The New Guns of Honor?

Most of the world knows of the Hollywood Celebrity “Martin Sheen,” (born and baptized Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez). Much of the world knows that he portrayed General Robert E. Lee in the film “Gettysburg.” I am even on record mildly complimenting his performance. Of course, nobody today can possible represent Lee, but I thought Sheen did better than Robert Duvall as Lee in the otherwise admirable “Gods and Generals.” Duvall played Lee too old, too rednecky, and with the wrong accent.

Few people know that Sheen played an admirable Confederate officer in another movie. It was known as “Guns of Honor,” released in 1994. Here is the official description by the producing company:

“A stellar cast, including Martin Sheen (Gettysburg), Christopher Atkins (The Blue Lagoon) and Jurgen Prochnow (Interceptor) star in this fast and furious adventure set across the Rio Grande just after the great Civil War. Defeated Confederate soldiers, branded outlaws by their own government, are recruited for one final mission to restore their lost glory. Aided by a beautiful former Southern spy, they are assigned to run guns to the Mexican government. After blasting it out with the local rebels, these renegades must then pass through territory controlled by the invading French army. With nothing to lose, they ride bravely into battle, determined to regain their honor and prepared for anything that lies ahead!”

I once owned a VHS of this movie and it was not bad, Sheen being, of course, the admirably brave, honorable, and able Confederate commander. Foolishly, I tossed out the VHS tape thinking that I would replace it with a DVD. Well, I have the newly purchased DVD. The cover of the disc container shows Sheen and Atkins, well-armed, before a very visible waving Confederate flag, just as did the VHS container. The back cover of the disc holder displays word for word the description cited above, as does the selling information on Amazon.

The disc and the beginning of the film are labeled “Guns of Honor.” But, alas, an entirely different movie has been substituted. It is a film, from the same company the same year, formerly called “Trigger Fast.” In what now is sold as “Guns of Honor” there are no Mexicans, nothing taking place across the Rio Grande, no Confederate flags or uniforms, no beautiful Southern spy, no French army, no glory, lost or otherwise, and no General Sheridan (who appears as a character in the real “Guns of Honor”).

Sheen and Prochnow barely appear, in the first few minutes of the substitute. “Trigger Fast” seems to be more or less about ex-Confederates suffering under Reconstruction in Texas. This theme is so vaguely and faintly portrayed that most viewers will not understand that Shane, Prochnow and other good people are ex-Confederates. They will assume that this is just one more Western with an evil cattle baron against the small fry.

What can explain this deception other than as an attempt to delete the Confederacy from film history? This is certainly Orwellian as well as probably an actionable bit of fraudulent advertising.

Perhaps somewhere the real “Guns of Honor” still exists, perhaps in a foreign country or somewhere in cyberspace. We ought to find it and make it available, even if we have to bootleg it.

About Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews and is co-publisher of www.shotwellpublishing.com, a source  for unreconstructed Southern books. More from Clyde Wilson

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