Horace Bell by Steven Wayne Knight | Script Revolution

Horace Bell



Page Count: 



Age Rating:

Based On: 
Authors' novel "1853 Los Angeles Gangs" with Midwest Book Review.
Spinning Real Entertainment
Two men fueled by their own justifiable vengeance, Horace Bell and Juan Flores cross purposes as dual protagonists seeking 1850s California as the prize.

Horace Bell and Juan Flores, co-protagonists in this historical western drama set in the 1850s California Gold Rush, are both driven by revenge; Horace against Juan and his gang for killing his best friend Paul; and Juan against the American miners who butchered his wife and unborn son.

Horace leaves the gold fields grief-stricken and almost penniless to start a new life with his uncle in the pueblo de Los Angeles. He decides to join the Rangers and thereby figures his path will soon cross with the lawless gang. He's right, and soon his vow to his dying friend materializes. As Juan's gang members betray Juan and disperse into southern California, one by one Horace meets up with them and orchestrates their demise until only Juan and Poncho Daniel remain alive.

Horace meets his first love interest, Paulette Bovierre, a delicious-looking French café owner skilled in the rapier, when he arrives via stage to the pueblo. He also notices his second love interest, Mexican heiress Jacinta Talamantes, while strolling the boardwalk. Paulette is key to introducing Horace to the local rangers and making him feel welcome in the town. As she and Horace leave a rancho dinner party on their first date, she defends herself against rape by slicing three men's throats. She gains Horace's respect and admiration as a capable, decisive woman. Their relationship grows as he sees her often in her café. Paulette becomes angry, however, when Horace takes an interest in Jacinta, and unknown to Paulette, even decides to marry her.

Horace's Uncle Alex is married to a Dona, who teaches Horace Spanish as he studies law. He makes fast friends with Tomas Sanchez, Andres Pico, Felipe Talamantes, Roy Bean, and other rangers who routinely chase down criminals in the most lawless state in the union. As the new American government land courts scrutinize the Mexican rancho deeds, Horace steps in as a new lawyer to defend their land titles. Horace is thus immersed into the Californio culture.

Juan Flores cannot shake his anger against the Americans. His hatred escalates into a frenzied plan to take California back for Mexico. He boldly calculates that the rich Californio Dons will join his revolution. He gathers a new army comprised of ex-cons from his San Quentin prison escape and unemployed, displaced vaqueros. One of his recruits is Andres Fontes. Fontes is out to kill L.A. Sheriff James Barton, who set him up for horse stealing. Juan's forces thunder toward Los Angeles County to execute their plan. Juan decides to bait Barton. He and his gang murder a German shopkeeper in San Juan Capistrano, and Barton, against common sense and sound advice, rushes out with a small posse to stop Juan. He is massacred and cut into little pieces. Two men survive and return to the pueblo with the grisly news of Barton's death.

Horace advises his new friends the Dons to side with the law and defeat Juan. The Dons weigh the pros and cons of the Juan Flores revolution. They fear the Americans and watch their neighbors losing massive land grants. But Juan is a dangerous, unpredictable madman. Rather than gambling their future well-being on him, they side with Horace and ride out to destroy Juan and his gang.

The battle of San Juan Capistrano decides Juan's fate. He's betrayed by his own Mexican people, the Dons, and all hopes for his revolution are dashed. He escapes with Poncho into the hills. Horace and Andres Pico capture them. Juan admits to Horace that it was his bullet from the gang that killed his friend Paul. Horace wants to immediately kill him but holds back to follow the law and return the men to Los Angeles for justice. But Juan and Poncho escape again and separate. Horace and Roy Bean attempt another capture where Juan shoots Horace in the arm and escapes again.

Juan is now alone and defeated. He seeks final revenge against the rich Dons and Horace. He knows Horace and Jacinta are dating. He finds Jacinta along a private brook on her property, kills her guard, then rapes and murders her. He then escapes to Mexico. Horace is on his way to propose to Jacinta armed with flowers. Riding up to the Talamantes casa, he soon learns of her murder. When he realizes Juan did the deed, he vows to never let him escape again and to bring him to justice for good.

Horace and Roy Bean finally capture Juan in Tia Juana, Mexico, and bring him back to the L.A. pueblo, where he is found guilty for many murders. Juan confesses his obsession with hate because of his personal torment to the local priest and later apologizes to the angry crowd for hurting many people. He finds redemption before being hanged in the town square.

Horace and Paulette make up and reignite their romance. Horace then visits the cemetery to say goodbye to Jacinta. He buries Paul's badge, his ever-present touchstone throughout the story, in the newly dug dirt and tells them to rest together. As he leaves, new sheriff Tomas Sanchez meets him at the gate. He asks Horace if he can help save his rancho from the land courts.

Attached Talent: 

Please contact Jaime Peralta - Executive Producer for Horace Bell script on IMdBpro for specifics (310) 465-7250 USA

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Please see Horace Bell (2019) on IMdBpro; Steven Wayne Knight on IMdbpro;
and Elizabeth Baldwin Knight on IMdBpro

Official Oaxaca FilmFest Endorsement Package




Dear Steven, Oaxaca FilmFest would like to thank you for entrusting us with your work and we are honored to present you with this review.

It is important to bring to your attention that this review does not constitute a critic of your work, but is aiming to offer you an objective commentary that can help enhance your artistic abilities.

Following the review of your project, here are some points that deserve attention:

10 - Set during the early days of the gold-rush, only eight days before the end of the Mexican/American War. The gold craze brought power to California, but it also brought with it greed and violence, in response California founded The Rangers. Young Horace Bell answers the call and travels to the pueblo, after his best friend Paul is murdered by Juan Flores, a Mexican desperado whit a tortuous past and with an anger that leads him to become one of the most ruthless criminals in the frontier.
10 - Horace Bell, was a real life figure. Born in Indiana on December 11, 1830. He spent some time digging for gold, with little success during the California gold rush in 1850. He came to the pueblo of Los Angeles in 1852 where he became a founding member of Los Angeles Rangers, and it’s during this period that this script focuses on. Bell is quite an accomplished figure, besides being a Ranger he was also a soldier, lawyer, journalist and published two seminal books on Southern California; his 1881 memoir “Reminisces of a Ranger: Early Times in Southern California” and “On the Old West Coast: Further reminiscence of a Ranger” published posthumously. No doubt being a fascinating figure of Los Angeles early history and a notable historical figure that hasn’t been properly explored yet, the script for HORACE BELL brings to light a chapter of Bell’s life where he served as a lawman in one of the most violent counties of Southern California. One would think that the subject matter wouldn’t be relevant today as times have changed, but wouldn’t you know, some things don’t change much at all. HORACE BELL explores the complicated relationship between Mexico and The United States, and how the proximity between both countries shaped them into what they are today. While Bell is an example of old American values and a sense of righteous justice, he lives in a world where people around him get hurt, and that the badge he wears is not always guarantee that he can bring justice to a lawless land, which to this day remains a problematic zone. Bell is a man of multiple dimensions, well-mannered and educated, intelligent and versatile, and yet he’s also a womanizer as he divides his attentions between a French café owner and a Mexican-American heiress.

Bell does his best to uphold the law, in more than two fronts as besides being a Ranger he is also a lawyer helping protect land owners from losing their rightful properties. Bell is a breed of man that is rarely seen these days, chivalrous yet rough, educated but prone to take action. He embodies the frontier spirit and all the things that were best of it as he resisted the permeating racism of the times, seeing every man and women as equals. He was impartial when it came to upholding the law, and while sometimes he was driven by revenge, he was a fervent proponent of doing things “by the book”. Of course, a hero is only as good as his villain, and Bell’s nemesis in this story is one Juan Flores. While Horace Bell is the main focus of the script, Juan Flores is also fully fleshed and far from being portrayed as a caricature. Instead, he is given a life of his own and powerful motivations to become the tragic outlaw he becomes on page. Along with Poncho Daniel, Flores was the leader of a gang known as “The Manillas” (The Handcuffs) becoming an infamous outlaw and yet some regard him as a folk hero among contemporary figures like Joaquin Murrieta (the man who would inspire Zorro). The script portrays Flores as a complicated man, in any other story he would have been the hero (and to some he is) Flores harbors an immense grudge after American soldiers’ rape and butcher his family, transforming him into a demon of a man. Smartly, the script shows him as someone driven to horrendous acts of violence that come from a place of deep pain. Much like many young men today with similar stories to that of Flores, and yet, as sympathetic as he may be, he still must be stopped. Bell and Flores’s quarrel becomes the stuff of legend, as one man gives chase to the other, in what is the quintessential Lawman versus Outlaw story.

10 - HORACE BELL is a script that is very well researched, as it is historically accurate, and while it takes a few liberties, it still sticks quite fatefully to events. Writer STEVEN WAYNE KNIGHT has served as a Los Angeles lawman himself, and his passion for the early days of law enforcement of California shows in every page. There’s also a love for the Western genre, as there’s a classic John Wayne spirit on every page that Horace Bell is in. However, this is not the sunny Technicolor romanticized vision of the west, this is dirty and gritty and realistic in its portrayal of a rough time to live in. The violence is bloody and cutthroat, and innocent characters we root for die with impact and meaning, often representing just how difficult it was to live in those times, as women and minorities become victims of rape and bigotry, while also showing how being a lawman in a lawless town was extremely dangerous work. HORACE BELL could have been a Sam Peckinpah film, as it reads on the page, memories of THE WILD BUNCH come to mind, particularly whenever Juan Flores takes center stage. Bell is a fascinating figure, and further reading on his life proves that this script focuses only on the beginning of his adventures, as he served many important roles in history (including joining Benito Juarez army in Mexico) which means that this could be the first of many scripts/films based on Bell. Flores himself is both a dastardly villain embodying everything that comes to mind when one thinks of an outlaw, but his rage comes from a genuine place, the kind of place that turns good men into beasts. He is given as much room as Bell, making him the co-protagonist of the film and becoming the other half of the coin. But above all, the script by Wayne Knight is filled with rich detail, from his descriptions of Californian haciendas, customs and daily life to his meticulous historical research and depiction of events, expertly integrated into representations of true life events.

These various elements constitute the strength of this project. Under no circumstances would I change any of these.

Nonetheless, there are a few points that need to be addressed, that possibly should have been handled differently.

10 - While the script is named after Horace Bell with good reason, having Flores be almost as present makes us think that the script’s title could be something that could represent both men’s war with each other.

10 - We can’t stress enough how well-written Flores is. As a Mexican myself, it worries me that in the current political climate a character like Flores confirms every suspicion directed towards Mexicans. However, it would be also naïve of me to say that there aren’t men like Flores living in our day and age, as one could imagine that had Flores been alive today, he would have joined a Cartel or, hell, even be the head of one. However, the script does a fantastic job of fleshing him out and showing where he comes from. And there’s also many positive Mexican characters in the script, as well as Horace Bell himself being a man who sees beyond skin. And his reasons for chasing after Flores are sound and fair.

10 - Paulette is a very fun character and she proves to be capable of defending herself, however she disappears for a good portion of the script. Still, she’s a very strong female character, we just wish we could have seen her do more. She’s great.

If I had one quote that would summarize the project, it would be this:

HORACE BELL is the lost Sam Peckinpah film, a worthy heir to become a modern THE WILD BUNCH.

I want to personally thank you again.

I hope this was helpful.

If you would like us to post this particular quote on IMDB, please contact me directly and I will be happy to do so.


Enrrico Wood Lagonigro.

Oaxaca FilmFest

Want to read this script? You must join the revolution first. Don't worry, it's free, easy, everyone's welcome, and you can start reading right away.

Open For Feedback

The writer of this script is currently soliciting feedback on it. Have you read this script? Do you have something to say about it?

Steven Wayne Knight's picture
Gold Star

The Writer: Steven Wayne Knight

Elizabeth Baldwin Knight, my wife, book editor on my two published novels, and co-writer on Horace Bell, the script, has taken her superb English skills and knowledge of the project back to the 1970s to team up with me to create this story.  She retired from court reporting after a 38-year career.  We are listed on IMdBpro.  Liz was one of a select number of accomplished graduates from the University of Alabama with a B.S in Administrative Sciences to attain a perfect 4.0 record.  She loves to write, and I write what I love.  Horace Bell is based on my novel 1853 Los Angeles Gangs, and the script to the sequel 1857 Los Angeles Fights Again is in... Go to bio

Steven Wayne Is A Rockstar Member Of Script Revolution

That means Steven Wayne helps keep the site running by contributing at least $5 a month via our Patreon Campaign. The site you are using right now is here partly because of their kind generosity.