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In the tradition of classic westerns, a narrator sets up the story of a lone gunslinger who walks into a saloon. However, the people in this saloon can hear the narrator and the narrator may just be a little bit bloodthirsty.
A reformed Gunfighter Jimmy Ringo is on his way to a sleepy town in the hope of a reunion with his estranged sweetheart and their young son who he has never seen. On arrival, a chance meeting with some old friends including the town's Marshal gives the repentant Jimmy some respite. But as always Jimmy's reputation has already cast its shadow, this time in the form of three vengeful cowboys hot on his trail and a local gunslinger hoping to use Jimmy to make a name for himself. With a showdown looming, the town is soon in a frenzy as news of Jimmy's arrival spreads. His movements are restricted to the saloon while a secret meeting with his son can be arranged giving him ideas of a long term reunion with his family far removed from his wild past. Written by
John Wayne was interested in playing Jimmy Ringo. His final film The Shootist (1976) has often been compared with this film. Wayne always expressed regret at not playing the role. See more »
When Jimmy Ringo goes into the hotel room to get the sniper with the winchester rifle, the lock on the door is just a handle. There is no mechanism to go into the jamb to allow the door to lock. See more »
What was I supposed to do, stand there and let that little boy shoot me full of holes?
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This film was made during the peak years of "Film Noir". Although it is almost incongruous to place the western film into that genre, "The Gunfighter" comes close to meeting the criteria.
It is a deep dark western devoid of gunplay(until the conclusion)highlighted by a marvelous portrait painted by Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo, the gunfighter, trying to escape his past.
Ringo in his younger days was one of the "fastest guns in the west" who has survived to reach middle age. As he has matured he realizes you can't change what has happened.
Everywhere Ringo goes he is perceived as the "the fastest gun in the west" and everywhere he stops there is some young gun who wants to prove he is faster than the great Ringo. In fact when Ringo stops in a dusty town, he is being pursued by three brothers of his latest victim seeking revenge.
Ringo's arrival in this town is more than just co-incidence. We learn that the sheriff (what a performance by Millard Mitchell) used to run with the Ringo gang, the saloon singer was married to Ringo's best friend, and most importantly, Ringo's wife and son live there.
The bulk of the story is spent waiting to see if Ringo who lives by his wits as well as his guns, can survive.
The acting is uniform with Karl Malden as the saloon keeper and Skip Homeier standing alongside Peck of Mitchell for acting cudos
The script by Bill Bowers is taught and suspenseful. Henry King's in his second of 5 films with Peck(their previous collaboration was "Twelve O'Clock High") brings out the essence of a tired lonely tragic man without using any tricks(In fact there is no music except for the opening titles.
If you're looking for a shoot-em-up you won't find it here. If what you want is a top flight adult western, well pardner you've come to the right film.
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