Saturday, March 25, 2017

Annie Oakley (1954-1957)

I don't know what's wrong with me, but I was watching another 1950s western, Annie Oakley, with Gail Davis in the title role. Less adult than some other westerns. Entirely fictional, nothing in the show related in any way to the life of the real Annie Oakley except that she wore a ridiculous western cowgirl costume and could shoot really well.

In the introduction, we see Annie standing up on the back of a galloping horse firing a gun and precisely shooting a hole in the middle of a playing card a man was holding in his hand.

And yet she never shoots anyone.

In one episode she leaps from a horse onto a moving stage coach being chased by criminals who are shooting at them and had just killed the driver. Annie grabs reins and lets the stage coach guy ineffectually shoot at the criminals until he gets killed, too. Obviously she should have let him drive. She could have effortlessly killed those guys.

She shoots guns out of people's hands and that's about all. She gets kidnapped, her little brother gets kidnapped, and she still doesn't shoot anyone.

It wasn't that they were trying to be non-violent. They had murders in every episode, some of them witnessed by her preteen brother. The kids' uncle is sheriff and he goes around punching people in the face even when conflicts could have easily been resolved.

They just never let women shoot people on these westerns.

One time, on The Big Valley, Miss Barbara Stanwyck was kidnapped and held for days. She finally got her hands on a gun and even then all she did was hold them at bay. They still wouldn't let her kill anybody.

Reportedly, Annie Oakley would have continued at least one more season, but Jimmy Hawkins who played her brother hit his adolescent growth spurt, although I don't know why that should have ended it.

The show is now public domain and available on streaming video.

Jimmy Hawkins (left) as Tagg being menaced.

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