Sunday 29 May 2011

Fatal Consequence For Femme Fatales

I was chatting to David Ashford author of the forthcoming Art of Denis Mcloughlin the other day and the subject drifted on to how in Westerns in the forties and fifties, there were two kinds of love interest.

Here's love interest number 1).

Cathy Downs as dependable bride to be Clementine from John Ford's beautiful and elegiac masterpiece; My Darling Clementine.

Trouble is that Clementine's intended is Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) who is in servitude to the demon drink and as a consequence spends the bulk of his hours of consciousness in the local saloon, where the lovely Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) has him well and truly wrapped around her dainty finger.

Chihuahua is the epitome of love interest number 2).

Just look at the contrast.

Yuppity .. you just know that Clemetine is the solid kind of gal that'll be good for child rearing, home making and baking the best ever blueberry pies this side of the Pecos.

Whereas Chihuahua is merely a beautiful flake. Burlesque dancing, singing, performing in revue and drinking with the boys are not skills to be inculcated into right thinking, God fearing wimmen no siree!

So the only solution is for Hollywood to apply it's own morality and ensure that any woman as exciting looking but otherwise devoid of any hint of domesticity as the lovely Chihuahua ends up like this:

But notice how though Chihuahua has taken the bullet meant for old Doc, even in her moment of extremis the old fuddy duddys have stepped in and removed all her make up and swept her fringe off her forehead so that she appears almost as angelic as Cathy Downs.

Apart from the fact that Cathy has trumped Linda by wearing a head scarf reminiscent of Florence Nightingale.

Actually the only people who emit any warmth in this sad scene which always has your poor old blogmeister weeping into his Kleenex are Doc and Chihuahua. Henry Fonda's brilliant portrayal of the Wild West equivalent of Gordon Brown has by this stage of the story awakened Clementine's reforming zeal, Aspberger's lawman being an even bigger challenge than drink sozzled gunslinger.

But the actuarial conclusion of the insurability of love interest number 1). versus love interest number 2). is like a complete no-brainer.

Hot women as in the sort that you could never take home to mother are heading to hell in a handcart.

This code of morality was of course extended into comics.

Here's one of many Will Eisner hotties that were only around for the seven pages that it took to relate a Spirit story.

and here's Ellen Dolan daughter of Commissioner Dolan as the Eisneresque answer to Cathy Downs:

and if you think that's bad just look at the fate of the fabulous looking Annette as lovingly delineated by Denis McLoughlin:

And again note how dull Roy Carson's girl Friday is in comparison.

Ever get the impression that someone's trying to tell you something???

The Spirit © DC Comics 2011

Archive editions of all Will Eisner's Spirit comics are available here.


  1. It seems to me that you and Dave have inexplicably missed out 'Cowboy Love Interest Number Three' - one that, on the evidence of countless popular ballads from the period, was likely to be closer by far to his heart than either of the other two:

    - Phil Rushton ;-)

  2. Typical Neigh-saying from Mr Rushton!

    I kinda figgered where that ole link wurr a gonna take me.


    (to be read in the voice of Walter Brennan)