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24 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Original B-western

Author: pzanardo ( from Padova, Italy
15 March 2004

Two tough women, one good one bad, dominate "Gunslinger", a nice B western, early work by Roger Corman. In spite of being so patently low-budgeted and made in a rush, the movie have several things to its credit. First of all, a considerable originality for the 1950s. The woman marshal Rose (Beverly Garland) is an uncommon character in western movies, all the more her outstanding guts and toughness. The early scene, when she shoots dead the killer during her husband's funeral service, is a shocker which, in some sense, sets the gutsy standard of the film. Personally, I never saw such an unexpected scene elsewhere. Fine stuff. Rose's counterpart is the cruel Erica (Allison Hayes), always ready to murder anyone interfering with her dirty schemes. She is uncommonly bad for a female character. These two beautiful mortal enemies are related in a love triangle with the gunslinger Cane Myro (John Ireland). I like this character, entangled in a Greek-tragedy-like strait of being hired to kill the woman he loves. John Ireland, slouching along with his dark suit, cold eyes, sad fixed grin, cynical sense of humor, is perfect for the role. In my opinion he makes a first-rate job, even too good for an unpretentious B-movie. The romantic scenes with Myro and Rose have an intensity which makes a fine contrast with the merely carnal interchange between Erica and the gunslinger. A remarkable sexy aura permeates a number of scenes, mainly thanks to three sensational saloon-girls. Even the final general killing, though far-fetched, has the merit to be non-standard. The tough, dry dialogue is praise-worthy, Garland and Hayes act adequately, and there is some good camera work (rarely, to be honest). Several sub-plots give a fast pace to the narration. It is almost impossible to get bored. After all, that's the main purpose of a B-movie, isn't it?

Unfortunately, sometimes "Gunslinger" is non-standard for goofiness, as well. An early take is so mistaken that I even suspect to be a director's deliberate choice. We see the pony-express starting from a stage-post, in theory some ten days far from Oracle, the village where the action takes place. Few seconds later he rides close to a big tree, under which we see the funeral service of the murdered marshal, in Oracle! And we have many takes of rushing horses, patently in "fast-motion". What's the point of such useless stupidity? Two potentially exciting scenes, namely the fist-fight between Rose and Erica and the attempt of the three saloon-girls to lynch Rose, are marred by a very poor editing. We find several faults in the cut of the movie, as well.

Anyway, I go back to my main point. The two pretty tough girls are exciting, the romance is pleasant, the flick is entertaining and presents some interest for a study of B-movies.

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Roger Corman's magnum opus!

Author: Brian Manville (Sterno-2) from Frederick, MD
21 December 1999

I'll admit that I don't expect much from a Roger Corman film. Generally, I expect a lot of walking and bad scripts. Yet in this case, I am pleasantly surprised.

The Gunslinger is a story of a woman (played by the spunky Beverly Garland) who takes over as sheriff after her husband is brutally murdered. Ms. Garland is a pretty good shot herself, killing one of the murderers the next day at her husband's funeral. Her first task is to shut down the local bar that is violating the town curfew. The bar's owner is trying to buy land in anticipation of being bought out by the (hoped-for) railroad. However, Ms. Garland is a thorn in her plans, and the bar matron hires a man to kill Ms. Garland.

Because of Ms. Garland's plays her role honestly and realistically, there is absolutely no temptation to go to Suzanne Somers "She's the Sheriff" jokes. With the exception of a couple of faux pas (the apartment door that opens OUT from the inside, jeep tracks, and the two horsemen waiting on screen for their cue to ride around a corner), the movie becomes quite passable as movie fare. However, Corman could not resist padding his film with horse riding scenes, much like he does walking in other films.

Sterno says The Gunslinger is a horse opera worth your time.

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15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Funslinger more likely!

Author: Juha Hämäläinen from Finland
11 April 2007

Being a big fan of Corman's horror movies I expected from his western a bit more than I got. Well, I was entertained all right. I had almost as many laughs as watching Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.

See the spectacle of mobile tire tracks on the prairie of the old west. You can kill time by counting them if there happens to be an otherwise boring scene going on. And the horses seem to have gears in them too, considered the fast-forward chases. See also the swinging bar room queens of the traditional wild west saloon doing a number that reminds of a certain fashionable dance from 1920's, here decades before the style was invented. Hope the saloon around them won't crumple.

In the middle of all this mayhem the main actors do a decent job. Ireland, Garland and Hayes are all truly fine. A special praise for them for doing the best they could with the material that seems mostly having been lifted from 'Johnny Guitar', but doesn't quite impress the same way. But there is really nothing wrong with a laughable western like this. Just like a really bad old horror movie, it might fail one way but succeeds to give joy anyway. That is one of the reasons Corman's work appeals to me and that is why I dare to recommend you to experience this movie if you get the chance.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: InzyWimzy from Queens, NY
14 November 2000

Beverly Garland is the only reason I gave this a good rating. She acts very well and is very pleasing to watch.

Other than that, typical Roger Corman production. Lots of mediocre actors, lack of continuity, lots of women displaying themselves, making out, and humorous scenes when not meant to be humorous. I love Bev's stoic reaction in the beginning. Plus, the whiny barkeep guy was so kooky and annoying. He got his just desserts. Interesting situation: boy meets girl, boy was hired to kill girl, boy falls for girl, girl falls for boy, boy and girl get into shootout.

We do have fun.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Interesting Early Corman Effort!

Author: ( from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
10 January 2003

"Gunslinger" was an early "B" western drama from Producer/Director Roger Corman. Shot in color on a shoestring budget, it is nevertheless an interesting little western.

When Rose Hood's (Beverly Garland) husband the Marshal is murdered, she is forced to strap on a gunbelt and take over his job. The local saloon madam Erica Page (Alison Hayes) feels threatened, she sends her lovesick bartender Jake (Jonathon Haze) to hire a gunslinger to kill the marshal. All in black gunfighter Cane Miro (John Ireland) rides into town to take on the job. It seems that Cane also has an axe to grind with the town's mayor (Martin Kingsley). Of course Cane becomes attracted to Rose and she to him. Cane is torn between the two women. But he ultimately succumbs to his dark side and the finale involves the final shootout between Rose and Cane.

Corman adds a few little twists that make this film a cut above your average "B" western. First there is a female villain in Erica and a knock down drag out fight between herself and Rose. Next there is a sequence where the three saloon girls try to lynch Rose. There is also an excellent scrap involving Ireland and Chris Alcaide playing the deputy Joshua.

The acting is above average for a Corman picture of this period. Garland, always one of my personal western gals, is good in the lead. Ireland, always under rated, is excellent as the title character. Alison Hayes makes a chilling villain and Corman regular Haze is quite good as the simple minded Jake.

This film is certainly worth a look.

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20 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

This movie did not like itself

Author: Inthegoodlife from Jacksonville, FL
19 February 2002

Gunslinger is a dreary movie that feels more like an exercise in self-persecution then a typical western. The plot is about a sheriff's wife who takes over after her husband is gunned down. She has until the new marshall comes to town to find out who killed her husband and to crack down on the town's lawless element. The leader of the lawless element, Erica Page, played by Allison Hayes, hires a hitman, played by John Ireland, to kill the lady sheriff, played by Beverly Garland. He falls in love with her instead. A lot of nice elements are floating around in this movie but are not properly exploited. John Ireland stumbles around (fitting as he is a drunk) but never is given enough dramatic moments to make his character dynamic. He's instead forced to play the drunk with a heart sort of made of gold. Even that angle completely loses credibility by the end. He comes off as more of a whiner and complainer then a cold blooded hitman. His character is also way too sympathetic and is virtually a hero up until the end. Beverly Garland fits in almost too well in her role as the new sheriff, Rose. She seems almost too comfortable and settled in her 'strong woman can compete in a man's world' role and loses credibility. It could have been nice to see moments of uncertainty and self-doubt which would naturally occur when going from a sheriff's wife to a sheriff in an instant but the movie never touches on it. The backbone of Gunslinger is Allison Hayes. Her portrayal of Erica Page is cold blooded and inhuman, a perfect bad girl. Jonathan Haze as Jake has his moments but is a little stiff. He and Jerry Lewis on the same stage would have been something interesting to see. Psychology flies around like a ping pong ball in Gunslinger but isn't played up enough. Ireland's character could also have been given more moments to show some crazy cool but he mostly just fumbles around in his vendetta against the mayor of the town. Too many sub plots also hurt this movie as just about everyone has an issue. It would take many hours to properly elaborate on all the elements the movie presents so some are skimmed over (such as how Erica Page convinced Jake she was in love with him). The main plot, the Beverly Garland/John Ireland love interest, is also itself overshadowed by the Cane Miro/Mayor Polk conflict, which unnecessarily takes up screen time. Featuring a cast who deserved better, Gunslinger is not very dramatic, pretty sadistic and very, very dreary.


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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Roger Corman goes West

Author: Mike Sh. ( from Lowell MA
14 April 2001

Roger Corman, alternately lionized as a visionary filmmaker limited by low budgets and tight production schedules, and berated as an overrated producer of shoddy cliche-ridden movies, tries his hand at a Western. Here he seems to be trying to make a brooding adult Western of the Anthony Mann type, but as good as John Ireland is, he just ain't no James Stewart. The bargain basement production values don't help (it's obvious that this movie was made very quickly on a shoestring budget), and the overall look and feel of the film is oppressively gloomy. (Apparently this was due in part to bad weather during filming.)

On the plus side, this movie does have Beverly Garland (r-r-r-owrr!) and Alison Hayes (va-va-va-voom!). These two will help distract the viewer's attention from the sight of Bruno Vesota waddling about and looking shifty.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

unusual and entertaining Roger Corman western

Author: alexandre michel liberman (tmwest) from S. Paulo, Brazil
14 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the type of western I would give everything to see when I was a kid, but would not be allowed (it would be restricted for minors) because of scenes with violence and sex. And considering the prudishness and the clichés of the good guy vs bad guy westerns of the fifties, Roger Corman knew how to make it different , even though he had a small budget (the film was shot in less than a week) and borrowed from some other films (Duel in the Sun in the final shoot out and Destry Rides Again with the women fighting in the saloon). Rose, the Marshal (Beverly Garland) kills people like she is killing flies, and Cane Miro (John Ireland) the main male character is very far from what you what call a good guy. Add to that a really mean woman, Erica (Allison Hayes) and you can be sure you will never get bored. The sexy scenes consist only of kissing, but they are sexier than the more explicit ones that you see in most movies today.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Interesting but Flawed

Author: bensonmum2 from Tennessee
21 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

- When the local sheriff is killed, his wife takes over until and is determined to clean-up the town. Not everyone in town, however, is happy with what she's doing. When the sheriff orders a curfew in town, the local saloon owner (also a woman) hires a killer to take care of the sheriff. There's no way the saloon owner could know that the sheriff and the killer would fall in love.

- Gunslinger is an example of what happens when you have a fairly interesting concept and combine it with poor execution. There's a good movie here somewhere trying to get out. In more capable hands or with a larger budget, Gunslinger might have been an entertaining look at the role of women in the Old West. As it is, Gunslinger is a sloppy mess of a movie.

- There are just so many things wrong with the movie: a supporting cast with no acting ability, stilted and unnatural dialogue, and sets that look like sets. But the biggest offender is the editing. I was amazed at how many times a scene would begin with the actors (and horses for that matter) obviously waiting for Corman to yell "Action". The best is the scene of two riders on horseback just standing beside a building. All of a sudden, they take off and come racing around the corner like they had been riding hard for several miles. Or, take the example of people who can seemingly transport themselves across town. We see a man enter a building and a second later emerge across town to mount his horse.

- It's not as if Corman didn't have a few decent actors to work with. While none were great stars, Beverly Garland, John Ireland, and Allison Hayes were all capable of turning in a good performance. But, in Gunslinger, they're not given much to work with.

- I have now seen both the MST3K and non-MST3K versions of the movie. I would strongly recommend going the MST3K route.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Lady With A Star!

Author: zardoz-13 from United States
11 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When two gunmen blast the town marshal of Oracle, Texas, in an ambush, the marshal's widow not only kills the shooter, but she also takes over her dead husband's job to track down the accomplice and discover who paid them. Low-budget producer & director Roger Corman cut a different trail with the off-beat 1956 western "Gunslinger" by making the western hero into a heroine. This represents one of the earliest examples of a feminist horse opera. Beverly Garland stars as Ruth Hood, the widow who wears the star and lays down the law, at least for a week until her replacement arrives. Chiefly, "Gunslinger" illustrates the theme of women versus women. The marshal's wife and an ambitious female entrepreneur saloon owner go toe-to-toe so women versus women qualifies as the foremost theme of "Gunslinger." Meanwhile, our heroine defies the social patriarchal order when she appropriates her husband's badge to finish the job that he started. The least prevalent theme is women versus men, though Ruth tangles with several guys and guns them down. Corman designed "Gunslinger" as a different kind of movie and could only have been thinking of attracting a female audience as well as dyed-in-the-leather western movie fans. The Charles Griffith & Mark Hanna script unfolds in chronological fashion, charting a week in the life of Oracle, Texas, as the heroine and the villainess await a decision by a railroad firm about whether it will build its rail lines through the town as well as when the new marshal will arrive.

The most important theme in "Gunslinger" is women versus women. The entire movie is a showdown between two women with neither prepared to give an inch. When Ruth Hood brings her husband, Marshal Scott Hood (William Schallert of "Hour of the Gun"), her breakfast, she has no idea that two gunmen working for Erica Page (Allison Hayes of "The Steel Jungle") who runs the Red Dog Saloon are poised to kill him. Scott tells Ruth that he has been out all night trying to track down a killer Nate Signal. Erica Page's name comes up in the conversation because she warned him about Marshal Hood's interest in him and got away from the lawman could catch him. Ruth sees Erica as the source of all the trouble in Oracle. Scott shrugs and asks his wife, "How, who in the world could stand up to that woman?" Ruth asserts that she could stand up to Erica. Before his husband dies, Ruth has indicated that she can stand up against Erica, foreshadowing their feud. At Scott's funeral, Ruth shoots the gunman standing alongside Erica and goads Mayor Gideon Polk into pinning the badge on her so she can smoke out the murderer. When Polk suggests that the two men did it alone, Ruth rejects this theory. Neither one knew her husband well enough to want to kill him. No, she contends that somebody else hired them and the guilty party had a reason to want her husband dead. She plans to remain marshal until she find the person behind the murder of her husband. Later, after Scott dies, Ruth imposed the curfew on Erica's saloon that Scott had not enforced so that Erica has to close up at 3 AM. Following the funeral and Ruth being sworn in as marshal, Ruth visits the Red Dog Saloon. When Erica refuses to shut down, Ruth and she have a brief fight and Ruth knocks her out. and forces Erica to shut down after 3 AM.

Indeed, the entire plot of "Gunslinger" concerns the rivalry between Ruth as lawman and Erica as an entrepreneur who wants to own the land that the railroad will have to cross before it arrives in town. The second most important theme in "Gunslinger" is women versus society. The mayor isn't overly enthusiastic about swearing Ruth in as marshal to replace her husband. Ruth's deputy shares the mayor's sentiment. He observes as she is buckling on her gun belt, "I reckon some people won't thing it proper for a new widow to go around in pants, even if they are black." Ruth retorts, "Did you ever see a peace officer in a corset?" This reflects the feeling that the men and women of the Oracle, or what constitutes the society, won't feel good about a woman taking over a man's job. Similarly, Erica finds herself up against the same prejudice when Mayor Polk visits her saloon after hours one evening. Polk has discovered when he pored over the deeds in the land office that Erica has extended her notes on property. In fact, Erica is buying up property that has been selected by the land commission as the suggested right of way for the railroad depot. Polk believes that Erica's gamble is "the height of speculation. He reminds her that the railroad doesn't have to come through Oracle. "Of course," he points out, "you realize how the town will feel if . . ." The implication is that the citizens of Oracle won't like Erica's highhandedness. Erica replies, "Sometimes I lie awake at night two or three seconds worrying about it." Clearly, Erica doesn't care what society thinks about her.

Ranking third is the theme of women versus men. Erica hires a professional gunslinger, Cane Miro (John Ireland of "Red River") to kill Ruth, but Cane is not in any hurry to earn his three thousand dollars. Meanwhile, Ruth proves her mettle against men by gunning down the assailant that murdered Scott in the first scene. Later, at Scott's funeral, Ruth slings dirt into a gunman's face, snatches a deputy's six-gun and blasts the man. As it turns out, Ruth recognized the man at the funeral as the accomplice. Later, Ruth guns down a bank robber. After she meets Cane, she gives him five days to clear out of town. "Gunslinger" is a top-notch feminist western from the late 1950s that thrusts a woman into a role usually reserved for men.

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