Gun Fury (1953)
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Walsh introduced his main characters quickly:
Ben (Rock Hudson) is a California-bound settler interested only in the future He spent five years fighting somebody else's quarrel The woman he intends to marry is meeting him in Haynesville They will go on to his place from there
Jennifer Ballard (Donna Reed) has never been so happy She just can't believe that she is really with Ben She has waited for him so long
Frank Slayton (Phil Carey) is a ruthless 'Southern gentleman' who fought the war and saw 'his' world die For him, Jennifer brought back things he hadn't thought of in years: Richmond, the ladies in fancy dresses, garden parties, dances
Jess (Leo Gordon) was not trying to run things But he refused to let Slayton drag Miss Ballard along
Walsh's direction was simple, direct and muscular, wary of self-consciously picturesque or poetic camera angles Always a popular entertainer he was one of the more able, resilient and versatile Hollywood directors
Unfortunately, the barren South West is not remote enough from recent history. Men have crossed the Rockies to escape from the bitterness back East, but they have carried their violence westwards with them.
The film is the story of a stagecoach holdup which turns into an abduction, then a manhunt. Ben Warren (Rock Hudson) sets off after the bad guys who kidnapped his bride-to-be, and pursues them across the Arizona desert.
A standard horse opera, "Gun Fury" contains no more than the average complement of guns and precious little fury. There are absurdities in the storyline, like the holdup with fake cavalry escort, and the ease with which the 'good guys' recover from seemingly mortal harm (Ben is shot dead, apparently, but then gets up and carries on as if nothing happened, and Jess is almost dead from sunstroke but quickly rallies and rides after Slayton). The trade of Jennifer for Jess is silly, not least because Jess would never want to rejoin Slayton's gang.
One directorial quirk exhibited by Raoul Walsh is the way in which any character who throws something (knife, rock, pottery) has a victim's-point-of-view cutaway inserted. The viewer is, for an instant, seemingly the target of the missile. The purpose of this oddity is to exploit the 3-D format in which the film was originally shot.
The only other talking point is the presence of Lee Marvin and Neville Brand as bad guys in Slayton's gang.
Verdict - workmanlike western, but nothing special
Plot sees Hudson as Civil War veteran Ben Warren, who after meeting up with Jennifer (Reed), the girl he is soon to marry, catches the stage to Haynesville. But little do they know that two of the passengers (Carey & Gordon) that are travelling with them are outlaws who are after the strongbox on board the coach. Once the hold-up occurs a fight breaks out and during the mêlée Ben is shot and presumed dead . The outlaws flee taking Jennifer with them. But Ben is not dead, and now he's after them. Having recently turned pacifist, just what will he do to get his love back unharmed?.
Originally presented in 3-D on its release, Gun Fury is a brisk Western that unsurprisingly given it's director's keen eye for such things, isn't found wanting for action. However, for depth of story and character studies, it's not one too get excited about. Which is a shame because there's definitely scope within the plot to expand some of the protagonists psychological themes. Still, if one is after a quick fix of Western action staples then this serves its purpose. Gun play, horse pursuits and even fist fights in the water, Walsh delivers pulse raising scenes set in amongst the gorgeous back drops of Sedona. But be warned, the finale is some what tepid and doesn't do justice to what had gone before it.
Cast wise Hudson is solid enough but is blown off the screen by both Carey & Gordon. While Reed is attractive and professional in what is a pretty undemanding role. In the support cast there's the added bonus of having tough guys Marvin & Brand playing villains. The score from uncredited Arthur Morton & Mischa Bakaleinikoff links the narrative well enough, and there's some fun to be had with the 3-D moments as various items are launched at the screen. So a safe time filler for Western fans then, but it could, and should, have been much more. 6/10
Ex-Confederate Army cronies' embitterment and discontent is the excuse for stagecoach robbery, murder and kidnapping. Ben Warren [Hudson] is left for dead and his fiancé Jennifer Ballard [Reed] snatched under the unlikely pretext that gang leader Frank Slayton [Phil Carey] fancies her. The later elemental suggestion of suppressed carnality is best left as it was -suppressed. Donna Reed, despite torn blouse -is Rock's girl, and she remains so. Doesn't the Phil Carey know how things in Westerns work out? The plot of George's novel, TEN AGAINST CAESAR has been uncomplicated to a degree where an orangutan, given five seconds and a paintbrush, could have written the subsequence and denouement.
But credibility is not what this movie is all about.
It's about how parted Rock and Donna are re-united and triumph over -albeit manufactured -adversity ; it's about searing Arizona desert; the magnificence of 1950 Technicolor Western-making, and perhaps most of all about the making of desolation beautiful. I remember its flat screen release as a kid, was dying to see it but couldn't afford the admission. Had I seen it then I know how I would have reacted - I would have considered it good value and left the cinema, six-gun at the ready, seeking a showdown.
Throughout "Gun Fury", Walsh does a nice job of contrasting Hudson's mild, freedom-loving mannerism with Carey's vicious, unalloyed sadism. There are also, as expected from Walsh, some nifty scenes of outdoor scenery in the reddish Arizona desert. Donna Reed and Rock Hudson are great together; Phil Carey does good job playing the villain. Overall, a nice little Western that is worth checking out.
"Gun Fury" has, to its credit, many commendable attributes. The acting in the film is uniformly fine; I especially liked Leo Gordon here, as the former "bad guy" who helps Ben out. (He is given the picture's most amusing line: "All women are alike...they just have different faces so you can tell them apart.") The film features the typically sturdy direction that was Walsh's calling card, and sports a good deal of physical beauty, too. No, I'm not referring to Ms. Reed here, although she DOES look mighty fine, but rather to the gorgeous Arizona location shooting, enhanced by luscious Technicolor. The movie LOOKS fantastic, and this breathtaking backdrop can only have been more striking on the big screen and in 3-D, as the picture was originally shown. The film moves along briskly and with purpose, and ends with an exciting siege shoot-out and a (literally) cliffhanging dukeout between the principals. So what's the problem?
Well, for one thing, too many of the supporting characters are underdeveloped, especially Slayton gang members Blinky and Brazos, played, respectively, by the great Lee Marvin and Neville Brand. Granted, both men were just recently starting out in their careers in 1953 and were more character actors than leading men at this point, but still, a little character differentiation would have been nice. Johash and Stella are stock types, at best; Johash almost laughably so. And Donna Reed's character is a bit too wimpy and meek; a little more spirit from Jennifer would have been preferable to her near-total submissiveness to the Slayton gang. (Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh here, but having just seen the remarkably feisty spitfire that Eleanor Parker portrays in the 1955 Western "Many Rivers To Cross," I can only imagine what havoc SHE would have caused among Slayton's men!) Other problems: Those 3-D effects (a leaping rattler, a thrown knife, flying hooves, and hurled rocks, branches and pots) look pretty silly when watched on the 2-D small screen (strangely, the eye-patched Walsh probably couldn't even see his film in 3-D), and the film's many night scenes don't look nearly as spectacular as the ones filmed under the desert sun; indeed, they are way too dark, especially for home viewing. Finally, the film concludes a bit too abruptly for this viewer's tastes. Still, despite all, "Gun Fury" certainly does manage to please; Raoul Walsh couldn't make a dull picture if he tried. No, it's not in the same league as the director's "High Sierra," "Objective, Burma!" or "White Heat" (then again, how many pictures are?), but remains a perfectly acceptable entertainment nevertheless....
The film has the look and feel of a Randolph Scott western, it's just the kind of story that Scott was in fact doing at Columbia with Budd Boetticher. I would not be surprised if this wasn't something Scott might have had in mind for himself. Of course there would have been changes made as Scott was a much older man than the youthful Rock Hudson.
Donna Reed is Hudson's fiancé who is on a stagecoach west to meet her man. On the stage also is notorious outlaw Philip Carey traveling incognito because he plans to meet up with his gang and rob the stage later.
Carey is best known as the boss of those exuberant Texas Rangers in Laredo, but here he's a bad man, rotten through and through. He also decided to take Donna Reed as well because he's tired of the woman he has now, Roberta Haynes.
Carey thinks he's killed Hudson, but Hudson's quite alive and on his trail with a former Carey outlaw member Leo Gordon along with him.
Gun Fury shows how much the western grew up in the Fifties. This kind of story involving kidnapping and sexual abuse was definitely not for the Saturday matinée kiddie trade. Though Hudson and Reed are good, it's Philip Carey who really dominates the film.
He's got quite a collection of noted screen bad guys in his crew. Besides Leo Gordon, Neville Brand and Lee Marvin are also around.
Can't tell you how it ends, but Hudson and Gordon pick up an Indian along the way who proves to be of great assistance.
Shot mostly outside in the Sedona, Arizona, region, this is a very picturesque Western. While the film begins slow it morphs into a chase movie with loads of Western action. The cast is great with Hudson in his prime and Leo Gordon as the ex-gang member, Jess, whom Ben starts to befriend. But it's Phil Carey who shines as the villainous Frank Slayton, an embittered ex-Confederate Southern "gentleman" who's still at war. The antagonism between Slayton and Jess is interesting in that Jess feels Slayton goes too far in his outlaw activities and increasingly objects. Although Slayton doesn't put up with it, it's clear that he regards Jess as a partner a partner he's willing to slay in a heartbeat if necessary.
Carey comes across as a malevolent version of Charlton Heston. His character of Slayton is interesting: He justifies his crimes on the grounds that he's still at war even if the Civil War ended years ago. He wants Jennifer (Reed) because she's a genuine Southern Belle who reminds him of his former world, a world the war has forever destroyed.
Despite all these good things, there are some glaring script problems. Warren is said to be dead by one of the outlaws after the stagecoach heist, but later gets up and no injury is mentioned the rest of the movie (although he momentarily touches his head when he wakes and looks for blood on his hand, implying that he was perhaps head-grazed by a bullet). The worst plot hole is the awkward swap deal shown at the end, which totally ignores the vengeful Native. Old Westerns are notorious for these types of roll-your-eyes script flaws.
If you can overlook such defects, however, "Gun Fury" is a worthwhile 50's Western for the many positive points noted above.
The film is short and sweet at only 83 minutes.
Slayton's gang robs the stagecoach Ben and Jennifer are traveling in...Ben's shot and left for dead...and Jennifer is kidnapped by Frank Slayton...who over the objections of his gang...wants to take her into Mexico and make her his woman. Capable Western character actors... Ben Gordon, Lee Marvin and Neville Brand are among the gang members. They're made up of former Southern soldiers who've refused to accept defeat; nor wish to conform to civilian life.
Ben pursues...and the action follows him and Tom Burgress (Gordon) who's betrayed by Slayton trying to catch the outlaws. Ben and Burgress ask for help in ensuing towns...to no avail and that's the only part of the script that wavered for me. How a pack of outlaws...who've made off with a payroll and killed a stage driver have no law hot on their trail...just 3 men ...an Indian joins them later...after Slayton for various reasons.
(Spoiler warning)Slayton is despicable...he waits until he has Jennifer to himself in a border town he frequents...gets the local hussies to clean the road dust off her...dresses in a dress of his choosing...then, since he knows he's never going to have her willingly...forces himself on her.
Right and Hudson do prevail in an action packed and believable conclusion.
The occasional things coming right at the camera (it's a 3D movie) as usual look odd...but the exteriors are beautiful...and Raoul Walsh's direction is capable, as always. I rated it a 7...it's well paced, holds interest and not a bad Saturday afternoon.
Despite the slow start this was a decent western with several exciting scenes. Rock Hudson did a good job as the heroic Ben however Philip Carey had a greater presence as the villainous Slayton. Actresses Donna Reed and Roberta Haynes were also pretty good as Jennifer and the feisty Mexican Estella Morales. Lee Marvin, who would later go on to become a major star has a role as one of the gangsters; he seems to have played many such parts at this point in his career. Filmed amongst some spectacular Arizona scenery the film looks great although the moments that were designed to show off the films original 3-D release were not too subtle... although it might just seem that way because I'd read it was shot in 3-D shortly before viewing it! The story went pretty much as one would expect although we were allowed to think that Ben had died for an impressively long time... if he hadn't been played by the star I'd have assumed he he'd been killed... I'm not sure why the villains thought he was dead though; after regaining consciousness he acted as though nothing had happened to him! If you like westerns this one is well worth your time.
When the story begins, Jennifer (Donna Reed) is on her way out west to meet her fiancé, Ben Warren (Hudson). However, a gang leader, Frank Slayton (Philip Carey) has set his eyes on Jennifer...and after robbing the stage and leaving Ben for dead, he absconds with the woman! His gang isn't thrilled with the idea...killing folks and stealing is fine...but why bring along this captive?! When Jess (Leo Gordon) argues with Slayton, his boss beats him senseless and leaves him behind! Soon, Ben and Jess band together to trail the gang, as both men want Slayton!
This is a very good film...with excellent acting, a taut script and enough different about this to make it stand out from the bazillion of other westerns out there. Also, the Sedona, Arizona scenery is amazing...a lovely backdrop to the story.
Four travelers, Jennifer Ballard (Donna Reed), Buffalo bones buyer Weatherby (Forrest Lewis) and Southern charmer Frank Slaton (Phil Carey) along with his partner Jess Burgess (Leo Gordon), are heading across Arizona. Jennifer is going to meet her fiancé Ben Warren (Hudson) in order to get married and move on to California. At a stop over the girl is surprised by the unexpected appearance of Ben.
As they continue their journey, Slaton reveals himself as the notorious killer he is as he and his gang rob the stage of it's sizable gold shipment. His gang includes Blinky (Lee Marvin), Brazos (Neville Brand) and Westy (John "Lefty" Cason). During the robbery Ben is shot and believed dead as the Salton gang makes off with the loot and Jennifer. Slaton has a run-in with Jess and ties him up and leaves him to die.
Ben however is only wounded and takes up the pursuit. He rescues Jess and the two form a partnership. They are later joined by an Indian Vincente (I hope I got this right)(Don Carlos). When the trio catches up to the gang an exchange is arranged (Jennifer for Jess) and.............................................
Hudson was just hitting his stride and had made other westerns, so he was at home in the saddle. He is quite good as the revengeful Warren. Donna Reed was about to win an Academy Award for "From Here to Eternity". Carey never did make it to the "A" list but was always dependable in the westerns of the day that he appeared in. Roberta Hayes livens things up as Slaton's "girl he left behind", Estella. Marvin and Brand have little to do as members of the gang but would soon graduate to better parts. I always liked John Cason who appeared in many "A" and "B' list westerns of the day. He could always be spotted with his left handed holster and his distinctive voice.
Originally filmed in 3D by a director with but one eye.
*Plot and ending analyzed*
Gun Fury from 1953, is not a bad Western at all. It has familiar faces (Donna Reed, Lee Marvin and Neville Brand) and stars Rock Hudson. Rock Hudson is a bit stiff and bemoans throughout the film, but still, he's up to the challenge of rescuing his to-be bride from a vicious and notorious gang. Jess Burgess (actor Leo Gordon) is a part of the gang but later gets lynched up for trying to save Donna Reed. They are joined by a Taos Indian and go on the hunt.
The landscape is stunning (the Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona) and the direction competent.
It's a nice Western to watch anytime.
It has a believable story, with a well written screenplay, that takes advantage of the 1950's new technology, big screen, brilliant Technicolor and great location shooting.
Aside from a couple of stereotypes, the Indian and the fiery Mexican girl, the cast of characters have depth and are are genuinely believable. Phil Carey was good, Rock Hudson did not overplay his role, although Donna Reed was just along for the ride.
The score is well constructed and keeps everything moving.
I didn't expect much from this movie, given the banal title, but stayed involved with the characters until the very end.
I actually cared how it all turned out!
semi Italian cut hairdo,popular at that time.With a good story and plot make it 2d worthy too .The 3D cinema photography was excellent.Columbia was know to having more throwing things at the camera in their 3D movies.In spit of this it did not detract from the story.The only thing I did not like about it was, that, the painting in the front cover, of the Blu-ray disc, did not look like the stars.Columbia did a 3D short with an unknown Comedian ,name Harry Mimmo,why did not twilight add this too the menu ?Well I'm glad that this movie was restored to the way it was meant to be seen ,In it's 3D glory.With Raoul Walsh ,who lost one eye in an accident in 28, he did a fine job. The night time scene's if you look closely were shot in daylight ,with gray colored filters.It surprised me that it did not messed up the 3D effect by blocking more of the polar light.It includes a booklet that discuses the director and film and surprised! an honest to goodness 3D trailer of the movie.09/21/17 .