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Blaise Starrett is a rancher at odds with homesteaders when outlaws hold up the small town. The outlaws are held in check only by their notorious leader, but he is diagnosed with a fatal wound and the town is a powder keg waiting to blow.
An authoritarian rancher, Barbara Stanwyck, who rules an Arizona county with her private posse of hired guns. When a new marshall arrives to set things straight, the cattle queen finds herself falling, brutally for the avowedly non-violent lawman. Both have itchy-fingered brothers, a female gunmaker enters the picture, and things go desperately wrong. Written by
When the gunsmith is fitting Wes for a new rifle, she had him holding the stock from a model 1898 Mauser which would not have been invented for another 20 years. Then Wes also picks up a Winchester barreled action and looks through it to see the lady gunsmith, which is not possible due to there being no straight line of sight through the action. See more »
"I never thought I'd love a gunsmith." "Any recoil?"
I often record films off TCM or other film channels and I'll nearly always record westerns. Often I don't get past the first few minutes but every now and then I come across a real classic. I wasn't aware of this film or its cult status when I watched it so I was able to form an opinion without a prior bias.
Firstly I was impressed by the opening scene of Barbara Stanwyck and her forty horsemen thundering across the screen and richness of the black and white cinematography. The film itself immediately grabbed my interest and the dialogue was at times cheesy, at times full of sexual innuendo, but always interesting. It was only when it came to a scene where the Bonnell brothers are walking through Tombstone that I realised I was watching a single shot that went on and on and on. There's no merit in doing long tracking shots just for the hell of it but this was something that worked beautifully.
The composition of many shots and their realisation was quite magnificent and I would love to see this on a big screen now. One scene where a widow is shot from below and there is a long pan past the hearse to a singer under a tree and back again puts most modern music videos to shame.
It has to be said that this is also one of the silliest and campest films ever made with its emphasis, not to mention song, on a "high riding woman with a whip". The general fondling of firearms and sexual references are so blatant that it seems surprising that this film wasn't universally condemned by the usual suspects on its release.
I was also impressed by the cast who weren't what you might expect for a western. I especially liked Barry Sullivan's pre-Leone, pre-Eastwood portrayal of the gunslinger.
All in all a complete delight. I'm looking forward to watching it again.
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