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|Index||31 reviews in total|
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
*** 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.
*** 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.
Disappointing Roger Corman western about a woman (Beverly Garland) who becomes marshal after her husband, the previous marshal, is killed. She clashes with saloon owner Allison Hayes and falls for hired gun John Ireland before her hubby's cold in the ground. This should have been great but, unfortunately, it isn't much fun. It needs more scenes like the cat fight between Garland and Hayes near the beginning. Basically it's just a routine oater with the novelty of a woman being the marshal. If you really want to see a western from the 1950s with badass female characters and significant cheese appeal, see Johnny Guitar. This one is pretty boring.
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