threatens to suck out his partner Killian’s brains through his nose, Indian style. Of course, Elliott’s Tilghman is tough as nails, too. He gets one baddie to tell the truth by threatening to hang him with barbed wire.

Thanks to the 1920s setting, Elliott finds himself being chased by gangsters riding in vehicles (not on horses), firing at him with machine guns and dropping their bootleg goods via airplane. And as a neat touch, he uses his position in Colton to force people to watch his movie, which has been rejected by Hollywood because it doesn’t star someone like Tom Mix.

In real life, this represented the last job for Tilghman as a lawman. And, as of 2015, it also marked the last of more than a dozen Westerns in which Elliott appeared. Among other faces Western fans might recognize is James Gammon as Arkansas Tom, a reformed outlaw who helps with Tilghman’s film and speaks out against the lawless life.

Natalia Rey plays Rose, Wiley’s favorite whore. She runs a high-class social palace she’s afraid Tilghman will try to shut down. Sheila McCarthy plays the soft-soften wife who endures Wile’sy abuse.

Directed by:
John Kent Harrison

Cast:
Sam Elliott … Bill Tilghman
Arliss Howard … Wiley Lynn
Carolyn McCormick … Zoe Tilghman
James Gammon … Arkansas Tom
R. Lee Ermey … Marshal Evan Nix
James Parks … Alibi Joe
Sheila McCarthy … Mrs. Lynn
Natalia Rey … Rose
Jonathan Young … Hugh Sanders
Walter Olkewicz … Killian

Runtime: 94 min.

Memorable lines:

Zoe Tilghman, when Bill offers her a new horse because he’s about to take the Colton job against her wishes: “I don’t need another horse’s ass if I’m already living with one.”

Bill Tilghman, to a young man being careless with a gun: “I never killed a man I didn’t have to. Just hate seeing a man’s face when he dies. Way it changes from being a person to a thing. Ever seen that?”

Bill Tilghman: “I do appreciate your fine opinions, Mr. Lynn. Popping up there like mushrooms on a manure pile.”

Evan Nix: “You gotta get out of this, Bill. I’ve smelled stinkers in my time. And this is higher than a mad dog’s privates. Bill, you hearing me?”
Bill Tilghman: “Man’s gotta stick up for who he is, Evan. Things he believes in. Otherwise, what’d God put him here for.”

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