Buckskin Westerns is proud to have unearthed Louis L'Amour's original pulp magazine version of Showdown Trail. When L'Amour's agent sold film rights to the movies, L'Amour offered to novelize it for Fawcett Gold Medal Books, a prominent paperback publisher of the era who had published the novelization of Hondo which had proved a bestseller for them. Then, as now, a movie meant a strong paperback sale for any book. Many fans believe the taut magazine versions of his novels are the best. You can see for yourself by reading the Buckskin Editions reprint of Showdown Trail, which was first published in Giant Western magazine Winter 1948.
The lengthened paperback version, titled after the filmscript, The
Tall Stranger, starred the superb western star, Joel McCrea, who seems born to have played the kind of hero L'Amour loved to write. The first paperback editions contained photographs from the film on the covers. But later ones featured paintings focusing on the story's protagonist, Ned Bannon, the tall stranger of the title.
The film is considered one of the finest western movies of its time. And no wonder, in addition to McCrea it featured Virginia Mayo, Michael Ansara, John Mitchum, and Whitt Bissel, while the screenplay was by no less a literary light than Christopher Knopf.
The Tall Stranger has a 4.5 star rating at Amazon. The plot concerns Bannon, a Union officer wounded in battle, who joins up
with a wagon train
heading westward. He is ostracized by those passengers who'd fought on
the Confederate side, though leading lady Virginia Mayo welcomes his
presence. Bannon redeems himself in the eyes of the ex-Confederate
homesteaders when he acts as mediator in a range dispute with a land
baron, who turns out to be Bannon's half brother.