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. They 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 »
Near the end of the film you can see the electrical wires running (presumably buried for most of their length under the differently-coloured soil) to a man's body as he is 'shot'; the last yard or so of wire -which is presumably for the gunshot SFX- is clearly visible running towards the man's ankles. See more »
[Mr. Brant, the undertaker, tries to console Mrs. Mills, the "grieving" widow]
Needless to say, Mrs. Mills, we all share your grief.
What's the price of your cheapest funeral?
See more »
Started by Robert Totten, then taken over by Don Siegel at the insistence of Richard Widmark (Totten and the star "clashed," as they say), "Death of a Gunfighter" wound up credited to the fictitious and now somewhat famous Alan Smithee. This intriguing Western remains the elusive director's best work, thanks, no doubt, to the proven skills of Siegel and another terrific Widmark performance (the director and star had previously collaborated on "Madigan" a year earlier). As sheriff Widmark's love interest, Lena Horne hasn't much to do, but she looks good doing it.
24 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?