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Whenever it becomes known how good he is with guns, ex-gunman George and his wife Dora have to flee the town, in fear of all the gunmen who might want to challenge him. Unfortunately he again spills his secret when he's drunk. All citizens swear to keep his secret and support him to give up his guns forever -- but a boy tells the story to a gang of wanted criminals. Their leader threatens to burn down the whole town, if he doesn't duel him. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Unjustly neglected by most critics, this is definitely the best Glenn Ford Western and one of the top ten Westerns in film history. The unpredictable plot twist and surprising finale make it surpass Glenn's other great Western, 3:10 TO YUMA.
Glenn Ford, as a store keeper in a small town, claims to the townspeople that he is the fastest gun alive, yet he "never draws his gun against anybody," as he later says so in the church. It seems that he has an ego problem of wanting to be someone important and dislike to be look down by others.
This flawed character is much more flesh and blood than any Western hero I can recall, including that self-righteous marshal (Gary Cooper) in HIGH NOON and wooden Alan Ladd in SHANE.
Broderick Crawford's villain character is not so satisfying, as he remains ruthless and easy to lose his temper throughout the film. There are other ways to show how tough and vicious he is instead of shouting at people all the time. I like John Dehner's performance better by comparison. Although a minor villain, he plays it with more depth.
Jeanne Crain's wife role isn't very rich, she has barely another facial expression except miserable. Russ Tamblyn's solo dance number in the farm party shows the other side of town life, but the writer could give him more important jobs in the story. Anyway, the direction is tight and Glenn Ford is simply remarkable!
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