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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
Bob Dylan's 1986 song "Brownsville Girl," co-written with Sam Shepard, alludes to watching Gregory Peck in this film. Peck himself thanked Dylan publicly when he delivered the speech when Dylan was given his Kennedy Center award in 1997. 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 »
Of all the westerns cranked out by the Hollywood film factory over the years only a few have become classics. This is possibly the best one of them all, much better than such highly touted items as John Ford's "The Searchers." And Gregory Peck plays the gunfighter to perfection. Peck was such a creative and brilliant actor, one wonders why he was so under appreciated. "The Gunfighter" gives Peck his best movie role, even better than his marvelous Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Almost matching Gregory Peck is a stellar cast with stand out performances by Karl Malden, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker, and Helen Westcott. Of special note are the characterizations by Skip Homeier as the wannabe gunfighter, sort of a carbon copy of Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) when he was wet behind the ears, and Richard Jaeckel who makes the most of his brief part.
What really makes this movie shine is Henry King's direction. When the movie opens, we see the gunfighter riding across the prairie as if pursued by the devil. One is reminded of the blues classic by Robert Johnson, "Hellhounds On My Trail." It is obvious that the gunfighter is running away from something hellish but it is soon revealed that he is also riding toward something, a lost dream, a life that could have been had he followed a different trail. The gunfighter thinks he can still grasp this life, that it is not too late. But deep in his psyche he knows it will never be. He holds on to the dream but is satisfied just to see his wife and little boy one last time, for the hounds of Hell are about to catch up with him.
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