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Bart Allison arrives in Sundown planning to kill Tate Kimbrough. Three years earlier he believed Kimbrough was responsible for the death of his wife. He finds Kimbrough and warns him he is going to kill him but gets pinned down in the livery stable with his friend Sam by Kimbrough's stooge Sheriff and his men. When Sam is shot in the back after being told he could leave safely, some of the townsmen change sides and disarm the Sheriff's men forcing him to face Allison alone. Taking care of the Sheriff, Allison injures his gun hand and must now face Kimbrough left-handed. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
This often ignored Randy Scott western, directed by Budd Boetticher, plays almost as a dark comedy at times, though that is not the intent of the director or the writers. Scott, fine actor he was, makes every line count, enunciating effectively for full impact. He and his long-time pal--it's hinted they served together in the Confederacy during the Civil War--meet up just outside a town appropriately named Sundown. Bart Allison (Randy Scott) points his rifle at the stagecoach drivers after forcing them to let him off and tells them to get going because he and his friend Sam (Noah Beery Jr.), who just showed up to give him his horse, are headed a different direction. No sooner do they reach Sundown than they make enemies and friends by letting it be known that they do not like the groom in a wedding that's about to take place. When asked by the justice of the peace if anyone has a reason why the wedding shouldn't take place, Allison warns the groom that he is going to kill him. Then all Hell breaks loose. Allison and Sam run to the livery stable and hold up there for a large part of the movie. In the process Allison learns more than he wants to know about his deceased wife whose death he blames on the erstwhile groom.
The groom Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll) controls Sundown and the law. John Carroll was sort of a poor man's Clark Gable. Usually his acting was somewhat mediocre but when given the right part he could make it shine. One of his best roles was in the B western "Old Los Angeles" starring Wild Bill Elliott where he played a two-faced gunslinger who wormed his way to the top. Carroll does a topnotch job in "Decision at Sundown" in particular toward the end when he's determined to face Allison rather than be run out of town. The cast, made up of many film veterans such as Bob Steele, John Litel (Nancy Drew's father), Ray Teal, and Guy Wilkerson, makes a good showing. Karen Steele, who plays the frustrated bride, turns in a good performance, especially when she confronts Allison in the livery stable.
The title "Decision at Sundown" is a bit misleading. Really it should be "Decisions at Sundown," because the crux of the story centers on the denizens of the little community making their on decisions rather than be at the mercy of Tate Kimbrough and his henchmen. Yet even Kimbrough must make a momentous decision. At times the decisions made are deadly ones, such as when Sam decides to tell Allison the truth about his wife. THE decision of the title refers to Allison's. Or is it indecision? That depends on how the viewer interprets Allison's motives and moves. What he finally decides is probably the only way out for him. The best decisions are made by the citizens of Sundown. Allison and Sam serve merely as catalysts
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