If you ever get the opportunity to shoot a western with John Ford you must seize it with both hands. That’s what I did when he offered me a part in It’s The Merry Band of Bandits, and apart from a urinary infection that I probably caught from one of the horses I have no regrets.
The picture was to star Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, better known as the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, playing cowboys with yours truly as the chief of the local Indian tribe. I have to say that dear Stan and darling Ollie were absolute masters of their craft and it was entirely my own fault that I mistimed a stunt that resulted in me getting hit in the face with a shovel.
I thought we’d never stop laughing!
Ford was livid and docked me a week’s salary, but I didn’t care.
When he wasn’t looking I put shoe polish on his view-finder so that when he peered through it he seemed to have a black eye! Stan and Ollie thought this was even funnier than the bucket in the face and went on to use it in nearly all their films, but Johnny was livid!
Things got a little out of hand when he pushed me off my horse, but then he fired me and we drew a line under the whole episode. There were no hard feelings, but the picture never got made until many years later when it was released under its new name, The Three Amigos. It’s a shame we never finished it in John’s lifetime, but he was just such a perfectionist. As a darts player however he was truly awful. But that’s another story…