6.4/10
820
19 user 12 critic

Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

M | | Western | April 1969 (Austria)
A Texas town's council fires the town's old-fashioned marshal who refuses to resign, thus leading to violence from both sides.

Directors:

(as Allen Smithee), (as Allen Smithee)

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Marshal Frank Patch
...
Claire Quintana
...
Lester Locke
...
Edward Rosenbloom
...
Andrew Oxley
...
Laurie Mills
...
Ivan Stanek
...
Mayor Chester Sayre
...
Doc Adams
...
Lou Trinidad
...
Hilda Jorgenson
...
Dan Joslin
...
Arch Brandt
...
Luke Mills (as James Lydon)
...
Mary Elizabeth
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Storyline

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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Marshall Patch... he lived by the law of the gun...

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

April 1969 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Patch  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Richard Widmark character is in a relationship with the Lena Horne character: in other words, an interracial relationship. That aspect of things is not a plot point in the movie - she's his girlfriend, and nothing more is said. At the time of the movie's release, this was touted by some involved (Widmark for one) as a sign that society had finally reached the point where such things were no longer a controversy or a big deal, and didn't need to be dealt with as part of the narrative. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Lou Trinidad: Civilization is a wonderful thing, ain't it, Doc?
Doc Adams: If they ever got it started it might work.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in El tiempo de la felicidad (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

SWEET APPLE WINE
Lyrics Carol Hall
Music Oliver Nelson
Sung by Lena Horne
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Allen Smithee" makes a good film
1 January 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

This maybe the greatest film ever directed by the elusive Allen Smithee whose name comes up on the credits of this and many other films that directors can't or don't want to claim credit for a variety of reasons. Robert Totten and Don Siegel directed it and neither wanted credit for their own reasons. So unlike Come and Get It where both Howard Hawks and William Wyler directed it and both are listed, this one was credited to the elusive Mr. Smithee, that pseudonym invented by Hollywood for one who doesn't want the credit.

Usually they don't want the credit because it's a stinkeroo. But here this is a good western about an aging town marshal whose time as come and gone and won't see it.

Richard Widmark is that marshal and the local bordello madam, Lena Horne is his girlfriend or one of them. The film opens with an irate husband looking to gun him down played by Jimmy Lydon. Of course he's no match for the lawman and this spurs the town council to look for a way to finally be rid of him. The town elders are such veterans as Larry Gates, Morgan Woodward, David Opatoshu, Dub Taylor, and Kent Smith.

It becomes pretty obvious that Widmark won't take the hint and they start running out of options. For one of them it ends in tragedy.

Carroll O'Connor plays the most interesting role here, a far cry from Archie Bunker. He owns one of the saloons and his reasons are more typical, law and order has been taking away business for too long. O'Connor is a slime ball who first tries to use others to do his dirty work.

The others are the ones who brought Widmark to town in the first place, but now Widmark is a law unto himself. He has his own way of interpreting what needs to be done and the skill with a weapon to enforce it.

As you can imagine it's a pretty bloody picture, but a great lesson to be learned when you allow a man on horseback to run things.

I'm imagining though, millions of years from now; Aliens excavating our planet and through the efforts of folks like the American Film Institute come across the collected works of Allen Smithee. In their textbooks it's going to read that Smithee was a mediocre talent of whom little is known, but this one film is a great one amongst a lot of mediocrity.


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