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Russ Tamblyn, later to star as a grown up delinquent in Satan's Sadists,
here plays a disaffected youth who falls in with the wrong crowd back in
1897. The Young Guns is a bizarre mix of genres, even including a prologue
directly linking the perceived juvenile problems of the 50s with the Old
West! There's even some noirish cinematography courtesy Ellsworth
Fredericks, who lensed Invasion of the Body Snatchers the same year. Scott
Marlowe plays the remote but caring sheriff who tries to get young Russ away
from The Bunch, a gang of young tearaways who like to rob banks instead of
stealing hub caps.
All in all, an odd film that never really gets going, but remains strangely watchable.
Tully Rice is a teenager trying to get a break in life but saddled with
an image gained from his father being the infamous bank robber Mark
Rice. With his father hanged, Tully is working in a local store but
cracks under constant pushing from the local deputy. The sheriff tries
to help him out by finding him another job, but Tully rides out of town
after a girl he met.
He finds himself staying with her and her extended family a group of teenagers who carry out minor robberies and such. As time passes Tully finds himself drawn into the gang and put in position where he must decide the path he will follow.
I watched this western because the title caught my eye in the TV guide and then the story sounded a bit modern for a western setting and my curiosity was raised. The plot is very much a case of 'Cowboy without a Cause' in that it mixes the 1950's 'disaffected youth' films with a traditional western feel. The film has the unmistakable feel of both genres and I was surprised by how well they seemed to mix even if the 1950's youth element took away a little from the feel of the film as a western. At first I thought that the modern parallels would make for a bad film but they work pretty well and make for an interesting story. The western stuff is merely a twist rather than an integral part of the film and I'm not sure just how much fact this film actually has in it despite it's claim to be essentially a true story.
The cast are all OK and is mostly a load of sullen teenagers giving the performances they had seen in other films of the genre. Tamblyn is a little bit bland and never really convinced me that he had a really dark side that he was battling against throughout the film. Talbott is a bit better and works her emotional stuff to better effect while the support cast has reasonable turns from Marlowe, Lopez and Barnes.
Overall this is a rather strange mix of genres but it works better than I expected it to. Outside of the curiosity value of this mix, the film does work pretty well as both a western and an 'affected youth' B-movie it is fun but trashy and I found it enjoyable despite acknowledging it's limitations. As another user commented, the cinematography is good and is responsible for making some bits feel like a western but making other bits feel like there's going to be a knife fight or a game of chicken at any moment! Not a great movie but interesting and quite fun.
In 1987 Wyoming, 1950s-styled young Russ Tamblyn (as Tully Rice) tries
to be nice, hard-working and law-abiding. Still, local town-folk
antagonize Mr. Tamblyn because his father was a notorious gunslinger.
He gets into fights and is run out of town. Tamblyn drifts over to a
nearby western community called "Black Crater". There, he re-encounters
snuggly-attired Gloria Talbott (as Nora Bowdre), who is the daughter of
a notorious gunslinger. They would like to kiss and be nice,
law-abiding citizens, but Tamblyn keeps getting into fights with local
juvenile delinquent types. This is a confusing mix of the western and
rebellious youth genres. The supporting characters blend together, with
Scott Marlowe (as Knox Cutler) arguably emerging as the main
antagonist. More interesting are old gunslinger Chubby Johnson (as Tom
"Ringo" Jones) and grandson Wright King (as Jonesy). The
black-and-white photography, by Ellsworth Fredricks, is a plus.
**** The Young Guns (9/16/56) Albert Band ~ Russ Tamblyn, Gloria Talbott, Scott Marlowe, Wright King
"In 1897, just as today, many public spirited citizens were aroused by
the problems of delinquency among the youth of various
communities...This story of one such community is based on fact."
Intriguing opening salvo by the makers of The Young Guns, unfortunately the film never quite reaches the dramatic heights it aims for.
Russ Tamblyn plays a young fella who eventually gets fed up of being tarred with the bad seed family brush. Seeking solace in a community of like minded youngsters, he tries to keep the peace even as he rises to be the top man.
It's all very safe and unremarkable really. Some of the youthful cast are guilty of auto-cue acting and Tamblyn is barely convincing. On the plus side there's plenty of angst about the place, hormonal and machismo wise, some punch-ups are handled neatly by director Albert Band, the black and white photography (Ellsworth Fredricks) is textured nicely and the finale - whilst totally expected - is delivered in a none insulting fashion. 6/10
Cheap combination of western and teenage rebel flick doesn't work in either genre. Lead Russ Tamblyn doesn't pull off the "troubled youth" bit at all, head bad guy Scott Marlowe's aping of James Dean works even less, and the "gang" of youthful miscreants is about as threatening as The Jets from Tamblyn's later "West Side Story". The producers were smart enough to get a good supporting cast--Walter Coy, Myron Healey, Rayford Barnes--of familiar faces who know their stuff, which is more than you can say for the rest of the cast. Hack writing, amateurish acting, poorly staged "action", sloppy direction--this low-rent programmer has it all. Nothing to write home about. You can do worse than watching this, but you can do a whole lot better, too.
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