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Snakes in Movies
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Snakes in Movies
Four Faces West (1948)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
"The Strangest Desperado the West Has Ever Known!

This is a very unusual Western with no shooting, no fist-fighting, no real villains, and a love story. But there are a lot of chases, guns drawn or aimed but not fired, lots of great western scenery, and a biting rattlesnake. And, rare for a western, the cowboy doesn't shoot the snake.

Ross McEwen (Joel McCrea) is a good man down on his luck who forces a banker at gunpoint to loan him 2000 dollars. It's for his mother, but we don't know why she needs it, but it doesn't matter. It's still armed robbery, even though he leaves an I.O.U. and promises to pay back the banker. And it's the wild west so he's immediately on the run with a posse after him and a 3000 dollar dead-or-alive bounty.

Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot
Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot
Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot
He gets off his horse near a railroad line, planning to hop on the train. As he hides his saddle behind some rocks he is bitten by a rattlesnake. We don't see the bite, but we do see a brief shot of a rattlesnake. He rolls up his sleeve, ties a tourniquet with his bandana, then he pulls out a knife to cut the wound, sucks the venom, then spits it out. That's the "cut and suck" snakebite treatment that only works in the movies. Even though they still sell snakebite kits with a tourniquet, a cutter, and a sucking device, the procedure is no longer recommended.

Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot Four Faces West Screenshot

McEwen then runs to catch and board the train. Inside he goes in to a bathroom to look at the bite. The porter sees his bloody arm and calls for Fay Hollister (Frances Dee) a nurse on her way to a new job in Alamagordo. He tells her that a rattlesnake bit him and he already bled the wound himself, which sounds like he's done it before. She cleans and bandages the wound and tells him he may feel sick but it's a natural reaction. But he has a different kind of natural reaction - he falls for the nurse. But at least he has no more problems with the wound. The snakebite was just an excuse for him to meet Fay on the train and set off the love story part of the movie. It's a snakebite meet cute.

Later we see him seated next to Fay on the train. She is taking his pulse or something, and tells him he's going to live. She tells him she is from the East which she prefers to the West, which has noting but " and desert and hills with no trees." He tells her the West has a lot of beautiful... but she cuts him off and says "rattlesnakes?" which he can't argue with so he shuts up. Actually, she's right without knowing it. The West does have a lot of beautiful rattlesnakes - 16 different species to be exact.

That's it for the snake business. The rest of the movie involves him trying not to get caught by the posse, while getting caught by a pretty nurse.