Woodrow F. Call

As many times as I’ve seen the movie or read the book I have yet to get a true handle on Woodrow Call. I think this might be because there are two Woodrow Calls; the Woodrow Call in the book and the Woodrow Call in the movie.

Call was a driven man. But what drove him? What made him the man he became? Was it his upbringing by his Scot parents? I’m sure they instilled his Calvinistic work ethic, but how did they not instill any humor or the ability to love? Could it have been the times he grew up in? Times were hard back then. Living from crop to crop, scrabbling a meager existence by trying to not only to raise enough to eat but having some left over to sell? Could it have been his early years in the Rangers?

Think about what he endured after being taken prisoner by the Mexicans and being march south to Mexico. The punishment he endured being almost whipped to death; then having survived that, to have to draw a bean from a jar to determine if he lived or died. If nothing else, it had to have reaffirmed his Calvinist faith and thoughts of predestination. It might have been during the time of the Comanche troubles. Imagine riding up on a burnt out cabin, seeing what the Comanches had done to the family that had lived and died there. Might tend to make anybody hard.

What was it about Gus that made Call stick with him? Did he see what was missing in him in Gus? It was more than friendship, it was a dogged loyalty. I honestly don’t think he had the capability to love in him. I know he cared for Maggie, but he could never bring himself to be the least bit loving towards her. It seems like he preferred an almost monastic existence. I think that’s why he never could bring himself to acknowledge Newt as his son. It had nothing to do with Jake Spoon and Maggie. For Call to admit Newt was his son, would be to admit that he was no different than any other man.

Now, the Movie Call. Tommy Lee Jones was the consummate choice to portray him. Jones is an outstanding actor in his own way. He doesn’t become the role, but the role becomes him. He infused his personality into the role and gave Call some much needed humanity. Not so much as to change the shape of the character, but just enough make him a complete character so that Call wouldn’t be as dark and dour as he was in the book. Jones was able to make Call believable as a tragic man trapped by his life and decisions. He was able to inject some humor though dry it might be, into Call and make him a presence in the movie able to hold his own against the likes of Robert Duvall as Augustus McCrea. You think that the Book Call would have been as pained as the Movie Call when in his own way he gave Newt his watch and the Hell Bitch tacitly acknowledging him as his son; at least in his own mind?


  1. Sky says:

    Very interesting piece on Woodrow F Call, giving an insight to the man within and the man on the outside. Not a easy character or one for an actor to portray. McCrea and Call odd couple but together bought the best out in each other.

  2. Jason Harris says:

    You’ll love this.

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