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This film is a comedy Western with a witty dialogue and an intriguing plot. I haven't seen it since it first appeared on TV, but I remember it as a very enjoyable movie which I would love to see again. Jack Elam plays his usual role, similar to the part he played in 'Support Your Local Sheriff', though this time he is the sheriff himself. A gem that ought to be shown again.
Sometimes, a film's title makes it seem like something it really isn't.
Take for instance the 1974 made-for-TV western SHOOTOUT IN A ONE-DOG
TOWN. With a title like that, you'd expect this to be a sagebrush
comedy. And since it is directed by the same veteran Western director,
Burt Kennedy, who did the classic Western comedies SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL
SHERIFF in 1969, and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER in 1971, those
expectations are doubled.
But sometimes expectations are made to be broken, and this is one of those times. In this film, Richard Crenna portrays a banker in a sun-baked Western town who is given the unenviable task of safe-guarding a $200,000 deposit after the courier (Michael Ansara) carrying the money gets wounded in an attempted trail robbery. Crenna agrees, despite the objections of the townspeople who don't feel like getting involved in a potentially deadly and destructive situation as the shooters, led by Richard Egan, move into town trying to get their hands on the stash.
With a screenplay by Dick Nelson and Larry Cohen (the latter whom also wrote the script for Kennedy's RETURN OF THE SEVEN in 1966, and later wrote and directed the 1974 horror classic IT'S ALIVE), and being produced by Richard Lyons (who also produced the 1962 Sam Peckinpah classic RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY), SHOOTOUT IN A ONE DOG TOWN, again title and director notwithstanding, has much more in common with films like HIGH NOON, LAWMAN, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, and even THE WILD BUNCH, in its adherence to a suspense motif and its themes of standing up to adversity. Crenna does a fine job as the Everyman of the piece, and Stefanie Powers is also good as his wife. The film is also marked with appearances by a number of Western film veterans: Jack Elam (as the town sheriff); Gene Evans; Michael Anderson Jr.; and Dub Taylor. Also notable is the solid cinematography of Robert Hauser, who worked on films like A MAN CALLED HORSE and SOLDIER BLUE, and the fact that the film was made in one of the many Western town sets around Durango, Mexico.
Even though it was clearly not made with a big budget, this 1974 western is in need of a revival and restoration on DVD, given the sterling director, cast, and suspense-laden story.
This made-for-TV gem is DEFINITELY NOT a comedy. Any reviewer
describing it as a comedy has clearly confused it with another film,
possibly "Support Your Local Gunfighter."
A mortally-wounded courier (Michael Ansara) arrives in a small town, and asks the town banker (Richard Crenna) to safeguard the valuable shipment which he has given his life to protect. Crenna agrees to do so, much to the chagrin of the townspeople who fear that the bad guys will now tear up the town to finally get their hands on the shipment.
Much as in "High Noon", where the townspeople feel that Sheriff Will Kane's fight with Frank Miller is none of their concern, the townspeople this time feel no obligation to protect the valuable shipment now in banker Crenna's vault. Mr. Crenna is left to his own resources to fulfill his promise to Mr. Ansara.
This movie brilliantly encompasses and illustrates the positive virtues of honor, courage, loyalty, integrity, and resourcefulness. I have only seen it one time, during its original broadcast, and was totally blown away. I would love to see it again, and would love to have a copy of it in my library.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This made for TV live action film was produced by Hanna- Barbera...and
THAT sure was a surprise. It's an enjoyable film but also one with lots
of plot holes...too many to put it in any category other than a
When the film begins, an agent for the stage comes into a tiny, crappy western town to say he's got a chest filled with $200,000 and he says a gang is outside of town waiting to take it. He wants to leave it in the bank's vault and then head for help. Why he didn't just stay was a bit perplexing...perhaps he figured everyone in the tiny town would die! Regardless, Zack (Richard Crenna), the bank manager, and Handy (Jack Elam), the town's part-time sheriff and full-time crusty character, are in charge of watching the money. No one else volunteers to help and, oddly, you never see them try to recruit anyone.
Soon a single baddie comes into town to do recon. He walks into the bar owned by Handy and Handy tells him EVERYTHING about the money and where it is!! Does this make any sense at all? No...but this will be a somewhat recurring problem.
When the baddies show up, Handy and Zack refuse to just hand over the money to the five bandits...and Handy blows away one of them. A bit later, the four come back and Zack and Handy toss out a dozen or more sticks of dynamite and only manage to hit two of them. Then, one of them sticks his gun into the hideout where the heroes are hiding and shoots Handy...but doesn't bother trying to shoot Zack-- even though he is 100% defenseless AND doing this would end the matter.
The remaining guys come back later and get picked off one by one. The final baddie is killed in the most amazingly screwy ways I could even hope to imagine....and you'll just have to see it for yourself!!
All in all, an exciting film but also one that requires you to put your brain into neutral many times in order to enjoy it without thinking that a lot of it makes no sense. Watch if you want...it is interesting.
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