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The town of Warlock is plagued by a gang of thugs, leading the inhabitants to hire Clay Blaisdell, a famous gunman, to act as marshal. When Blaisdell appears, he is accompanied by his friend Tom Morgan, a club-footed gambler who is unusually protective of Blaisdell's life and reputation. However, Johnny Gannon, one of the thugs who has reformed, volunteered to accept the post of official sheriff in rivalry to Blaisdell; and a woman arrives in town accusing Blaisdell and Morgan of having murdered her fiance. The stage is set for a complex set of moral and personal conflicts. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
At around 1:12:20, Fonda is made to draw his gun, when he goes to put it back in the holster, he clearly misses the holster and gets it right on the second try. As a gunfighter he was obviously better at getting his gun out of the holster than putting it back. See more »
The oddly named WARLOCK (the name of the unincorporated town in which the story takes place) pits aging gun-for-hire Henry Fonda against a gang of yahoos who have run off Warlock's deputy sheriff and killed a barber in cold blood. To complicate matters, town resident Richard Widmark, whose brother (Frank Gorshin) is one of those yahoos, agrees to replace the missing deputy sheriff and this pits him against Fonda, who is not an official officer of the law. Making matters worse is the arrival of Fonda's lifelong friend, played by Anthony Quinn, who runs a traveling saloon and is in cahoots with the bad guys. Widmark holds his own against the ever-stoic Fonda, and Quinn plays a really complex character with physical and mental problems who has shared a woman with Fonda (Dorothy Malone) and has awfully strong feelings toward Fonda. And I don't mean Jane. The film takes awhile getting anywhere, but you can play spot-the-character actor during the more boring moments. The cast is a veritable who's-who of old-time Western character actors, and the movie was made during a (mercifully) short-lived period where Hollywood was churning out big-budget, color, widescreen (and sometimes 3-D) flicks to try to compete with the latest home technology, television. At the time, Hollywood believed TV would hurt box office receipts. A lot of these films -- but not WARLOCK -- weren't worth the film they were printed on. And as we now know, TV only whetted the appetite of many viewers for more movie-going. I just saw the Cinemascope-shot WARLOCK presented on AMC in the antique pan-and-scan method rather than more modern letterbox format, which made for some very awkward sequences where not everyone fit on screen at the same time. Try to catch this on DVD instead.
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