Gary Herron

If there’s one guy in Rio Rancho who could have fit right in during those gun-slinging, cattle-driving, whooping-and-hollering days, it’s Don Bullis.
Tall and lean, always seen wearing a cowboy hat, Bullis, 81, could even play a role in a Western movie.
Speaking of which, he’s the author of a new book hot off the Rio Grande Press in Los Ranchos: “No Manure on Main Street: An Historian’s Diary of Western Movies.”
Yes, you know Bullis is a historian; he was named New Mexico’s Centennial Author in 2012, and he’s written multiple books in that genre. (Free advice: Don’t ask Bullis why he has no respect for Billy the Kid.)
He’s a stickler for accuracy, which led to the title of this new offering.
Bullis says in light of all the horses common in Westerns, and what they tend to frequently emit, “You never see manure (in those movies).”
You can’t argue that, but when you think about it, you don’t see what comes naturally to humans, either, in any movie, nor do they ever seem to eat. When’s the last time a large posse hunting a wanted man stopped at a buffet?
Nor do you see privies, he notes, and this book “takes a look at some of the mistakes and deals with my opinions interrupted only by the insertion of a few other expert opinions, which are identified as such.”
But back to Bullis, who said he’s watched at least 240 Westerns since he recalls seeing his first, back in 1947, in order to compile his new book, which encompasses more than 450 pages, including an index.
Fans of John Wayne will find entries for more than two-dozen of the Duke’s flicks. Bullis touts “The Shootist,” Wayne’s last movie, as his best and awards it four solid “silver conchos,” the way he rates good movies. Bad movies receive “horse apples.”
Also among his faves are “Wild Bunch” and “Unforgiven,” which he said are “significant in the genre” and “My Darling Clementine,” which Bullis credited as significant “from a historical standpoint.”
There’s a special section for “Spaghetti Westerns” starring Clint Eastwood — still making movies at age 91.
That trio is made up of “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”
Those usually considered great Westerns get reviews, too, including “Shane,” “High Noon,” “Tombstone” and the original “The Magnificent Seven,” which Bullis awards a rare four silver conchos. One of this writer’s favorites (“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”) gets three silver conchos.
“I like every moment of it,” Bullis notes on page 245, including the “legendary” quote from the movie, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Surprisingly, the forgettable “Flap” is in there. Bullis gives it one solid horse apple, but it is his claim to fame on the silver screen: He recalls standing on Central Avenue during the 1970 filming, “watching everyone go by” as part of a crowd scene.
Bullis informs readers, “In viewing the film several times in the years since, I have been unable to find my face in the crowd” and suggests that clip may have wound up on the cutting-room floor.
But he did get to attend the movie’s premiere at the old Hilton Hotel in downtown Albuquerque, where he met the film’s star, Anthony Quinn.
Soon, you’ll be able to find the book on Amazon, as well as at Treasure House in Old Town.

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer