Legends of Western Cinema Week || Noteworthy Sidekicks

As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite things about Westerns is the unique exploration of friendship typically to be found within them.  So, for this post, I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of the best pals I've encountered so far.  These men are the ones who work most closely with the protagonist, the ones who keep them grounded and offer some levity in the midst of what is usually none too lighthearted work.

⎼ ⎼ Heck Gilpin, Broken Trail ⎼ ⎼

"Heck" Henry Gilpin

I love Heck, and I love the way his character is written.  Tom first encounters him in a saloon, trying to scrape some money together by fiddle-playing.  After an adorable gesture on Tom's side, a fast friendship is formed and Heck joins their little cavalcade.  He's a quiet but vital presence throughout the movie, content to keep in the background but always ready to help out with the trail work and defend the girls.  He deserves better than the end he receives, but regardless, I'm glad he's in the movie. 

⎼ ⎼ Pompey, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance ⎼ ⎼

Vera Miles (Hallie) + Woody Strode (Pompey) in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"

Quiet and sensible, Pompey has a deep sense of loyalty to Tom and steps in to save the day more than once.  (When he comes to rescue Tom from his self-started fire in That One Scene . . . *sniffles*)  It's been a while since I've seen the film, so I don't recall that much of his role, but I remember liking it.  

⎼ ⎼ Vin, The Magnificent Seven ⎼ ⎼

style 2013 05 steve mcqueen mcqueen magnificent seven 3

I love Vin's wry, sparing demeanor throughout this whole story.  Always ready with a little wisecrack and always ready to support Chris.  Despite his rather dubious attitude, he does believe in the "mission" and he's not afraid to let people know it.  ("Just didn't want you to think you were the only sucker in town.")

⎼ ⎼ Little Creek, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron ⎼ ⎼


This guy is great.  He's serious and calculating, but playful as well.  And his friendship with Spirit is hilarious and moving and grin-inducing.  So, yeah, you should watch the movie and find out for yourself. ;) 

Who are your favorite cowboy sidekicks?


  1. As I read more of y'all's posts, the more I realize how many westerns I actually haven't seen... :P I've watched The Magnificent Seven though, and remember Vin being a fun sidekick. Those characters that always have those witty, wisecracking lines are always the best. xD

    1. Haha! Well, to be fair . . . there are like fifty gajillion Westerns out there. One can hardly watch them all. :-P

      Yes, aren't they?

  2. Ah, I'm loving this week!! So fun. I feel like I was practically raised on Westerns, so I'm enjoying in all of these posts. Thanks for putting this on, Olivia!!

    And yes to sidekicks. :) Pompey is pretty cool. And Vin is definitely cool. I couldn't stop cracking up over his facial expressions throughout the entire movie. Priceless. One of my favorite sidekicks (kind of?) is Martin Pawley in the Searchers. I love that movie. :) In general, I just have a soft spot for side characters. Who knows why.

    Anyway. Ramblings are over. I'm loving these posts. :)

    ~Vanessa :D

    1. Yay!! What are some of your favorite Westerns, Vanessa?

      I know, aren't Vin's expressions great? Ooh, I haven't watched the movie version of The Searchers, but I have read the book, and was impressed. Yes, side characters are awesome. :) <3

      I'm so happy you enjoyed it! I was blessed to be able to do it with such great cohosts and participants. :)

    2. *rubs hands together in glee*
      My first exposure to Westerns were TV shows, and to this day I'm still a big fan of those. The earlier seasons of Rawhide (I never saw the later ones, but it started going downhill even in the middle of the show's run), and Wanted Dead or Alive are probably my favorites.

      As for movies, most of my favorites tend to be pre-1965 John Wayne stuff. Except the super early ones, which are just a little bit weird. I'd have to say The Searchers is my favorite, though, just because the plot, the scenery, the music, the characters, the actors...pretty much all of it. :) But I'm down for most Westerns, even if they're not amazing, I can heartily enjoy them. :)

      Again, thanks for hosting this! 'Twas so fun! :)

      ~Vanessa :D

  3. "Better than the end he receives"...
    Great, now I know he dies. :P

    Just kidding, maybe that's not what you meant. But if so...spoiler warning, Olivia. xD (jk ;))

    Aww, Pompey is great.

    Okay I already really want to rewatch the Mag7 but that screencap and quote of Vin's just made want to more.

    I love Little Creek and Spirit's friendship so much. ♥

    1. Welllllll . . . "the end he receives" COULD mean all kinds of things. You don't know. :-P Maybe he has a Tragical Romance. Maybe his horse dies. Maybe he has to go back east for some family thing. Who can say?? ;-P ;-P (Hee hee. ;))

      Yush. <3

      You really should, especially since you like Steve McQueen. ;) He has some great lines.

      YES. The whole movie is so fantastic and I'm happy you love it too. :) <3

    2. "Has to go back east for some family thing." xD Well considering I'm probably about halfway through Broken Trail I shall find out soon....!!

      (Overall I'm liking it a lot so far, minus a few quibbles. ;) Also I didn't realize it was a miniseries?? I thought it was a movie. xD)

  4. All-time favourite sidekick would be those played by Gabby Hayes. By the late 1930s he had reached the point of playing the same character, a lovable old windbag who was loyal and brave, to Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Randolph Scott.

    1. Ooh! I don't recognize the name Gabby Hayes. *goes to Google him* His face does look familiar, I just can't place a particular role. Oh, well. He definitely looks like his sidekick roles would be all kinds of fun. ;)

  5. I can never decide if Vin or Chris is supposed to be the main character in Mag7. Chris is the leader, but Vin seems to get more character development. Maybe. Maybe they're co-main-characters.

    In the TV Show, Chris is very obviously the main character, but in the original movie, I Just Don't Know. I know Yul Brynner believed he was the main star, but Steve McQueen tended to do his best to steal every scene out from under him, and the two had a not-so-friendly rivalry going on, I guess. Anyway, hmm.

    Pompey is wonderful.

    1. Good point! Yeah . . . I don't know. My guess would be that Chris is supposed to be the Main main character, but I'm not sure. Vin seems very important, too.

      Aww, really? That's unfortunate. If only they hadn't both been so diva-ish. :-P

    2. I was literally just about to comment about this! Like, Vin seems to be doing an AWFUL LOT in the movie to just be a sidekick. xD And if you look closely, he's actually vying for attention in the background of all the scenes he doesn't have the spotlight in, so that your attention is drawn to him (playing with his hat, gun, etc). It's kind of sad and funny that Steve and Yul were both like "No, I'M the most important one!" xD


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