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While on a manhunt the Marshal is saved by a passing gunslinger named Jagade. It is a time when law is coming to the west and when the gunslinger shows up in the Marshals' town the Marshal is caught between the town citezens fears and the debt he owes the gunslinger. The situation is further complicated by a previous relationship between the Marshal's fiancée and Jagade. Written by
Dale Ray <email@example.com>
That man is a creature of hell. If he stays here, he'll turn this town into a hell.
Marshal Allan Burnett:
But he can't do it alone. Our problem is to keep him from stampeding us into helping him.
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Tightly-paced, high-pressure, not quite formulaic western
A well-turned screenplay, efficient editing, good small-scale production values, and tense directing make A Day of Fury much better than most Westerns.
Dale Robertson is a better actor than his reputation, but all 3 leads are limited in range. The best role and performance are the Preacher by John Dehner, who helps any film in which he appears. Most Westerns present ministers either as comic-cowardly milquetoasts or as unrealistic studs who give up their guns for the good book. When changes unsettle the town, Day of Fury's Preacher is the first to lose his temper and threaten violence, but then he's embarrassed by his own failing and horrified that his parishioners turn into a lynch mob.
The plot plays an interesting variation on the classic Western formula of the Old Wild West struggling to survive in or against the Cleaned-Up Bourgeois Town. The taciturnity of Robertson's Jigade fairly inverts the man-of-few-words Sheriff typically played by Joel McCrea or Randolph Scott into a Mephistophelean villain who quietly but steadily chips and shatters the thin veneer of civilization until the townsfolk break down into drunken irresponsibility, foolish greed, and vengeful terror. Jagade's opportunistic power compromises the town's Sheriff, played by the physically imposing Jock Mahoney, whose taciturnity can only dwindle to mute puzzlement until the wild card in Jagade's deck--the punk gunman Billy Brant--changes the game and creates a clear path of action for the law.
The sets are few, but the director keeps moving the characters across each other in well-defined space. The film's most impressive quality is to open with an atmosphere of uncertainty that steadily escalates into tension or dread. But its most interesting feature is that the anti-hero Jagade seems to have orchestrated the story as a suicide note.
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