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Comanche Creek, Colorado, 1875: Prisoner Jack Mason is broken out of jail by a gang of strangers. They use him in a robbery, then when the dead-or-alive reward is high enough, they shoot him and collect. The National Detective Agency, now knowing the gang's methods, arranges to have agent Bob Gifford jailed in Comanche Creek for train robbery. The gang takes the bait (not before Gifford catches the eye of lovely saloon-keeper Abbie). But how will the bait get off the hook? Written by
Mike O'Brien, Chief National Detective Agency:
Now, let's go over what we know so far. We're faced with a shrewd and ruthless gang of outlaws. Their operation is clever and deadly. They wait until a man with a price on his head is jailed, then spring him and use him as a front man for a series of holdups...making sure he is the only one ever recognized. The reward keeps going up. When it reaches three or four thousand dollars, the man is killed. Somebody is hired to collect the reward.
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Gunfight at Comanche Creek is directed by Frank McDonald and written by Edward Bernds. It stars Audie Murphy, Ben Cooper, Colleen Miller, DeForest Kelley and Jan Merlin. A Panavision/De Luxe Color production with cinematography by Joseph Biroc and music by Marlin Skiles.
Murphy stars as an agent for the National Detective Agency who goes undercover to find the outlaw gang that has been breaking convicts out of jail to help them to commit more crimes. The resulting crimes cause the bounties upon the fugitives' heads to rise, thus the outlaws then kill the convicts and claim the rewards.
Apparently a remake of 1957 film The Last of the Badmen, Gunfight at Comanche Creek is a suspenseful and entertaining blend of detective shenanigans with Western staples. It's an interesting role for Murphy, playing Bob Gifford (AKA: Judd Tanner) as a fearless ladies man having to just use his wits instead of guns just to survive the undercover operation. It's not exactly what you would call a high energy action movie, since we don't really get the pulse raised until the finale, but there's enough twists and intelligence in the plotting to keep the story intriguing.
Negatives? There's a continuous narration by an uncredited Reed Hadley which is most intrusive. Instead of letting us be involved fully with the unfolding story, the makers felt the need to have Reed fill us in on what is happening at every turn in the plot! Clearly they were going for a hard-boiled detective angle, but it's misplaced. While Miller is saddled with one of those token female roles. But the support cast do what is required to make the film work, Murphy delivers a good one for his fans and Biroc's colour photography is very easy on the eye. 7/10
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