What Western was Bill Hicks talking about when he said "You all saw him, he had a gun."
March 17, 2007 3:31 PM   Subscribe

What Western, if any, was Bill Hicks referencing when he thought he was talking about Shane?

Here's the fairly famous Bill Hicks routine:

I'm so sick of arming the world and then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries, then we go and blow the shit out of them. We're like the bullies of the world, you know.

We're like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheep herder's feet: "Pick it up."

"I don't wanna pick it up mister, you'll shoot me."

"Pick up the gun."

"Mister, I don't want no trouble, huh. I just came down town here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about 10 rolls a week of that stuff. I ain't looking for no trouble, mister."

"Pick up the gun."

Boom, boom.

"You all saw him. He had a gun."

I just got done watching Shane for the first time and none of this happens. The only similarity is that Jack Palance is in it and a homesteader is shot by him, but he's got his own gun and draws it on Palance intending to shoot him. He was, in fact, looking for trouble.

None of the dialogue, including the awesome "You all saw him, he had a gun" is uttered in any variation.

The oddest thing about all this is if you google the line, you find tons of people quoting the Hicks routine verbatim in Jack Palance remembrances and other, non-Hicks related places as if this exchange actually happened.

What gives? Was this all the result of Hicks' fertile imagination or was there an actual Western where this took place?
posted by unsupervised to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's John Wayne in Rio Bravo.

"John T. Chance: You want that gun, pick it up. I wish you would."
posted by mattbucher at 4:34 PM on March 17, 2007

a little poking around, and my guess is he made it up. A site specific search of IMDB gives 0 returns for that particular phrase, and I'd highly suspect such a phrase, if it existed, would be found.
As mattbucher suggest it could also be an amalgam of different scenes with a wholly Hicks punchline.
posted by edgeways at 4:36 PM on March 17, 2007

I (mis?)remembered a scene like the one you're looking for in one of Leone's films but I'm not finding any evidence of it either in looking up various plot summaries or in skimming through the films and playing through the likely scenes. And it doesn't sound much like his characters except maybe Ramon, El Indio, and Frank.

In McCabe and Mrs. Miller there's a naive young man going to pick up some new socks, stopped on a suspension bridge and tricked by a fast-draw hothead into pulling his gun. But the line of dialogue isn't there, just the splash into the iced-over stream and some people watching the body from the other side. That's the closest I've found to the scene Bill Hicks described.
posted by Tuwa at 6:10 PM on March 17, 2007

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Hicks got a couple of different movies mixed-up in his mind when he was coming up with the bit.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:35 PM on March 17, 2007

The IMDb boards have a spot for this discussion, and again the consensus is that it isn't in the film... but perhaps was in the series? Unlikely... no Jack Palance there. As many times as this scene show up across the internets, many times in tribute to Palance's passing, I am flabbergasted that you, and others on that board, testify that it's a fiction. I mean, was Bill Hicks as popular as that? Wow. I'd better get Shane watched.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:38 PM on March 17, 2007

It's funny; I could swear that this scene (or a similar: bad guy forces helpless farmer to pick up gun) was in some movie I've seen. I don't know Hicks' stuff well enough to be getting it from there.

I've seen mainly just major (later) westerns: Shane, High Noon, Once Upon a Time in the West, Good Bad and the Ugly, Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid, Magnificent Seven, Unforgiven. Might check those, all well worth seeing in their own right. (Could check with imdb.com, for each title, under "memorable quotes"; I can't do it right now.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:47 PM on March 17, 2007

I googled SO much. It seems universally referenced as Jack Palace in Shane, as often as not with a nod to Bill Hicks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:15 AM on March 18, 2007

Bill Hicks was on a lot of drugs. It's probably a mishmash of a bunch of different movies. . . .
posted by FlyingMonkey at 12:33 AM on March 18, 2007

I recently rented Shane expecting to see Jack Palance do this. Instead he just lurked around. Wonder what the best movies are to see him do his Carl Grissom raspy evil schtick.
posted by Kirklander at 7:30 AM on March 18, 2007

There have been a number of movies that have done something like this, I imagine as a tip of the hat to whatever the original was (which I apologize for not knowing offhand). For instance, a similar scene happens in Unforgiven, when Gene Hackman offers a magazine writer working with a notorious "bad man" (played by Richard Harris) a loaded weapon to show him how difficult it is to kill a man. Come to think of it, Unforgiven came out in '92, and Hicks died in '94--maybe he was thinking of that scene? Probably not.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2007

I always thought it was a mix of lots of things, but specifically the *great* Clint Eastwood film Pale Rider.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2007

It's only natural for a stand-up comedian to paraphrase these things creatively for effect and confabulate to their own advantage. I wouldn't expect to find those exact words in any particular western if I were you.

It's like his retelling of the Cops episode with the domestic squabble. In no way exact, but funny and poignant.
posted by zebra3 at 12:13 PM on March 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

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