Wild West Chronicles: The Bandit Queen
The true tale of Pearl Hart, known as the notorious “Bandit Queen.” With no money to care for her gravely ill mother, Pearl makes a fateful decision to enter a life of crime and soon becomes the first woman to rob a stagecoach in the Old West.
Wild West Chronicles covers genuine wild west history in a fascinating series that includes re-enactments, stories, old photos, and spirited action. The music matches the action and slow moments as well.
In this episode, we are introduced to Bat Masterson, who had been sheriff in Dodge City, Kan., and now was serving as a reporter, traveling to various parts of the west to chronicle old west stories and to interview various people associated with its history. Joe Boot, who had traveled with Pearl Hart, shares his memories with Bat, who gives him an honorarium to help him.
This first episode focuses on Pearl Hart, a Canadian born outlaw who committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies in the U.S. She was also known as “The Bandit Queen.” She is one of the few female outlaws to reach fame in the old west. It’s stated in the episode that there were some “pretty ruthless” outlaws in old west history, and they weren’t all men. Pearl was an example of this. A photograph of her is shown in the episode and the actress who plays her looks a lot like her, which adds to the realism of the re-enacted scenes.
Pearl was 16 when she met a gambler named Hart. She eloped with him. Unfortunately, Hart was a gambler, drinker, and mean, and Pearl eventually had enough of him and took off late one night while he was asleep. She headed to Arizona where she became a cook for a time. The episode also makes mention of the fact that Peal had once seen the famous Annie Oakley.
Various scenes demonstrate what the rough western life could be like. In one scene a drunk comes on to Pearl, who tells him it looked like he could use some coffee. “Are you going to put a little bit of sugar in it?” asks the drunk with the implied innuendo. The rough and tough scenes are included, with Pearl pouring alcohol on a man and a few fist fights are featured too. She plans a stagecoach robbery and adds, “Let’s not get caught.” They wind up netting $436, minus three dollars which Pearl gives to three passengers so they can have a meal when they get to the next town. She also allows a young, married woman to keep her wedding ring. But she’s not all heart, as she also kicks a stagecoach driver.
She eventually is caught and faces trial, but she turns on the tears, saying she was attempting to secure the money to go see her dying mother. The jury acquitted her, but the judge gave her five years for tampering with U.S. mail. She gets out of jail early when the governor of Arizona grants her a pardon. Her quote of, “I show ‘em a woman can do anything a man can do” was her trademark.
There are a few scenes of violence, and Hart learns she is pregnant while in jail, but this is a fairly, tame episode overall and has earned our Dove seal for Ages 12+. Parents should consult our content listing as they might be fine with kids a bit under the age of 12 watching the episode.
The Dove Take
This fascinating episode will draw you in to the life of the famous female western bandit, Pearl Hart.