On November 3rd, 2021, a movie by the name of The Harder They Fall made its way to Netflix and via that to each and every home. The movie starts with a pretty simple and straight message that says that the “events of the movie are fictional”. Over the course of 137 minutes, the British director Jeymes Samuel has created a piece of art with this beauty. But is all this fiction? What is The Harder They Fall’s real story?
Sure, the story of the movie and even the plot is a work of fiction, but a lot of characters remind us of actual historical figures. Characters include Nat Love, Bass Reeves, Rufus Buck, and Cherokee Bill. All of these characters share their names with real people. The characters in the movie at some point take a lot of inspiration from these historic figures; at the same time they go on to do something drastically opposite of that. Let’s just have a look at each of these amazing people, shall we?
Jonathan Majors plays the role of Nat Love in Netflix‘s The Harder They Fall. He is an outlaw who is known for petty thievery but is also looking for the man who murdered his parents. Nat Love was an actual cowboy in the West; we know a lot about him from his autobiography published in the year 1907: The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, Better Known in the Cattle Country as “Deadwood Dick”. As per this book, Nat was born a slave and later became a very popular figure in the West. Following his marriage, he began working as a porter.
A very unlikely ally that awaited Nat was U.S. deputy marshal Bass Reeves (played by Delroy Lindo). In the movie, both of these characters get along well, whereas, in real life, Bass was said to be a very honest and devout officer. According to The Harder They Fall’s real story, he was a slave at the start of his life but later became a marshal; catching as many as 3000 felons in his service of 3 decades.
Reeves was an extraordinary lawman for many reasons; he was fluent in several languages, was an amazing detective, and was a really great shooter. One of the sharpshooters said, “He could shoot the left hind leg off a contented fly sitting on a mule’s ear at a hundred yards and never ruffle a hair.”
Rufus Chuck’s The Harder They Fall real story
Idris Elba‘s Rufus Chuck is a longtime criminal who was hardened and made like this by systematic racism and the people in power. But if we look at The Harder They Fall real story, Rufus Chuck never made it past 18. Rufus was born to a Black mother and a Creek Indian Father; the young kid made a small gang of boys and regularly engaged in shootings, loots, and even raping and beating their victims. The gang was eventually captured and sentenced to death.
His goal was to reclaim the region from the white settlers, “His dream was impossible; he used the same violence to achieve it that he saw all around him.” This is what novelist Leonce Gaiter wrote about him. The writer weaved an entire book titled “I Dreamt I Was in Heaven: The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang”; based on Rufus’ story the book was published in the year 2011.
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Portrayed in the film by Lakeith Stanfield, Cherokee Bill is someone who runs with Rufus Chuck. In reality, he was a feared criminal in himself and never was a part of Rufus’ gang. Bill had a rather mixed heritage including Sioux, Mexican, Black, and white ancestors; he was indeed a very cruel human. Bill was described as “bloodthirsty mad dog who killed for the love of killing” by Judge Parker; in Gunfighters: A Chronicle of Dangerous Men & Violent Death.
The Harder They Fall- the real story of Mary Fields
Zazie Beets plays the role of Mary Fields. In the movie, she is the romantic foil of Nat Love. But when talking about The Harder They Fall real story; Mary Fields came into the limelight when she left her home and join the Catholic mission that took her to the wilds of Montana.