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This little B-Western with James Arness in one of his last non-Gunsmoke
starring roles seems to have been heretofore almost forgotten, judging
by the lack of ratings and reviews here. I recently happened upon it on
Netflix and decided to give it a try. While perhaps not deserving of a
spot among the great westerns, it surprised me because it was truly
quite good and deserves more attention than it's received.
The plot, in short, involves Arness as one of three men who decide to hold up a bank. Arness is injured in the robbery, and subsequently left behind by his compatriots and, reluctantly, by his girl as well (Angie Dickinson, looking radiant in her first billable role). After being caught, convicted, and serving time for his part in the hold-up, he goes seeking his "friends" and his girl, bent on revenge.
The biggest thing that struck me about this little "BATJAC" western was the steady, deliberate pacing of the story and the focus on characters more so than on shoot-em-up, chase-em-down action. There's more tension than action (in fact, one could legitimately call it a suspense film), and I appreciated the refreshing change of pace from most B westerns (or westerns in general, for that matter). Besides, at a slim 74 minutes, it simply can't drag on forever.
This is a very thoughtful western in many respects. Characters are given much more life than you might expect. In particular, we see some interesting interaction between Sheriff Morton (Emile Meyer) and his deputy (Harry Carey, Jr.). The sheriff, who obviously is well past his gunslinging years, handles violence in his town sagely, keeping a close watch on events, while not putting himself in a position where his age would certainly compromise his life or his ability to do his job.
Again, it's not a perfect movie, but I was quite pleasantly surprised, and it's probably one of the best b-westerns I've seen. I recommend it.
John Wayne's Batjac Productions produced this tight B western starring
James Arness as a young outlaw seeking revenge on his running buddies
who left him to die. I'm betting this was probably filmed before Arness
started Gunsmoke in 1955. He was certainly riding the same horse in
this film as he did as Marshal Matt Dillon.
Worse than just leaving Arness to die with a bullet in him as the posse was on his trail, Robert Wilke and Don Megowan also took Arness's woman Angie Dickinson with them. The posse gets to Arness and he's patched up, but he won't rat out his friends. He has his own plans for them even if he has to serve a year for the robbery to do it.
Arness cuts a fine figure as a young outlaw who won't stand for a double cross. Wilke and Megowan are both western veterans and Wilke is a long time favorite villain in westerns. Angie Dickinson was 'introduced' in Gun The Man Down as a girl who'd like to be good, but has long forgotten how.
Emile Meyer has a nice role here as a sheriff with Harry Carey,Jr. as his somewhat inpatient deputy. Meyer is a firm believer in what Noel Coward said about only mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the noon day sun. He's also a believer in letting the bad guys shoot it out so he has that many less to deal with. His philosophy seems to work.
Gun The Man Down is a no frills western which is good on plot and characters. Andrew McLaglen made his directorial debut here and this is a harbinger of more good work by him on the big and small screen.
In 1885, Rem Anderson (James Arness) teams up with the outlaws Matt
Rankin (Robert J. Wilke) and Ralph Farley (Don Megowan) expecting to
heist the Palace City bank and buy a ranch to live with his girlfriend
Janice "Jan" (Angie Dickinson). However Rem is wounded and left behind
by his comrades and girlfriend. He is arrested by a posse but he does
not rat them. One year later, Rem is released from prison and seeks out
his former partners. He meets the gunslinger Billy Deal (Michael Emmet)
that gives the name of the town where Farley and Rankin are. On the
arrival, Rem meets Sheriff Morton (Emile Meyer) and Deputy Lee (Harry
Carey Jr.); then he finds his horse that had been stolen by Farley.
What will Rem do with Farley, Rankin and Jan?
"Gun the Man Down" is a flawed but entertaining unknown western and practically the debut of Angie Dickinson in the cinema. Emile Meyer steals the show in the role of a tranquil sheriff. The conclusion is flawed since Rem hunts down Rankin, Farley and Jan; he vanquishes Tankin, finds Jan near death; but he never finds Farley that was murdered by Rankin. Anyway, it is worthwhile watching this film. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Atire em Todos" ("Shoot Everybody")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was McLaglen first film as a director , he learned the trade from Budd Boetticher and John Ford. Burt Kennedy who used to work with Boetticher wrote the script. William Clothier the cinematographer used to work with both Boetticher and Ford. There is nothing unusual in the screenplay, except the character played by Angie Dickinson, Janice. She has a low self esteem which results in betraying her lover Rem (James Arness), when he is wounded and left alone. At the same time she has conflicting good feelings. But it is not only the unusual , but the conventional which contributes to make this such a remarkable western. It has the structure of a B western, but with great talent behind it. The intelligent script, the great camera angles, the precise pacing, excellent actors special mention to Dickinson and Michael Emmet as Billy Deal. You feel the influence of "High Noon" and "Winchester 73". Great scene where you see the shadow of a man and his rifle. Great western.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I caught this movie on TV because of the stars - James Arness & Angie Dickenson. I was pretty surprised. Expecting another western shoot-'em-up with sexy gun-moll, I saw, instead a very thoughtful story. Arness shows the acting chops that made him so successful for many years on Gunsmoke. Dickenson displayed the vague talents that pointed her to the career she enjoyed once she discovered bleach. Robert Wilke was his bad-guy best but not the truly evil character he normally plays. There's a certain "victim of circumstances" air about his character. I included a spoiler alert because I really need to talk about "plot holes". After a botched bank robbery, where a teller is shot and left for dead, one of the gang - Arness - is left behind, bleeding, for the posse to collect. But I can't understand why they never told him his cut would be waiting for him whenever he caught up with them down the road. After all, had they stayed, all would have been lost. This way, the money is saved if he (Arness) survives. I would think that would be a good deal. He couldn't ride and likely would have died if he tried. But then, there goes the whole story, I suppose. And I can't understand why Dickenson's character "takes up" with Wilke's. As "Rem Anderson's gal", Janice should have had access to a third of the loot in her own right and wouldn't need the kindness of the two remaining gang members. But then there would go THAT tension angle too. Finally, the other two gang members - Rankin & Farley - buy a saloon, but there's never anybody in it. How are they paying their rent? In fact, there's a dearth of townsfolk all around. Population appears to be about 4. Having said all that, I thought it was a great little movie. Very intriguing and excellent camera shots. Finally, one of my favorite characters may have been Emile Meyer's sheriff. Displaying all the sagacity of the old sheriff who's seen it all, and knows how best to position himself for events most likely to come. I might quarrel with his strapping on a six- shooter instead of grabbing the old sheriff's best buddy - a short-barrel shotgun, but I won't. This is one I'd watch at least a couple more times.
I'd like to rate "Gun the Man Down" (1956) at 3/4 or 7.5/10. This is a
high-quality western in all respects and definitely one that shouldn't
be overlooked. This was a Batjac production (John Wayne's company), and
its level of quality is typically high.
James Arness stars as a reluctant bank robber in with Robert Wilke and Don Megowan. Angie Dickinson debuts as Arness's girl who's been around the saloon circuit. The robbery (not shown) goes wrong with Arness being shot, The others leave him behind, with Dickinson not wanting to leave him. Arness goes to jail for a year and upon release vows to find the lot of them.
There is one sequence (series of scenes) in this movie that is outstanding, almost achieving classic status. This occurs when a gunslinger (Michael Emmet), who is a friend of Arness, is paid $5,000 by Wilke to kill him and slowly trods through the small town hunting for him. Everything is done beautifully here: pacing, staging, deep focus shots, editing and emotional content.
The rest of the film is likewise done in an accomplished way by director Andrew V. McLaglen, son of actor Victor McLaglen. McLaglen would go on to specialize in westerns, directing Arness in 96 episodes of "Gunsmoke" and Richard Boone in 116 episodes of "Have Gun - Will Travel." The music of Henry Vars combines classic western sounds with themes that draw from great classical composers. Cinematographer William Clothier provided a very sure hand behind the camera. He too specialized in westerns, often of a darker-themed sort, and a smattering of noirs. This movie looks very good in its widescreen edition. Angie Dickinson certainly holds her own amid the experienced cast, and her role is not an easy one. She has always taken on challenging roles that required subtle shadings of character, and her good work has probably not been fully appreciated.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I remember this movie from long ago & have read comments on it & must agree it is boring & predictable, however i would watch it again because i am a fan of James Arness & like nearly all western movies. It is rather comical that they were so cheap on the making of the film & that John Wayne produced the movie is most remarkable. James Arness I think did his best work on Gunsmoke anyway, & he was not destined to became a major movie star. I think with Angie Dickinson & Wilkes the other co-star that the movie could have been much better & should have had lots more western action in it. But alas it will be just another B western movie. Thank you
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