In the turn-of-the century Texas town of Cottownwood Springs, marshal Frank Patch is an old-style lawman in a town determined to become modern. When he kills drunken Luke Mills in ... See full summary »
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In the turn-of-the century Texas town of Cottownwood Springs, marshal Frank Patch is an old-style lawman in a town determined to become modern. When he kills drunken Luke Mills in self-defense, the town leaders decide it's time for a change. That ask for Patch's resignation, but he refuses on the basis that the town on hiring him had promised him the job for as long as he wanted it. Afraid for the town's future and even more afraid of the fact that Marshal Patch knows all the town's dark secrets, the city fathers decide that old-style violence is the only way to rid themselves of the unwanted lawman. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Star Richard Widmark and original director Robert Totten had "artistic differences," and Totten was replaced by Don Siegel. When the film was completed, Siegel, saying that Totten directed more of the film than he did, refused to take screen credit for it, but Widmark didn't want Totten's name on it. A compromise was reached whereby the film was credited to the fictitious "Alan Smithee" (originally to be called Al Smith, but the DGA said there had already been a director by that name), thereby setting a precedent for directors who, for one reason or another, did not want their name on a film they made. See more »
[discussing Frank Patch]
There's that mayor over there drumming up a meeting with all those rich and proper jackasses - hollering and shouting around, quoting some stupid law or bylaw. Then they'll all go stomping down to the jailhouse, take a look at God Almighty, then he'll take one good look back at 'em, and they'll all wet their britches and go on home.
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Many times western movies are concerned with battles against Indians, duels between gunfighter or just pure adventure centered in heroes like Zorro or Durango Kid.
That's not the case with 'Death of a Gunfighter'. This little and forgotten movie tell a story based on the life - or, to be exact, the last days of a life - of a Marshall called Frank (Widmark) in a little town at the end of Nineteen century, a town where the 'new times' are coming faster and faster and the way of life of a man like Frank is not anymore well accepted.
Like some other western like 'The Shootist' (the last movie of John Wayne) and the more recent TV movie 'Monte Walsh', this one is a movie about loneliness, full of sadness and at the same time with violence, a harsh cruelty that falls upon the men and the women that are not prepared to live in another time and another way of life.
Richard Widmark gives a strong performance, all the time blending sadness, disappointment and angriness with a compassionate composition of the Marshall Frank Persh. Lena Horne is a bit dislocated but the support cast is very good, especially Carrol O'Connor and John Saxon.
'Death of a Gunfighter' is a movie that made all of us think about our lives and how we deal with the challenges put in front of us every day, especially in a world always changing. It's not a movie about heroes and courage - like almost other western movies are - but a movie about fragility.
7 out of 10
10 of 13 people found this review helpful.
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