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This film shows a cruel west. There is a scene where Judge Roy Bean is shown presiding the court, and the fact that he looks like a good hearted old man contrasts sharply with his sadistic way of giving the sentence. It also has cruel gunfighters like Billy Pimple with his stupid laugh and a voice like someone who is still in puberty. When Cass Dunning (Richard Lapp) is arriving to Silver City he meets Billy who tells him to be careful about wearing his guns in town. He implies that if one is not able to use them, one should not wear them. Cass thinks he is great at the draw and he is willing to prove it. He ends up rescuing Nellie (Anne Randall) from the whorehouse and they are married by the Judge Roy Bean. After that we get the best moment of the film. The couple meets Jesse James (Audie Murphy), Frank James and Bob Ford. If ever one actor could play Jesse James at this mature age it is Audie Murphy. He is excellent. Curiously, Audie played a young Jesse in "Kansas Raiders"(1950). Jesse tells Cass he is not up to being a gunfighter yet, because his hands sweat, but he saw him practicing and tells him to look him up when he can. Richard Lapp is different from any conception one might have of a western hero. And so is the film compared to other westerns, starting with the music at the beginning that is as far as it can be from anything epic or grandiose. This was a great goodbye from Audie and from Boetticher, It was Audie's last film and Budd's last western.
I'm an Audie Murphy and have been steadily working my way through his
movies. I'd heard of this, his last film, and not favorably - low
production values, bad acting, Audie looking fat and old.
Well I have to agree with the first two criticisms. I can't understand how this film has been given 7 stars, but the part about Audie is wrong, wrong, wrong. When he comes onto the scene,he simply towers over the other actors, the whole movie. He's so good, and it's a real shame that he didn't live longer.
It would have been interesting if he had taken some of the other roles he was offered, such as the villain in DIRTY HARRY. It would have been a whole new direction for him, but then contemporary movies were never his thing. His whole style may have been best suited for Westerns.
I saw this movie while living at Cumberland MD, at a Drive in Theatre. I went to see it because Audie Murphy was in it as well as one of my old favorite "voices" Victory Jory. It was reported earlier that this movie would not be shown in the United States, but it was in 1972-or 73. I ought to know because that's when I lived in Cumberland. As a child listening to the radio in the 1930s and '40's, I could recognize the voice instantly of Victory Jory, Howard Duff (Sam Spade)and Curly Bradley as Tom Mix. There also was a time when I recognized the voice of Gordon Nance (Wild Bill Elliott)on certain mystery shows. By the time I was going to the movies, I knew all those voices and was so happy to see their faces for the first time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Cimarron Kid" director Budd Boetticher's last western "A Time for
Dying" shares a common narrative thread with his cult Randolph Scott
sagebrushers from the 1950s. The stark outdoors action unfolds as part
of a journey of self-discovery and initiation for the twentysomething
hero and heroine in the rugged southwest. Indeed, this picaresque
adventure follows a young man who is swift on the draw with his
six-guns and later a young girl who becomes his wife as they make their
way to and from the notorious Texas town of Silver City. Along the way,
our hero and heroine encounter two prominent historical figures, Jesse
James and Judge Roy Bean.
Sadly, this 67-minute Boetticher picture lacks those classic qualities that distinguished his earlier oaters. The characters are sympathetic, but far from charismatic. The actor and actress were unknowns. Audie Murphy, who produced this low budget film, appears briefly as the infamous Jessie James and his presence marginally enhances the film, while Victory Jory all but steals the show with his hillbilly portrayal of the infamous hanging judge. "A Time for Dying" suffers, too, from a downbeat ending.
"A Time for Dying" opens with a sharp shooting horseman Cass Dunning (Richard Lapp of "Barquero"), blasting the head off a rattlesnake (apparently a real 'live' rattlesnake) as it is about to strike a baby rabbit. Three riders confront Cass and warn him about wearing his matched pair of six-guns tied down when he rides into nearby Silver City. When Cass challenges Billy Pimple (Robert Random of "Time Walker") about this Silver City rule, Pimple points out that he is the exception to the rule and slaps his Colt revolver that he affectionately calls 'Thunder' and 'Lightning.' Later, Cass encounters this predicament in a Silver City saloon when the patrons and the barkeep warn him about wearing sidearms tied down. Before Pimple and his cohorts ride away, Pimple tells Cass about the new girl scheduled to arrive in Silver City. She is going to be employed at Mamie's brothel, and everybody is awaiting her arrival. Anyway, Cass spots the picture of the girl that Pimple was talking about in the saloon and he asks the barkeep and patrons about Billy Pimple. The barkeep says that Pimple is itching to be the next Billy the Kid and has 'the deposition of a rattlesnake in the sun.' Pimple had bought everybody drinks on the house because he was such a sharp shooter himself. Cass demonstrates his prowess with a pistol and the barkeep clamors that Cass' shooting skills surpass Pimple.
When the stagecoach arrives, Cass rides to Nellie Winter's (Anne Randall of "The Split") rescue and carries her off with him. Nellie explains that she has had a difficult time finding a decent job. She says, "A decent job doesn't always mean the men folks will stay decent." Cass tells her that he rescued her because Nellie is the prettiest girl that he has ever seen. Moreover, he didn't want any of the men touching her. Cass has determined that he wants to become a bounty hunter. They ride into Vinegaroon, Texas, and check into a hotel.
While Nellie sleeps in the bed with her clothes in the room, Cass slumbers in the hallway with a chair tilted back against the wall and his Winchester cradled in his arms. Two of Judge Roy Bean's deputies surprise and disarm him and arrest Nellie and Cass because they have violated the 'indecent conduct' law of not registering as man and wife. Judge Roy Bean (Victor Jory of "Dodge City" who bears a remarkable resemblance to Bean) convenes his court and sentences a young horse thief to hang for his crimes. Afterward, Bean marries Cass and Nellie and tells them that they will get a hotel room to celebrate their wedding.
Later, Bean releases them and sends them on their way with a horse for Nellie to ride. Cass tells Nellie that his father is his only relative, and Nellie states that both her parents are deceased. Cass gives her a demonstration of his sharp shooting skills and Nellie is impressed. About this time, Jesse James (Audie Murphy of "The Cimarron Kid") rides up and disarms Cass. Nevertheless, Jesse admires Cass' shooting prowess. If Cass ever wants to join him, Jesse will be happy to accommodate him.
Later, a gang gets the drop on Cass and abducts Nellie and takes her into Silver City. Eventually, Cass has a showdown with Pimple and Pimple kills him when Cass refuses to draw on him.
Apart from Murphy's single scene in the movie, Boetticher's savory dialogue and lenser Lucian Ballard's color cinematography are the best assets of "A Time for Dying."
The Western Is my favourite genre, but how I was disappointed by this movie. Audie Murphy In my opinion was better suited In a supporting role alongside a movie heavyweight such as Burt Lancaster In the Unforgiven. This film Is terrible, low production values and a made for t.v look and feel. You see Audie for all of 5 minutes and that Is the only value to the film. The rest of the actors are useless, my local am-dram club has better hams! I was hoping for a good movie with director Budd Boetticher at the helm but alas It Is a stinker! The worst western I have ever seen! The main character played by You've NEVER HEARD OF HIM BEFORE OR SINCE Richard Lapp gets my vote for the worst haircut ever!
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