William S. Hart Farewell Speech

September 4, 2008

William S. Hart’s final film was 1925’s “Tumbleweeds.”  In 1939, for it’s re-release, Hart appeared in his only sound footage for an 8 minute prelude to the film.  He introduced the film then announced his retirement from motion pictures.  It is sublime.

You can see this wonderful performance here.  The entire speech in fantastic, but the words to savor start at 4:15 and…they are…as if written by an angel…

After your heart starts again, behold below you, a humble transcription of the final few minutes of William S. Hart’s speech:

“My friends, I love the art of making motion pictures. It is as the breath of life to me. But through those hazardous feats of horsemanship that I love so well to do for you, I received many major injuries. That, coupled with the added years of life, preclude my again doing those things that I so gloried in doing. The rush of the wind that cuts your face, the pounding hoofs of the pursuing posse, out there in front a fallen tree trunk that spans a yawning canyon, the old animal under you that takes it in the same low ground-eating gallop, the harmless shots of the baffled ones that remain behind, and then, the clouds of dust, through which come the faint voice of the director (cupping hand to mouth) ‘okay, Bill, okay, glad you made it, great stuff, Bill, great stuff, and say, Bill, give ol’ Fritz a pat on the nose for me, will ya?’ Oh, the thrill of it all. You do give old Fritz a pat on the nose, and as your arm encircles his neck, the cloud of dust is no longer a cloud of dust but a beautiful golden haze, through which appears a long phantom herd of trailing cattle, at their head, a pinto pony (sob) a pinto pony with an empty saddle, and then a low, loved whinny, the whinny of a horse so fine that nothing seems to live between it and silence saying ‘say Boss, what you riding back there with the drag fer, why don’t you come on here and ride point with me? Can’t you see, Boss, can’t you see? The saddle is empty. The boys up ahead are calling. They’re waiting for you and me to help drive this last great round-up into eternity.’ Adios Amigos, God bless you all, each and every one.”

Amen.

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