The peace-loving owner of a general store, who became a town hero when he luckily killed the leader of a gang of bank robbers, is deserted by the townspeople who fear the threatened return of the vengeful bandits.
The story involves an overland journey through hostile Cheyenne territory to rescue two white women captured by the Cheyenne. One has turned renegade and is not anxious to be rescued as she... See full summary »
In Tomahawk, the crooked Jackman brothers control the town, Sheriff Dunham is up for re-election, the sheep growers are banned in town and a stagecoach line undercover investigator arrives to catch the gang that regularly robs the stages.
The Dennis gang wants to rob the bank of the sleepy peaceful town of Plainview, Texas. Small town banks like this one have less money than large city banks but they're easy prey. Barlow, the gang's contact in town, assures them that Plainview only has an old marshal, Pete MacKay, who shouldn't pose any problem. The gang heads to Plainview. In town, storekeeper Jack Wright runs his store with wife Martha and brother-in-law Wally. Marshal MacKay and doctor Lacey are playing chess inside the store. Jack Wright makes his daily deposit at the bank and then returns to the store. The Dennis gang arrives and robs the bank, killing a teller and the alerted marshal. In the street, storekeeper Jack Wright picks the dead marshal's gun up and shoots fleeing robber Alvin Dennis, from a great distance. Townsman George Henderson finishes Alvin off with a shotgun. The bandit drops the loot and the bank recovers it. The townsfolk proclaim Jack Wright and George Henderson to be heroes. Storekeeper Jack ... Written by
Joel McCrea was originally cast as Jack Wright. See more »
[Bob Dennis is practicing aiming and firing his gun]
You're sure itchin' to use that thing again, ain't ya?
Never hurts to be ready.
You're always ready. Put it away.
You're nervous, huh?
Yeah, well, I wouldn't be if it wasn't for you.
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I'm not a huge Fred MacMurray fan when it comes to Westerns, I guess, but he could do a credible enough job as he did in At Gunpoint. The basic storyline involves a store clerk who shoots one of an escaping band of robbers. Only by a lucky shot does the clerk actually hit and kill one of the robbers; the dead guy's brother who is also in the gang makes it his personal business to get revenge, especially when the newspapers glorify the action of the clerk in shooting down the bad guy.
This movie has one of my all-time favorite Western character actors, Skip Homeier, who is the bad guy seeking revenge. (Homeier and MacMurray are also a protagonist / antagonist pair in another Western, "Day of the Bad Man", where MacMurray plays a judge.) In this movie, MacMurray's son is played by Tommy Rettig of the 'Jeff's Collie' (i.e. 'Lassie') TV show and he is rather annoying in the role. Maybe the director wasn't paying as much attention to him, as Rettig was really very good in 'River of No Return' with Robert Mitchum. (The lucky kid had Marilyn Monroe's hands all over him during that movie!) Walter Brennan, another great, is in this movie and as a testy old doctor, he has some pretty funny acidic observations to make. When his best friend and checkers-partner gets shot and killed, Brennan underplays the scene where he sees that his friend is dead - and he does so masterfully. He gives only the slightest view of his anguish but you can tell he's devastated. Brennan was a giant of the Westerns and he's great in this movie as always.
I think the premise of a story is all important and this movie has a great one - take an ordinary guy, give him beginner's luck at accidentally beating the bad guy, then have the rest of the bad guys come back seeking revenge. Don't compare this movie to High Noon as one other person did, because it's really not the same theme. Frankly if I had a choice of which one to watch right now it would be this movie, At Gunpoint. (And I do like High Noon very much, but this is also a darned good film.) You won't waste your time by watching this one. If you like Westerns, this is one you will enjoy.
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