In Old Arizona- The innovative movie that nearly didn’t get made due to a Jackrabbit.

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In Old Arizona is a 1928 American Western film directed by Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh, nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film, which was based on the character of the Cisco Kid in the story “The Caballero’s Way” by O. Henry, was a major innovation in Hollywood. It was the first major Western to use the new technology of sound and the first talkie to be filmed outdoors. It made extensive use of authentic locations, filming in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park in Utah, and the Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Mojave Desert in California. The film premiered in Los Angeles on December 25, 1928 and went into general release on January 20, 1929.

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Raoul Walsh was cast as the Cisco Kid, as well as being the director; but during a return drive to Los Angeles from Utah, a jackrabbit jumped through the windshield of Walsh’s car, with both the rabbit and the broken glass hitting Walsh in the face. (Safety glass was added to cars the following year.) The damage to Walsh’s right eye necessitated replacing him in the lead role, re-writing the script and re-shooting some scenes with a different director while Walsh recuperated; Walsh thereafter wore the eye patch for which he was known, and eventually lost the eye entirely. Some footage of Walsh, in chase scenes and long shots, remains in the film.

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In Old Arizona contributed to creating the image of the singing cowboy, as its star, Warner Baxter, does some incidental singing. Baxter went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.

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Other nominations included Best Director for Irving Cummings, Best Writing for Tom Barry, Best Cinematography for Arthur Edeson, and Best Picture.

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The One Eyed “bandits”

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This is not really a blog of bandits, it really is a blog about men like me.

Around this time 5 years ago I lost my right eye, well not completely. It shrunk after 2 failed retina re-attachments operations, and ever since I have lost all vision. I now have what’s called a Scleral Shell(ocular prosthetics) in front of the eye.

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When it happened I thought my wotld would cave in on me. Luckily to say it didn’t even not the retina getting detached in my left eye. Thankfully that operation was a success.

I was surprised to find out how many people have only one eye. Below is just a summary of the more famous one eyed “bandits” throughout history.

Horatio Nelson

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Horatio Nelson – (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805) Horatio was a British admiral and was one of the first to go against the conventional tactics of his time by cutting through the enemy’s lines in the Napoleonic Wars. Horatio became blind in one eye early in his Royal Navy career, he would use his blindness as cockiness during certain fights. In those days a retreat or surrender was shown via a system of signal flags, when friendly or enemy ships would display the flags Horatio would bring his telescope to his blind eye and say carry on with the attack, I see no signals.

 

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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Sammy Davis, Jr. — Lost his left eye in an car wreck in 1954. Depressed from the loss, he thought his career was over until his friend Frank Sinatra told him that that he was at a crossroads, that he could either fade away or overcome the loss and go on to greatness. Weeks later, at Sammy’s first public appearance since the crash, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and others made a surprise appearance on stage — all wearing eyepatches. After that, Sammy went on to be one of the great entertainers of all time, and a member of the famous “Rat Pack”

James Joyce

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Famous Irish Author who lost an eye and then went on to compose some of his greatest works. Author of: Dubliners, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake

Peter Falk

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Peter Michael Falk (September 16, 1927 – June 23, 2011) was an American actor, best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the long-running television series Columbo, which ran from 1968-2003

Born in New York City, Falk was the son of Michael Peter Falk (1897–1981), owner of a clothing and dry goods store, and his wife, Madeline (née Hochhauser; 1904–2003),an accountant and buyer.Both of his parents were Jewish,coming from Poland and Russia on his father’s side, and from Hungary and the Czechoslowakia on his mother’s side.

Falk’s right eye was surgically removed when he was three because of a retinoblastoma; he wore an artificial eye for most of his life. The artificial eye was the cause of his trademark squint. Despite this limitation, as a boy he participated in team sports, mainly baseball and basketball. In a 1997 interview in Cigar Aficionado magazine with Arthur Marx, Falk said: “I remember once in high school the umpire called me out at third base when I was sure I was safe. I got so mad I took out my glass eye, handed it to him and said, ‘Try this.’ I got such a laugh you wouldn’t believe.”

Raoul Walsh

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One of Hollywood’s most prolific and respected action directors, Raoul Walsh was also one of the longest-lived figures in film, with a career that spanned almost a half-century.

After running away from home as a boy and working in a variety of capacities, including as a cowboy in the West, Walsh drifted into stage acting in New York and later into motion pictures as an actor.

He became an assistant director to D.W. Griffith and, in 1914, made his first movie. By the mid 1920s, Walsh had a reputation for direct, straightforward, no frills narrative, and his style was particularly suited to action films and outdoor dramas, although his biggest film of that decade was the fantasy epic The Thief of Bagdad, produced by and starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr., which continues to be shown seven decades later.

In 1929 he had to give up the leading role of the Cisco Kid when a jackrabbit jumped through a windshield and he lost an eye.

His work in the 1930s, mostly for 20th Century-Fox, embraced comedy and drama in equal measure, but it was with Warner Bros., beginning at the end of the 1930s, that Walsh came into his own, directing such classics as The Roaring Twenties (1939), They Drive By Night (1940), High Sierra (1941), Desperate Journey (1942), and Northern Pursuit (1943), starring James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Errol Flynn

Ry Cooder

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Ry Cooder, born in Los Angeles in 1947, is a guitarist, composer and producer, though he gained his world-wide reputation primarily as a Slide-Guitarist.

He played in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, and has also accompanied such artists as Gordon Lightfoot, the Rolling Stones (Let it Bleed), Eric Clapton, Randy Newman, John Lee Hooker and many others.

Film scores have included Paris Texas, The Long Riders, and Trespass
The man behind the much praised Buena Vista Social Club.

He has been awarded two world music Grammies

” I’ll never forget it.”
Ry Cooder is talking about his first encounter with a guitar, more than 50 years ago. “The guitar was a three-quarter-size four-string tenor”. Cooder was 4 years old, well into a yearlong recuperation from an accident that had cost him his left eye.

“I took Ry Cooder for all I could get.” Keith Richards on Ry’s guitar technique.

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Forgotten History:Sergeant Leo Major-One Eyed Hero

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This man is true inspiration to me in a very personal way.Like me he had only the use of one eye, but unlike me he risked his life many times.

Leo Major was a French Canadian man born in 1921. He probably didn’t think he was going to be more of a hero than the average soldier when he joined up with the Canadian Army at the start of World War II—supposedly he simply joined up because he wanted to show his father, with whom he had a shaky relationship, that he could do something to be proud of.

Léo Major DCM & Bar (1921 – 12 October 2008) was a French Canadian soldier in the Régiment de la Chaudière in World War II.

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He was the only Canadian and one of only three soldiers in the British Commonwealth to ever receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice in separate wars.

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On the night of 13 April 1945, Major single-handedly liberated the city of Zwolle in the Netherlands from German army occupation.This action earned him his first Distinguished Conduct Medal. He received his second DCM during the Korean War for leading the capture of a key hill.

Major died in Longueuil on 12 October 2008 and was buried at the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. He was survived by: Pauline De Croiselle, his wife of 57 years; four children; and five grandchildren.

During a reconnaissance mission on D-Day, Major captured a German armoured vehicle (a Hanomag) by himself. The vehicle contained German communication equipment and secret German Army codes.

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Days later, during his first encounter with an SS patrol, he killed four soldiers; however, one of them managed to ignite a phosphorus grenade. After the resulting explosion, Major lost one eye but he continued to fight.

He continued his service as a scout and a sniper by insisting that he needed only one eye to sight his weapon. According to him, he “looked like a pirate”

Major single-handedly captured 93 German soldiers during the Battle of the Scheldt in Zeeland in the southern Netherlands.During a reconnaissance, whilst alone, he spotted two German soldiers walking along a dike. As it was raining and cold, Major said to himself, “I am frozen and wet because of you so you will pay.” He captured the first German and attempted to use him as bait so he could capture the other. The second attempted to use his gun, but Major quickly killed him. He went on to capture their commanding officer and forced him to surrender. The German garrison surrendered themselves after three more were shot dead by Major. In a nearby village, SS troops who witnessed German soldiers being escorted by a Canadian soldier shot at their own soldiers, injuring a few and killing seven. Major disregarded the enemy fire and kept escorting his prisoners to the Canadian front line. Major then ordered a passing Canadian tank to fire on the SS troops.

He marched back to camp with nearly a hundred prisoners. Thus, he was chosen to receive a DCM. He declined the invitation to be decorated, however, because according to him General Montgomery (who was giving the award) was “incompetent” and in no position to be giving out medals.

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In February 1945, Major was helping a Chaplain load corpses from a destroyed Tiger tank into a Bren Carrier.

 

 

 

After they finished loading the bodies, the padre and the driver seated themselves in the front whilst Major jumped on the back of the vehicle. The carrier soon struck a land mine. Major claims to have remembered a loud blast followed by his body being thrown into the air and smashing down hard as he landed on his back. He lost consciousness and awoke to two concerned medical officers trying to assess his condition. He simply asked if the Chaplain was okay. They did not answer, but loaded him onto a truck so he could be transported to a field hospital 30 miles (48 km) away, stopping every 15 minutes to inject morphine to relieve the pain in his back.

A doctor at the field hospital informed him that he had broken his back in three places, four ribs, and both ankles.Again they told Major that the war was over for him. A week went by and Major had the opportunity to flee. He managed to get a ride from a passing jeep that drove him to Nijmegen, a town where he had previously met a family. He stayed with that family for close to a month. He went back to his unit in March 1945. Technically, Pte Major would have been AWOA (Absent Without Authority). There is a lack of sources regarding how Major was able to avoid punishment.

 

In April 1945, Major’s regiment was approaching the city of Zwolle.  His commanding officers asked for two volunteers to do a reconnaissance run and report on the  number of German troops patrolling the city. If possible, the volunteers were also asked to get in contact with the Dutch resistance as the Chaudiere regiment was to start firing on the city the next day. At the time, Zwolle had a population of around 50,000 people and it was likely that innocent civilians would number among the casualties.

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Along with his friend Willy Arseneault, Major started to creep toward the city. Willy was killed by German soldiers around midnight after the pair ran across a roadblock.

 

 

 

Reportedly, Willy was able to kill his attacker before dying himself. Understandably angry, Major picked up his friend’s machine gun and ran at the enemy, killing two of the remaining German soldiers; the rest fled in a vehicle.
Major continued on and soon ambushed a staff vehicle and captured the German driver who he had lead him to an officer drinking in a nearby tavern. He informed the officer that Canadian forces would begin firing heavy artillery on the city, resulting in the deaths of many German soldiers and Zwolle civilians alike. He didn’t mention that he was alone.

Afterwards, Major gave the man his gun back and, with that seed of knowledge soon to be spread throughout the German troops, he immediately began running up and down the streets shooting a machine gun and tossing grenades. The grenades made a lot of noise, but he made sure to place them where they wouldn’t cause much damage to the town or its citizens.

In the early hours of the morning, he stumbled upon a group of eight soldiers. Though they pulled a gun on him, he killed four and caused the rest to flee. Major himself escaped the confrontation without injury and only one regret: he later stated he felt he should have killed all of them. 

As he continued his campaign of terror throughout the night, the German soldiers began to panic, thinking a large body of Canadian forces were attacking them.  By 4 a.m., the Germans had vanished. An entire garrison—estimated to have been made up of several hundred soldiers—had been made so afraid of nothing more than a single, one-eyed man that they fled the town. The city of Zwolle had been liberated without the need for the death of civilians or many of the soldiers on both sides of the lines that would have taken part in the messy battle.

Rather than fall asleep after running around the city in the wee hours of morning avoiding German gunfire and causing all kinds of mayhem, Major enlisted the help of several Dutch civilians to retrieve the body of his friend Willy. Only after his friend’s body had been recovered did Major report to his commanding officer that there was “no enemy” in the city.Major found out later that morning that the Germans had fled to the west of the River IJssel

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and, perhaps more importantly, that the planned shelling of the city would be called off and his Régiment de la Chaudière could enter the city unopposed. Major then took his dead friend back to the Van Gerner farm until regimental reinforcements could carry him away. He was back at camp by 9:00 am. For his actions, he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal.The Canadian army marched in to the sound of cheers rather than gun shots. For his actions at Zwolle, Major received a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Léo Major fought in the Korean War, where he was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Conduct Medal for capturing and holding a key hill (Hill 355).

This position was being controlled by the Third US Infantry Division (around 10,000 men) when the 64th Chinese Army (around 40,000 men) lowered a decisive artillery barrage. Over the course of two days, the Americans were pushed back by elements of the Chinese 190th and 191st Divisions.

They tried to recapture the hill, but without any success, and the Chinese had moved to the nearby Hill 227, practically surrounding the US forces. In order to relieve pressure, LCol J.A. Dextraze, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion Royal 22nd Regiment, brought up an elite scout and sniper team led by Léo Major. Wielding Stenguns, Major and his 18 men silently crept up the hill. At a signal, Major’s men opened fire, panicking the Chinese who were trying to understand why the firing was coming from the center of their troops instead of from the outside. By 12:45 am they had retaken the hill.

However, an hour later two Chinese divisions (the 190th and the 191st, totaling around 14,000 men) counter-attacked. Major was ordered to retreat, but refused and found scant cover for his men. There he held the enemy off throughout the night, though they were so close to him that Major’s own mortar shells were practically raining down on him.

For three days his men held off multiple Chinese counter-assaults until reinforcements arrived. For his actions, Major was awarded the bar to the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

 

 

“I fought the war with only one eye, and I did pretty good.”

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In Zwolle a street was named after him with a subtext on the street sign saying “Canadian first liberator of Zwolle (1921–2008)”

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(the picture is taken by Jocely Major, whom I presume is either a daughter or grand-daughter)

It just goes to show that one man can make a difference.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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