Remington No 5 Rolling Block Musket. Model 1897 Military Rifle. 2 band with bayonet mount and sling swivels. Top wood intact and butt stock marked with the Batjac stamp. John Wayne’s production company. 30” barrel, most likely 7mm or 8mm Lebel caliber. Condition is fair with pitting, no finish, all parts original. Block spring is broken. A fine movie prop gun with strong markings. -------
PHIL SPANGENBERGER (Noted Arms Specialist, Historian. Writer & Autry Museum Consultant):
According to what I was told by the late Michael Wayne (John Wayne's oldest son and producer of several of his films), the Remington Rolling Block rifle with the BATJAC brand is one of several thousand that were purchased at an extremely low price (possibly as low as a few dollars each) from a surplus house. They were first purchased by Batjac for use in John Wayne's film, The Alamo.
These were to be used by the many extras comprising the Mexican army in the siege and attack scenes of the movie. A number of the rifles that would be seen fairly close to the cameras were fitted with reproduction, moving but non- functional, cast metal flintlock hammers and frizzens to resemble period muskets. These arms would have holes drilled in the right side of the lock plate to accommodate the fake flintlocks. Those rifles used by troops further back from view were not altered at all.
Michael also told me that sometime after the film, there was a fire where they were stored that destroyed most of these Remingtons, thus only a small number of them have survived. I have one of these in my own collection, and when I purchased it from a friend, I asked Michael about is and the above is what he related to me. I have every reason to believe him and upon close inspection of the film The Alamo, some of thee rifles can be seen, along with a number of trapdoor 1873 Springfields that the various studio gun rental houses (Stembridge, Ellis Mercantile, etc.) had previously altered and were rented for the film as well.
(signed) Phil Spangenberger
John Wayne and producer Robert Fellows founded Batjac in 1952 as Wayne/Fellows Productions. When Fellows left the company several years later, Wayne re-named the corporation after a fictitious trading company mentioned in the 1948 film Wake of the Red Witch. The company name in Wake of the Red Witch was spelled Batjak, but Wayne's secretary misspelled it as Batjac on the corporation papers, and Wayne let it stand. Having his own company gave Wayne artistic control over the films he made. Among Batjac's productions: The Alamo, Hondo, Cahill U.S. Marshal, Big Jake, McLintock!, The Green Berets, Seven Men from Now, and Brannigan. The most famous of all Batjac's films is Wayne's 1960 version of The Alamo, a project he had planned for several years. It was an account of the battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution of 1836. A labor of love for Wayne, The Alamo cost Wayne much of his personal fortune. Because of a production/distribution deal with Warner Bros. and United Artists, Batjac was allowed to retain all rights to four Wayne films: the WB-distributed The High and the Mighty, Hondo, and Island in the Sky, and the UA-distributed McLintock!. It also held full copyright ownership in several non-John Wayne movies, Seven Men From Now, Man in the Vault, Ring of Fear, Plunder of the Sun, Track of the Cat, China Doll, Escort West and Gun the Man Down.
After Wayne's death, his son Michael assumed full ownership and managed the company for over 30 years. He meticulously managed the release pattern of his films and restored Hondo and McLintock! in the early 1990s for release on VHS and television. His passion was to restore the other two films, but water damage to the original elements made it impossible during his lifetime. Taking advantage of the new digital restoration processes, Michael's widow Gretchen restored these films in 2004 and released them through a distribution deal with Paramount Pictures in 2005.