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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>
In Man With the Gun Robert Mitchum plays Clint Tollinger, a man who hires his gun out to clean out lawless towns in the west of which there seems to be a never ending supply. But he comes to this particular town in search of his estranged wife, Jan Sterling who since she left him has taken up the occupation as Madam of the local bordello. Of course the girls which include Barbara Lawrence and the still unknown Angie Dickinson are still called dance hall girls, but the Code was slowly cracking.
It's by chance he gets drawn into the town politics involving a big cattle baron who runs roughshod over every thing and every one in the general vicinity. The town council hires him to clean out the place of gunmen and sheriff Henry Hull makes it official by making him his deputy and giving him a free hand as per Mitchum's terms. The results ain't pretty.
Mitchum's a grim, bitter man heading the cast of a grim and bitter western. Part of his bitterness is the estrangement between him and Sterling. There's quite a history behind it as the movie shows.
Man With a Gun is a good western, but I have to say I was let down by the climatic gunfight at the end. It takes place on a deserted town street while most of the cast is at a town council meeting. James Westerfield plays a part similar to J. Edward Bromberg's role in Jesse James. He sets up a nasty ambush for Mitchum. But I think the plan fell flat in the writing. If Mitchum didn't suspect he was being set up before he did with gunman Leo Gordon following him, he was not the smart guy we'd been led to believe.
Of course if you want to see what I'm talking about then by all means see Man With a Gun.
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