How Come They Don’t Simply Open the Windows? A Film Maven’s Dialogue

Earlier today, my husband the movie maven wrote me and a few of his old TV pals. He had a question, perhaps one that has long needed answering. Given the cost and scarcity of panes of glass in Ye Olde West, how come instead of breaking all the glass before shooting, why didn’t they open the windows? Following is the actual dialogue of leading movie experts.

Here’s the dialogue:

Garry (Chief Movie Maven and Former TV Journalist): Surprise!! I’m watching an old “High Chaparral” episode: ( A) Why do they always break the windows before the shootouts? Couldn’t they open the window first? Glass was expensive! ( B) How come the guys stationed on rooftops always get shot first in those shoot outs? – Big John Cannon

Marilyn (Blogger Supreme and Former Writer of Books Nobody Ever Read): I never thought about the windows. Not only are they expensive, but they’d be pretty hard to get. I mean, did they make that stuff on the ranch? Or did they have to haul it from back east?

Texas Tom

Texas Tom (Retired Famous TV Anchor): This reporter is nowhere near the movie expert that you are. However, my sense is they always break the windows for (first of all) the visceral sound effect of the breaking and shattering glass, which  also is a much stronger macho gesture than simply opening a window. Besides, opening the  window just might require one or two more seconds than smashing the glass, which can be interpreted as an act of absolute crazed panic and desperation, and also shows the blood curdling anger and hostility of the glass breaker’s killer instinct. As for always shooting the guys on the roof first, my sense again runs to the most bang for the moment answer. Having a stunt man tumble a story or two from a roof, balcony, overhang or whatever has a much more visceral (there’s that word again) impact on the  viewer’s brain and gut than simply shooting a guy standing  in front of you, or  on the same level with you.  It’s a much more dramatic way of saying “this is the real deal here”.  – T. Texas Tom: Champion Cap Gun Fighter of the Entire West

Garry: Damn, you are so much more cerebral than me. You sound more like a Pilgrim than a Texican. Mebbe it’s because we’re on a fixed income that I wince when they just break the windows rather than opening them to spray lead. That’s another thing. You would think they would be more economical with their bullets. Let the bad guys use up their ammo and shoot when you have a clear target. I guess the Duke would be pissed if he heard this austerity rant.

Jordan (Well-Known Radio Talk-Show Host): Do you think they only manufactured breakaway glass and furniture back in the old west?  Thought stuff back then was made to last?

Marilyn: You’d think the chairs would collapse if you sat in them. Balsa must be sturdier than I thought.

Garry: Yeah, I used to laugh my ass off at the six shooters that never ran out of bullets. Also, Roy, Gene and our other heroes being chased by hordes of bad guys could shoot over their shoulder with precision and nail three bad guys with one bullet.

Texas Tom: Remember (of course you do) in the old Westerns with Hoot, Gene and Roy and Tex and those old guys would chase the bad guys and shoot for a whole reel without ever reloading?   We used to laugh about that never-ending stream of bullets … they never ever fired their last one.

Marilyn: No one ever went into town to buy bullets, either. They must have had an armoury somewhere. Even the Lone Ranger never told Tonto to go into town and buy some ammo. They only ran out of bullets if the script writer decided it was the time to heighten the tension.

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Marilyn Armstrong

A friend told me she never knows what I’m going to write about. It’s always a surprise. Truth is, I don’t know what I’m going to say until I say it either. I am always surprised. I love my computers and cameras, yet hate cell phones. Go figure. Serendipity is a very apt name. Whatever you aren't looking for, you'll find it here. I'm a reader, a photographer, amateur historian. I've been around a while, so I have an Old Person perspective thing happening. Which doesn't prevent me from having an insatiable hunger for gadgets, electronic toys, and traveling when we can.

7 thoughts on “How Come They Don’t Simply Open the Windows? A Film Maven’s Dialogue”

    1. Garry and his pals do this all the time … and the circle is growing. They’re all TV or radio people, current or retired — a mix of tech and talent — and they can be very funny. I get CC’d being as I’m only an honorary member. Collectively, they have a serious talent for talking drivel while sounding erudite. Sometimes, it just cracks me up. This was one of those times :-)

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  1. I love the back & forth dialogue of this post. They didn’t just open the windows because back then they stuck so you had to stand and use both hands to heft them open. This exposed their entire torso to gunfire. They shot the guys on the roof first because they held the high ground, given them the best field of fire. Also, they were the cheap hired hands on a ranch. You seldom saw the name brand actors on the roof. They sprayed bullets like they were on sale at K-mart because hand guns were not nearly as accurate as rifles, ask Chuck Conners why he was called “The Rifleman”? LOL Thanks for an entertaining post. Long live the twenty shooter pistol!

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