Buford (Mad Dog) Tannen
Have you seen the movie “Back to the Future III”?
If you answered no to either of these questions Old West Stories would like to acquaint you with Buford Tannen, who was born around 1862 but neither his exact date of birth or his place of birth can be determined with certainty. Mad Dog has his own page at Mad Dog Tannen.
Old West Stories believes that the portrayal of Buford (Mad Dog) Tannen by Thomas F. Wilson is one of the best performances of an outlaw from The Old West we have ever seen. Mad Dog is fictional but strikes me as just about as real as a movie outlaw can be. With no previous acting experience in a Western and hampered by the comedic background of the character, Thomas Wilson’s performance is all the more remarkable.
Bufort Tannen was a notorious gunman whose short temper and a tendency to drool earned him the nickname “Mad Dog”. He was quick on the trigger and bragged that he had killed 12 men, not including Indians or Chinamen. Not as many as Billy the Kid is reputed to have killed but this character is every bit as convincing as that real life outlaw.
Old West Stories Meets Science Fiction
The movie is a time travelling comedy set in The Old West. Old West Stories rates this as highly as any western we have ever seen. It has all of the prerequisites for a classic tale from the legends of the Wild Wild West, including:-
- A hero who is prepared to make a great sacrifice for what he knows is right – Doc Brown was willing to leave behind his one true love in order to protect the future;
- A beautiful love interest – Clara Clayton is a very beautiful teacher with an interest in the sciences;
- A frontier lawman – In the tradition created around the likes of Pat Garret and Wyatt Earp , Marshal Strickland is tough, courageous, takes every advantage to enforce the law and looks to pass on his dedication to the next generation;
- A classic shootout – With a twist when Mad Dog Tannen is stared down and beaten by the under-dog, Marty McFly. In case you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t reveal it here but there is a twist in this shoot out worthy of that other Old West Stories legend, Clint Eastwood;
- A bartender that knows everything that moves in the town; and
- A saloon full of old west stories type characters – Men that comment on everything and even place bets on who will live following a shootout.
Mad Dog Tannen and his gang of three operated around the remote hills and valleys surrounding the old west town of Hill Valley during 1885. Hill Valley is situated close to Haysville where the infamous outlaw Stinky Lomax operated until he was hung on September 2, 1885. In September of that year the town of Hell Valley was thriving on the back of the railway.
Mad Dog Tannen terrified the citizens of Hill Valley. In the wonderful story of the old west told in the movie “Back to the Future III” it is clear even the armed men in the Saloon, probably very experienced with those firearms and knowing full well how to look after themselves, are not willing to stand up to Tannen and his gang.
Mad Dog Tannen was portrayed in the movie by Thomas F Wilson (Born 1959, April 15). Wilson has appeared in several movies and television roles but as far as I know, this is his only Western. For my money, his portrayal of mad Dog Tannen was superb. Even within the restriction of playing a somewhat comedic and tragic character, the realism of his portrayal was simply fantastic. Too bad he ends up in a pile of manure after Marty McFly punched out his lights.
Check out more about Mad Dog Tannen on his new page under the Stories heading on the title banner.