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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Marshal Lee Sims:
Now don't tell them church biddies I said so, but Nelly is quite a female. Ain't no lady, of course, but if some of the men in this town stood up to Dade's boys like she does...
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Clint Tollinger arrives in a small town looking for his estranged wife and news of his daughter, tho he finds her, the chance of any sort of reconciliation is very slim. Whilst here, the sheriff and the important townsfolk learn of Tollinger's reputation as a pistol specialist town tamer. As they are living in fear of a mysterious landowner who is stripping the town from them bit by bit, they hold a meeting that chooses to hire Tollinger to rid the town of it's unsavoury elements.
Man With The Gun seems to be either a forgotten piece or a vastly under seen one, at the time of me writing this, it has just over 200 votes and a paltry 9 user comments written for it on IMDb. It's a shame on either score because although the production values scream out that this is a B movie Western, this is a fine entry in the Western genre. That the piece takes on a rather standard plot theme of an harangued town turning to an avenging dark angel, probably hasn't done the film any favours over the years, I myself read the synopsis and thought it's just another in the line of similarly themed pictures. Yet I was pleasantly surprised to find a darkly dramatic picture boasting many enjoyable moments, both technically and as a functioning story.
Robert Mitchum is in the lead as Tollinger, perfectly cast, he strides thru the picture like some brooding menace. We often talk about the screen presence that John Wayne and Charlton Heston had (justifiably of course), Mitchum is right up there with the best of them. One sequence here sees him standing in the shadows at the back of a room as a meeting takes place, we don't see his face, but we can feel that piercing brood staring out at us! The rest of the cast are also very much in Mitchum's shadow, so really it's solely with the big man that the film's acting credentials are high, perhaps it's unfair to single out Ted de Corsia for a kick, but Man With The Gun's minor failings are with its villains, and sadly de Corsia is lacking any sort of villainesque menace. The score from Alex North is excellently layered (fans of Spartacus will certainly be pricking their ears up) and the cinematography from Lee Garmes is highly impressive when one realises that the majority of this picture was shot on the studio lot. Directed and co-written by first time director Richard Wilson, Man With The Gun holds few surprises for the genre, but it's dark in tone, violent and above all else, highly watchable. 7.5/10
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