When Confederate soldier Matt Weaver returns to town after the Civil War, he finds that his home has been sold by town boss Sam Brewster. Brewster hires gunfighter Jules Gaspard d'Estaing ... See full summary »
When Confederate soldier Matt Weaver returns to town after the Civil War, he finds that his home has been sold by town boss Sam Brewster. Brewster hires gunfighter Jules Gaspard d'Estaing to deal with Weaver, but d'Estaing's independent approach settles the town's problems in a very unorthodox manner. Written by
I've killed so many men in the last four years, one more don't matter none. Tell me...you pass up your chance, why should I pass up mine?
Jules Gaspard d'Estaing:
Truce for the night.
Oh...oh, and you believe when they say I'm crazy?
Jules Gaspard d'Estaing:
So am I. You know it's a funny thing...a man crazy to live takes a chance and dies; a man who doesn't care takes the same chance and gets away with it. That's called Jules Gaspard's Law.
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"Invitation to a Gunfighter" is a film searching for a consistent tone. By turns it's stilted, silly and melodramatic, and the result is mostly just confusing. The kernels of a very good movie are present, but often left "unpopped." For example, the town is initially portrayed as morally upright, and Brynner's character as amoral, and the film tries to flip this on its head. The trouble is, we rarely see anything to prove this; instead, we're forced to fill in the blanks ourselves from sparse pieces of (vague) dialogue. The story is so buried in subtext and so much is not shown that scenes like Yul Brynner's drunken rampage is robbed of its dramatic potential because we haven't seen anything that would seem to justify it. On it's own, that could have been a powerful idea, since Brynner's character is given a back-story like nothing these townsfolk have ever known, but in that case, the movie devotes far too much time to the troubles of the townsfolk instead of focusing on Brynner's inner turmoil.
The acting is all over the board in this one, as well. Brynner's performance can't be faulted; he's his usual simmering, silent presence, but seems miscast in a role which could have been quite interesting if it weren't so poorly-written. Janice Rule seems confused in her role as Ruth Adams (and well she should be, forced to serve as the love interest between--count them--three men, all trying to kill each other at some point or another), and spends most of it looking vaguely sad and disinterested, and Pat Hingle is neither evil enough nor serious enough to make a compelling villain. Clifford David fares better as the perpetually angry Crane, and George Segal, as the unfortunate Matt Weaver, is just about the only member of the cast that seems to have any idea what he's doing. The rest of the townsfolk are a mixture of clichés and stereotypes that make it seem as though Yul Brynner mistakenly wandered onto the set of "Blazing Saddles." Brynner's presence, and the multi-layered, operatic scale of the plot might warrant repeat viewings, and the film should be credited for trying to tackle weighty issues of morality and racism, but ultimately "Gunfighter" misses its mark. The classic mantra in storytelling is "show, don't tell," and this film doesn't do that, rendering what should have been a very good movie into a very mediocre one.
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