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Old 06-26-2009, 04:43 PM
Llama Llogophile Llama Llogophile is offline
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Unforgiven - English Bob's backstory

In Clint Eastwood's film Unforgiven, Richard Harris plays English Bob. He's a dangerous gunslinger, and it's said that he, "...works for the railroad shooting Chinamen."

Interesting line of work. Why would the railroads in the 1870's want to kill the Chinese?

Also, was that character based upon someone from history? Can't find anything on Google.
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Old 06-26-2009, 04:55 PM
astorian astorian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mach Tuck View Post
In Clint Eastwood's film Unforgiven, Richard Harris plays English Bob. He's a dangerous gunslinger, and it's said that he, "...works for the railroad shooting Chinamen."

Interesting line of work. Why would the railroads in the 1870's want to kill the Chinese?

Also, was that character based upon someone from history? Can't find anything on Google.
Animosity toward Chinese immigrants was VERY common in the West, and many were murdered with impunity.

BUT... not by the railroads. The railroads liked the Chinese, who seemed like a nearly unlimited source of dirt-cheap labor. Working class whites were the ones most likely to hate or kill the Chinese, who were seen as trespassers who were stealing all the jobs.
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Old 10-15-2011, 05:52 PM
mstockton mstockton is offline
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The railroad "employed" many coolies, as they were, in the trans-con construction. Needless to say many deserted. To preclude this in the middle of nowhere, places where labor was in short supply, they had them shot as warning to others.
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Old 10-15-2011, 06:45 PM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
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I assumed he shot them just before payday so that the railroad wouldn't have to pay up.

And remember his nickname: The Duck of Death.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:01 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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I think he's very loosely based in part on Ben Thompson, a Yorkshire born Texas marshal who, like many lawmen of the old west, crossed the border back and forth between legal and illegal activities.

Billy the Kid's biographers differ, but it's generally believed he was born of Northern Irish parents, possibly in Ulster but more probably in the northeast U.S. (most think NYC, some accounts theorize Boston). His birth name was probably Henry McCarty though, again, there are different theories. It's not inconceivable this somehow influenced the writers as well.

English Bob definitely uses a persona. Harris spoke to this in interviews at the time. There's a scene where English Bob is speaking with a fairly distinguished English accent (basically Richard Harris's theatrical voice) and when Little Bob confronts him he slips into a much lower (on the socioeconomic ladder) dialect from the one he's been speaking in, indicating a very poor boyhood- industrial or perhaps a potato famine survivor. He rights himself and resumes the original voice before Little Bill cripples his hands and arrests him.

Last edited by Sampiro; 10-15-2011 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:04 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mstockton View Post
The railroad "employed" many coolies, as they were, in the trans-con construction. Needless to say many deserted. To preclude this in the middle of nowhere, places where labor was in short supply, they had them shot as warning to others.
Or they might have shot any that were seen as troublemakers.

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Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
I assumed he shot them just before payday so that the railroad wouldn't have to pay up.
That's a lot of people to be killing. And it's a little inefficient to shoot your cheapest laborers if you're going to being needing the same number next week.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:07 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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This scene. Around 1:30 is when his dialect changes for a moment.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:34 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
This scene. Around 1:30 is when his dialect changes for a moment.
Love the Swedish subtitles!
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Old 10-15-2011, 09:18 PM
NDP NDP is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mstockton
The railroad "employed" many coolies, as they were, in the trans-con construction. Needless to say many deserted. To preclude this in the middle of nowhere, places where labor was in short supply, they had them shot as warning to others.
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Or they might have shot any that were seen as troublemakers.
In particular, those uppity rabble-rousers who might try to organize the others into striking for better pay and working conditions.
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Old 10-15-2011, 09:37 PM
Steophan Steophan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
English Bob definitely uses a persona. Harris spoke to this in interviews at the time. There's a scene where English Bob is speaking with a fairly distinguished English accent (basically Richard Harris's theatrical voice) and when Little Bob confronts him he slips into a much lower (on the socioeconomic ladder) dialect from the one he's been speaking in, indicating a very poor boyhood- industrial or perhaps a potato famine survivor. He rights himself and resumes the original voice before Little Bill cripples his hands and arrests him.
He definitely changes to a lower class English, not Irish, accent, so I doubt he's a potato famine survivor. His accent changes again as he's leaving on the stagecoach, I'll have to watch it again to see if it's a clear regional accent. My memory of it is as a working class London accent, but I've not seen it for a while.
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:26 PM
Scissorjack Scissorjack is offline
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Originally Posted by Steophan View Post
He definitely changes to a lower class English, not Irish, accent, so I doubt he's a potato famine survivor. His accent changes again as he's leaving on the stagecoach, I'll have to watch it again to see if it's a clear regional accent. My memory of it is as a working class London accent, but I've not seen it for a while.
From what I have read, Richard Harris was carrying on a feud with Michael Caine at the time, and English Bob's lapse into whining Cockney was a dig at Caine.
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Old 10-16-2011, 10:03 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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From what I have read, Richard Harris was carrying on a feud with Michael Caine at the time, and English Bob's lapse into whining Cockney was a dig at Caine.
A bit off topic, but he was apparently a petty guy (rest his soul and all). He had loud and vocal feuds with half the British entertainment industry and more than a few Americans. I'm surprised he and O'Toole remained chums. (Both McCourt brothers- Frank [author of Angela's Ashes] and character-actor/writer Malachy, came to blows with him and trashed/got trashed by him in print after the book made them famous.)
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Old 10-16-2011, 06:17 PM
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All this time I thought it was David Warner who played English Bob.
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