A stranger comes to town looking for his estranged wife. He finds her running the local girls. He also finds a town and sheriff afraid of their own shadow, scared of a landowner they never see who rules through his rowdy sidekicks. The stranger is a town tamer by trade, and he accepts a $500 commission to sort things out. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Those guns... all that talk about fighting... what happened to you today. I'm scared!
Honey, you just can't keep on turning the other cheek with a cemetery as big as we've got.
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Man With the Gun is pretty much forgotten now, but caused a minor storm of media interest back in 1955 when Robert Mitchum turned down both Jett Rink in Giant (which had actually been written for him and which was subsequently substantially reworked) and Charles Laughton's intended version of The Naked and the Dead to make it instead. Despite some obvious production problems and some harsh lighting that occasionally renders both Mitch and Jan Sterling in unflattering tones, it's a terrific dark western that more than stands comparison with his earlier Blood on the Moon as his 'town tamer' sets to work on a town that never had the chance to grow up before getting run down by the local badmen before turning out to possibly be almost as bad as the men he dispatches. Certainly his way of dealing with news of a death in the family burning a saloon to the ground and goading its manager into trying to kill him doesn't inspire much confidence in his stability. As well as a good script and a surprisingly good supporting turn from the usually irritating but here well cast Henry Hull, it also boasts a strikingly good early Alex North score, which even includes an early workout for one of his tormented emotional cues that would later turn up in Spartacus.
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