Army veterans, just mustered out of the service, are going to the one of the men's brothers ranch on their way West. Just as they arrive, Indians attack the ranch and kill the brother. The brother was killed because he was using faulty ammunition that did not fire. Buck Devlin, whose brother was killed, musters out of the service with pals John and Wilbur and vows to find the men responsible for the crime. Written by
"Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend" Is A Bad Movie With No Shoot-Out
"Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend" is a 1957 Randolph Scott Western that is plain terrible. There is no real shoot out in this movie, just a movie with a disjointed script and a bunch of actors playing their parts like moving statues. Scott had made a bunch of Westerns at Warner Bros. in the early 1950s, usually with Andre DeToth or Edwin Marin as the director and usually in Technicolor. "Shoot-Out" has centenarian director Richard Bare (100 years one week ago, August 12, 2013, a belated Happy Birthday) and Bare directs this movie like it was a long episode of a TV series. Filmed in black and white, not expensive Technicolor.
A major plot element of this movie involves Scott and his Army buddies pretending to be Quakers to work undercover to find out who sold Scott's brother bad rifle ammunition. I wonder if the writer saw the movie "Friendly Persuasion" in 1956. Another plot element is that the town of Medicine Bend is isolated from everywhere, so the crook who runs the town can rob wagon trains passing through, travelers like Scott and anyone else with total impunity. There are no marshals, no lawmen in other towns and no newspapers printing stories about these robberies.
Beautiful Angie Dickinson plays the daughter of a general store owner. She goes through the motions but she doesn't have that angry look you see sometimes on Randolph Scott's face, as if he is wondering what he is doing in this cheap movie directed by an incompetent. I am pretty sure Scott fired his agent after Scott starred in this movie. James Craig plays the villain in this movie, a businessman who owns almost every business in Medicine Bend. Craig's movie career had tanked by the time he made "Shoot-Out," a long way from Craig's starring role in 1942's "The Devil And Daniel Webster." The abrupt way Craig pops in and out of the movie makes me think that all of his scenes were shot bunched together, so Warner Bros. could pay him for the least amount of weeks' wages possible. That cheapness would explain this movie being shot in black and white, less chance of lab problems requiring reshoots after Craig finished all his scenes. In the 1950s, studio boss Jack Warner had reached the zenith of his cheapness. Every dollar not spent by Warner on this movie shows up on the screen.
Something else I really did not like about this Western is that while through most of the movie, the criminals restricted themselves to robbery, at the end, they are busy planning murders. One possible reason for the change could be the way Scott's character killed one of the gang. Scott never made another movie for Warner Bros. after this picture and I can understand why. As I have written before, "Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend" is a very bad movie.
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