10 Things I Learned: The Gunfighter

10 Things I Learned: <i>The Gunfighter</i>


Jimmy Ringo, the protagonist of the 1950 western The Gunfighter, is based on real-life nineteenth-century outlaw John Peters Ringgold, better known as Johnny Ringo. One of Tombstone, Arizona’s most notorious gunslingers, he also served as the model for the Ringo Kid in John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939).


Another inspiration for The Gunfighter was retired boxer Jack Dempsey. One night at the former heavyweight champion’s New York City restaurant, Dempsey told one of the film’s screenwriters, William Bowers, that kids were always trying to pick fights with him in order to prove themselves.


The Gunfighter, originally titled The Big Gun, was written with John Wayne in mind. The star expressed interest in buying the script, but it was eventually purchased by Columbia Pictures—at which point Wayne refused to be involved in the project, on account of his dislike for the studio’s president, Harry Cohn. The screenplay was later sold to Twentieth Century-Fox, and Gregory Peck was cast as the lead.

John Wayne on location for Rio Grande

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