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Original B-western
pzanardo15 March 2004
Two tough women, one good one bad, dominate "Gunslinger", a nice B western, early work by Roger Corman. In spite of being so patently low-budgeted and made in a rush, the movie have several things to its credit. First of all, a considerable originality for the 1950s. The woman marshal Rose (Beverly Garland) is an uncommon character in western movies, all the more her outstanding guts and toughness. The early scene, when she shoots dead the killer during her husband's funeral service, is a shocker which, in some sense, sets the gutsy standard of the film. Personally, I never saw such an unexpected scene elsewhere. Fine stuff. Rose's counterpart is the cruel Erica (Allison Hayes), always ready to murder anyone interfering with her dirty schemes. She is uncommonly bad for a female character. These two beautiful mortal enemies are related in a love triangle with the gunslinger Cane Myro (John Ireland). I like this character, entangled in a Greek-tragedy-like strait of being hired to kill the woman he loves. John Ireland, slouching along with his dark suit, cold eyes, sad fixed grin, cynical sense of humor, is perfect for the role. In my opinion he makes a first-rate job, even too good for an unpretentious B-movie. The romantic scenes with Myro and Rose have an intensity which makes a fine contrast with the merely carnal interchange between Erica and the gunslinger. A remarkable sexy aura permeates a number of scenes, mainly thanks to three sensational saloon-girls. Even the final general killing, though far-fetched, has the merit to be non-standard. The tough, dry dialogue is praise-worthy, Garland and Hayes act adequately, and there is some good camera work (rarely, to be honest). Several sub-plots give a fast pace to the narration. It is almost impossible to get bored. After all, that's the main purpose of a B-movie, isn't it?

Unfortunately, sometimes "Gunslinger" is non-standard for goofiness, as well. An early take is so mistaken that I even suspect to be a director's deliberate choice. We see the pony-express starting from a stage-post, in theory some ten days far from Oracle, the village where the action takes place. Few seconds later he rides close to a big tree, under which we see the funeral service of the murdered marshal, in Oracle! And we have many takes of rushing horses, patently in "fast-motion". What's the point of such useless stupidity? Two potentially exciting scenes, namely the fist-fight between Rose and Erica and the attempt of the three saloon-girls to lynch Rose, are marred by a very poor editing. We find several faults in the cut of the movie, as well.

Anyway, I go back to my main point. The two pretty tough girls are exciting, the romance is pleasant, the flick is entertaining and presents some interest for a study of B-movies.
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Roger Corman's magnum opus!
Sterno-221 December 1999
I'll admit that I don't expect much from a Roger Corman film. Generally, I expect a lot of walking and bad scripts. Yet in this case, I am pleasantly surprised.

The Gunslinger is a story of a woman (played by the spunky Beverly Garland) who takes over as sheriff after her husband is brutally murdered. Ms. Garland is a pretty good shot herself, killing one of the murderers the next day at her husband's funeral. Her first task is to shut down the local bar that is violating the town curfew. The bar's owner is trying to buy land in anticipation of being bought out by the (hoped-for) railroad. However, Ms. Garland is a thorn in her plans, and the bar matron hires a man to kill Ms. Garland.

Because of Ms. Garland's plays her role honestly and realistically, there is absolutely no temptation to go to Suzanne Somers "She's the Sheriff" jokes. With the exception of a couple of faux pas (the apartment door that opens OUT from the inside, jeep tracks, and the two horsemen waiting on screen for their cue to ride around a corner), the movie becomes quite passable as movie fare. However, Corman could not resist padding his film with horse riding scenes, much like he does walking in other films.

Sterno says The Gunslinger is a horse opera worth your time.
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InzyWimzy14 November 2000
Beverly Garland is the only reason I gave this a good rating. She acts very well and is very pleasing to watch.

Other than that, typical Roger Corman production. Lots of mediocre actors, lack of continuity, lots of women displaying themselves, making out, and humorous scenes when not meant to be humorous. I love Bev's stoic reaction in the beginning. Plus, the whiny barkeep guy was so kooky and annoying. He got his just desserts. Interesting situation: boy meets girl, boy was hired to kill girl, boy falls for girl, girl falls for boy, boy and girl get into shootout.

We do have fun.
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Interesting Early Corman Effort!
bsmith555210 January 2003
"Gunslinger" was an early "B" western drama from Producer/Director Roger Corman. Shot in color on a shoestring budget, it is nevertheless an interesting little western.

When Rose Hood's (Beverly Garland) husband the Marshal is murdered, she is forced to strap on a gunbelt and take over his job. The local saloon madam Erica Page (Alison Hayes) feels threatened, she sends her lovesick bartender Jake (Jonathon Haze) to hire a gunslinger to kill the marshal. All in black gunfighter Cane Miro (John Ireland) rides into town to take on the job. It seems that Cane also has an axe to grind with the town's mayor (Martin Kingsley). Of course Cane becomes attracted to Rose and she to him. Cane is torn between the two women. But he ultimately succumbs to his dark side and the finale involves the final shootout between Rose and Cane.

Corman adds a few little twists that make this film a cut above your average "B" western. First there is a female villain in Erica and a knock down drag out fight between herself and Rose. Next there is a sequence where the three saloon girls try to lynch Rose. There is also an excellent scrap involving Ireland and Chris Alcaide playing the deputy Joshua.

The acting is above average for a Corman picture of this period. Garland, always one of my personal western gals, is good in the lead. Ireland, always under rated, is excellent as the title character. Alison Hayes makes a chilling villain and Corman regular Haze is quite good as the simple minded Jake.

This film is certainly worth a look.
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Funslinger more likely!
Juha Hämäläinen11 April 2007
Being a big fan of Corman's horror movies I expected from his western a bit more than I got. Well, I was entertained all right. I had almost as many laughs as watching Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.

See the spectacle of mobile tire tracks on the prairie of the old west. You can kill time by counting them if there happens to be an otherwise boring scene going on. And the horses seem to have gears in them too, considered the fast-forward chases. See also the swinging bar room queens of the traditional wild west saloon doing a number that reminds of a certain fashionable dance from 1920's, here decades before the style was invented. Hope the saloon around them won't crumple.

In the middle of all this mayhem the main actors do a decent job. Ireland, Garland and Hayes are all truly fine. A special praise for them for doing the best they could with the material that seems mostly having been lifted from 'Johnny Guitar', but doesn't quite impress the same way. But there is really nothing wrong with a laughable western like this. Just like a really bad old horror movie, it might fail one way but succeeds to give joy anyway. That is one of the reasons Corman's work appeals to me and that is why I dare to recommend you to experience this movie if you get the chance.
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unusual and entertaining Roger Corman western Warning: Spoilers
This is the type of western I would give everything to see when I was a kid, but would not be allowed (it would be restricted for minors) because of scenes with violence and sex. And considering the prudishness and the clichés of the good guy vs bad guy westerns of the fifties, Roger Corman knew how to make it different , even though he had a small budget (the film was shot in less than a week) and borrowed from some other films (Duel in the Sun in the final shoot out and Destry Rides Again with the women fighting in the saloon). Rose, the Marshal (Beverly Garland) kills people like she is killing flies, and Cane Miro (John Ireland) the main male character is very far from what you what call a good guy. Add to that a really mean woman, Erica (Allison Hayes) and you can be sure you will never get bored. The sexy scenes consist only of kissing, but they are sexier than the more explicit ones that you see in most movies today.
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Roger Corman goes West
Mike Sh.14 April 2001
Roger Corman, alternately lionized as a visionary filmmaker limited by low budgets and tight production schedules, and berated as an overrated producer of shoddy cliche-ridden movies, tries his hand at a Western. Here he seems to be trying to make a brooding adult Western of the Anthony Mann type, but as good as John Ireland is, he just ain't no James Stewart. The bargain basement production values don't help (it's obvious that this movie was made very quickly on a shoestring budget), and the overall look and feel of the film is oppressively gloomy. (Apparently this was due in part to bad weather during filming.)

On the plus side, this movie does have Beverly Garland (r-r-r-owrr!) and Alison Hayes (va-va-va-voom!). These two will help distract the viewer's attention from the sight of Bruno Vesota waddling about and looking shifty.
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Interesting but Flawed
bensonmum221 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
  • When the local sheriff is killed, his wife takes over until and is determined to clean-up the town. Not everyone in town, however, is happy with what she's doing. When the sheriff orders a curfew in town, the local saloon owner (also a woman) hires a killer to take care of the sheriff. There's no way the saloon owner could know that the sheriff and the killer would fall in love.

  • Gunslinger is an example of what happens when you have a fairly interesting concept and combine it with poor execution. There's a good movie here somewhere trying to get out. In more capable hands or with a larger budget, Gunslinger might have been an entertaining look at the role of women in the Old West. As it is, Gunslinger is a sloppy mess of a movie.

  • There are just so many things wrong with the movie: a supporting cast with no acting ability, stilted and unnatural dialogue, and sets that look like sets. But the biggest offender is the editing. I was amazed at how many times a scene would begin with the actors (and horses for that matter) obviously waiting for Corman to yell "Action". The best is the scene of two riders on horseback just standing beside a building. All of a sudden, they take off and come racing around the corner like they had been riding hard for several miles. Or, take the example of people who can seemingly transport themselves across town. We see a man enter a building and a second later emerge across town to mount his horse.

  • It's not as if Corman didn't have a few decent actors to work with. While none were great stars, Beverly Garland, John Ireland, and Allison Hayes were all capable of turning in a good performance. But, in Gunslinger, they're not given much to work with.

  • I have now seen both the MST3K and non-MST3K versions of the movie. I would strongly recommend going the MST3K route.
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Someone shot the sheriff...but he did not shoot the deputy...
Diana30 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Beverly garland was born in the wrong time. She was an actress ahead of her time, bringing power and grace to even such lame flicks as the Corman films she starred in. In Gunslinger, she's the town sheriff's wife. He gets offed, so she takes over his job to pursue his killers. She's better than the material she's working with, by far. The movie is gray, stilted, and mostly boring. There's some(unintentional)humor with the tire tracks everywhere, people running behind one building to emerge suddenly in front of another (I've heard of false fronts, but this is ridiculous!), and the truly stupid plot line of the newly widowed sheriff falling in love with the guy hired to kill her. Even if she hadn't loved her husband, it had only been something like a week or two since he'd died! And she ends up shooting the guy to death in the end, anyway. No luck with men, this one.

The villain of the piece is another woman, the saloon owner. She's scheming to buy up a bunch of land just in case the railroad goes through and makes her rich. Her plan of action if it doesn't is pretty lame-she'll just steal as much from the town as she can and skedaddle. Hell, it's just her and her hired gun at the end against an entire town. Are you telling me these people aren't armed? Look what happened in real towns of the Old West when bank robbers came in to rob the bank, then were cut down in a hail of bullets by the armed and dangerous town folk.

There'a a lot of pointless talking and riding around, interspersed with a few lame shoot outs. The ending is as grim as usual in a Corman flick, although thank goodness it lacks the moral proselytizing at the end that was in It Conquered the World. The sheriff turns over her badge to Sam Bass and rides off into the sunset, although the movie was so gray that you never saw the sun.
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A delightful acting trio leads to a good film
billshattner27 April 2007
I love this film. True, it's got flaws, and no small amount of them. It's slow, somewhat predictable, and a bit clichéd. Heck, even the acting is questionable in some areas (although, not from three of the performers; see below). That being said, one can't help but become mildly invested in the story as it develops, and as that happens, the mediocre sets seem to slowly dissolve into obscurity. None of that, however, touches on the reason most directly responsible for my affinity for this film. For that, one must look to the performances of John Ireland, Allison Hayes, and Beverly Garland. Cast in the three lead roles of the film, their acting was absolutely critical to the appeal of the movie. And, in that regard, I can gladly say that they all do an excellent job. Allison Hayes is wonderful as the tough, shrewd businesswoman, and lends some real credibility to the movie. In particular, her scene with Bruno Vesota is a good example of her acting in this film. Then, we have the strong, earnest performance of John Ireland. From his dynamic interaction with Rose (Beverly Garland) to his believable hunger for vengeance, he displays fabulous versatility, and I feel gives the finest performance in the film. Lastly, we have the strength and vigor of Beverly Garland, who unfortunately is given some of the movie's most sappy dialogue, and yet, delivers a powerful performance as the widowed de-facto sheriff of a dangerous frontier town. As she does in most of her films, she exudes strength, and does much to make the audience at least sympathize with her. All in all, the three of them save this film, and make most of the scenes engaging. Again, this movie is not an Oscar-winner, and certainly isn't remembered as a Western classic. But I feel that's a small shame, because this movie isn't just watchable, it's enjoyable. Somewhere past all the signature nuances of a Corman movie, one can find a lovely little gem of a film in Gunslinger. So, if you get a chance to watch the original, or the MST3K version, do take the opportunity; you'll end up watching a good, old-fashioned action-drama.
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A Lady With A Star!
zardoz-1311 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
When two gunmen blast the town marshal of Oracle, Texas, in an ambush, the marshal's widow not only kills the shooter, but she also takes over her dead husband's job to track down the accomplice and discover who paid them. Low-budget producer & director Roger Corman cut a different trail with the off-beat 1956 western "Gunslinger" by making the western hero into a heroine. This represents one of the earliest examples of a feminist horse opera. Beverly Garland stars as Ruth Hood, the widow who wears the star and lays down the law, at least for a week until her replacement arrives. Chiefly, "Gunslinger" illustrates the theme of women versus women. The marshal's wife and an ambitious female entrepreneur saloon owner go toe-to-toe so women versus women qualifies as the foremost theme of "Gunslinger." Meanwhile, our heroine defies the social patriarchal order when she appropriates her husband's badge to finish the job that he started. The least prevalent theme is women versus men, though Ruth tangles with several guys and guns them down. Corman designed "Gunslinger" as a different kind of movie and could only have been thinking of attracting a female audience as well as dyed-in-the-leather western movie fans. The Charles Griffith & Mark Hanna script unfolds in chronological fashion, charting a week in the life of Oracle, Texas, as the heroine and the villainess await a decision by a railroad firm about whether it will build its rail lines through the town as well as when the new marshal will arrive.

The most important theme in "Gunslinger" is women versus women. The entire movie is a showdown between two women with neither prepared to give an inch. When Ruth Hood brings her husband, Marshal Scott Hood (William Schallert of "Hour of the Gun"), her breakfast, she has no idea that two gunmen working for Erica Page (Allison Hayes of "The Steel Jungle") who runs the Red Dog Saloon are poised to kill him. Scott tells Ruth that he has been out all night trying to track down a killer Nate Signal. Erica Page's name comes up in the conversation because she warned him about Marshal Hood's interest in him and got away from the lawman could catch him. Ruth sees Erica as the source of all the trouble in Oracle. Scott shrugs and asks his wife, "How, who in the world could stand up to that woman?" Ruth asserts that she could stand up to Erica. Before his husband dies, Ruth has indicated that she can stand up against Erica, foreshadowing their feud. At Scott's funeral, Ruth shoots the gunman standing alongside Erica and goads Mayor Gideon Polk into pinning the badge on her so she can smoke out the murderer. When Polk suggests that the two men did it alone, Ruth rejects this theory. Neither one knew her husband well enough to want to kill him. No, she contends that somebody else hired them and the guilty party had a reason to want her husband dead. She plans to remain marshal until she find the person behind the murder of her husband. Later, after Scott dies, Ruth imposed the curfew on Erica's saloon that Scott had not enforced so that Erica has to close up at 3 AM. Following the funeral and Ruth being sworn in as marshal, Ruth visits the Red Dog Saloon. When Erica refuses to shut down, Ruth and she have a brief fight and Ruth knocks her out. and forces Erica to shut down after 3 AM.

Indeed, the entire plot of "Gunslinger" concerns the rivalry between Ruth as lawman and Erica as an entrepreneur who wants to own the land that the railroad will have to cross before it arrives in town. The second most important theme in "Gunslinger" is women versus society. The mayor isn't overly enthusiastic about swearing Ruth in as marshal to replace her husband. Ruth's deputy shares the mayor's sentiment. He observes as she is buckling on her gun belt, "I reckon some people won't thing it proper for a new widow to go around in pants, even if they are black." Ruth retorts, "Did you ever see a peace officer in a corset?" This reflects the feeling that the men and women of the Oracle, or what constitutes the society, won't feel good about a woman taking over a man's job. Similarly, Erica finds herself up against the same prejudice when Mayor Polk visits her saloon after hours one evening. Polk has discovered when he pored over the deeds in the land office that Erica has extended her notes on property. In fact, Erica is buying up property that has been selected by the land commission as the suggested right of way for the railroad depot. Polk believes that Erica's gamble is "the height of speculation. He reminds her that the railroad doesn't have to come through Oracle. "Of course," he points out, "you realize how the town will feel if . . ." The implication is that the citizens of Oracle won't like Erica's highhandedness. Erica replies, "Sometimes I lie awake at night two or three seconds worrying about it." Clearly, Erica doesn't care what society thinks about her.

Ranking third is the theme of women versus men. Erica hires a professional gunslinger, Cane Miro (John Ireland of "Red River") to kill Ruth, but Cane is not in any hurry to earn his three thousand dollars. Meanwhile, Ruth proves her mettle against men by gunning down the assailant that murdered Scott in the first scene. Later, at Scott's funeral, Ruth slings dirt into a gunman's face, snatches a deputy's six-gun and blasts the man. As it turns out, Ruth recognized the man at the funeral as the accomplice. Later, Ruth guns down a bank robber. After she meets Cane, she gives him five days to clear out of town. "Gunslinger" is a top-notch feminist western from the late 1950s that thrusts a woman into a role usually reserved for men.
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A woman sheriff struggles to keep law and order in a little town overrun by cutthroats
ma-cortes6 September 2017
An average Western on the hands of hard-boiled director Roger Corman and a tough-as-leather cast as well as mostly female , headed by Beverly Garland , John Ireland and Allison Hayes , that's all the plot that's needed to make one rip-roaring Western flick . After her hubby (William Schallert) is gunned down , Rose Hood (Beverly Garland) takes his place temporarily as marshal of a small Western town , Oracle , and she fights for peace and tranquility . She takes his badge and sets out in personal revenge to find the murderers , and as soon as she meets the outlaws to kill and bury them at Boot Hill cemetery . Meanwhile, the nasty Erica Page (Alison Hayes) , the gorgeous saloon owner , along with her moronic underling , Jake Hayes (Jonathan Haze), are busy buying up local properties because of the railroad is going to make an Oracle depot stop . Soon after , villain Erica hires a quick-draw gunfighter called Cane Miro (John Ireland) to come kill Rose . But the unscrupulous hired hand Miro falls in love for Rose and brings back a double-crossing and start to confront among themselves . At the end there appears the famous sheriff Sam Bass.

This is a middling Western with crossfire , fights , thrills , shotdown , pursuits , go riding , but some boring and slow-moving . Unique Western with little action , excessive talking and a surprising ending . It has some good shots but lots of dull spots . It's made in low budget ; however , being well played by acceptable actors as John Ireland , Beverly Garland and Allyson Hayes . Passable support cast , including ordinary players from Corman factory as Dick Miller , William Schallert and Jonathan Haze who acted in ¨Little shop of horrors¨ and many others Corman products . The secondary actors , technicians (cameraman Fred West , musician Ronald Stein) and writer (Charles B. Griffith who wrote various Corman's scripts and also directed) will repeat with Roger in subsequent films .

The motion picture was regularly made by Roger Corman and shot in seven days. During the 50s-60s Roger Corman directed 3 Westerns as ¨The Oklahoma Woman ¨ , ¨Apache Woman¨ and ¨Five guns West ¨ , but his specialty were terror films , Edgar Alan Poe saga , and monsters movies . As Corman realized all kinds of genres as Mobster movie : ¨Bloody mama¨ , ¨St. Valentine's massacre¨, ¨I Mobster¨, ¨Machine Gun Kelly¨ ; and especially known the Edgar Alan Poe renditions : ¨Fall of the haunted house¨ , ¨Tales of terror¨ , ¨Raven¨, ¨Terror¨, ¨Pit and Pendulum¨, ¨Tomb of Ligeia¨, ¨Masque of the red death¨, ¨Premature burial¨; Juvenile movies : ¨Carnival rock¨, ¨Rock all night¨ , ¨Sorority girl¨, ¨Teenage doll¨ ; Monster movie : ¨Attack the crab monsters¨ , ¨It conquered the world¨, ¨ Beast with a million eyes¨ , ¨Viking women and great serpent ¨ , ¨Swamp women¨, ¨Wasp woman¨ ; Sci-Fi : ¨Gasss¨, ¨The man with X-ray eyes¨, ¨Last woman on earth¨ ; Horror : ¨The Undead¨, ¨Tower of London¨, ¨Haunted palace¨, ¨Frankestein unbound¨ ; and Motorcycle films : ¨Wild Angels¨, ¨The Trip¨. Although Corman also produced several films as ¨ Night of the blood beast ¨ , ¨ Attack of the giant leeches¨ and several others . ¨Gunslinger¨ rating : Mediocre : 4.5/10 , only for Roger Corman aficionados .
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Whoops, there's Jeep marks everywhere!
Lee Eisenberg12 July 2006
I guess that "Gunslinger" wasn't quite as god-awful as most of the movies that "Mystery Science Theater 3000" shows, but westerns just aren't Roger Corman's forte. Portraying Rose Hood (Beverly Garland) becoming sheriff in an Old West town after her sheriff husband gets murdered and having to fight off baddies, the movie is pretty predictable. John Ireland is Rose's new hubby, secretly working for unctuous Allison Hayes (yes, the 50-foot woman). Also appearing briefly is frequent Corman co-star Dick Miller as a mailman (Miller nowadays stars in Joe Dante's movies).

I do wish to assert that you'll probably want to watch the "MST3K" version to really enjoy this movie. They had a great time with it.
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Good cast, Directror, and novel idea begot routine western action.
bux12 November 1998
When the town sheriff is gunned down, his wife Garland pins on the badge. Hired killer Ireland is sent to off her, but instead falls in love with her. Corman, directing a great cast, culled from Poverty Row, seems to do nothing with the delicious plot that is bubbling away here. What we end up with is characters we don't care about, walking through a very stiff script. It shoulda been coulda been a contendah!
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MST3K Version Well Worthwhile!
tampamm25 September 2002
I first saw this movie one Friday night/morning in the 80's while staying in a cheap Midwestern motel room. It was the late late show on a small local UHF channel. After a few minutes I knew why it was small local UHF channel affordable. It was perfectly dreadful even for an early Roger Corman effort. Which is saying something in and of itself. I was also struck by the thought of perhaps how desperate John Ireland's, an actor already with solid accomplishments (My Darling Clementine, Red River, All the King's Men), finances must have been in 1956 to appear in this disaster.

Years later it popped up again without warning on the late great MST3K television show where it received a proper and hilarious skewing. Of course, Corman had served up inning after inning of softballs for the boys to drive out of the park, but they still managed to find gems I missed the first time. Two that had me in tears were the room/hallway scene, "come out," and the "authentic" old west saloon chorus girls.

The original version of the Gunslinger should be mercifully forgotten. The MST3K version should not be missed! Somehow I think even Roger Corman is laughing too.
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"You're not bad, you're just no good."
utgard1424 November 2016
Disappointing Roger Corman western about a woman (Beverly Garland) who becomes marshal after her husband, the previous marshal, is killed. She clashes with saloon owner Allison Hayes and falls for hired gun John Ireland before her hubby's cold in the ground. This should have been great but, unfortunately, it isn't much fun. It needs more scenes like the cat fight between Garland and Hayes near the beginning. Basically it's just a routine oater with the novelty of a woman being the marshal. If you really want to see a western from the 1950s with badass female characters and significant cheese appeal, see Johnny Guitar. This one is pretty boring.
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And She Took the Law Into Her Own Hands
hrkepler5 June 2018
'Gunslinger' is strange little western - unique and experimental where 'King of B's' Roger Corman went against usual western rules and the main gunslinger is a woman - town marshal Rose Hood (Beverly Garland) who is as fast with her thinking as with her hands, and as coldblooded as her male counterparts. And her cruel scheming sworn enemy Erica Page (Allisson Hayes) is as evil and dirty as one greedy villain should be. As the director himself said, that he was tired of using same formulas, so he came up with an idea about woman gunslinger and hired Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna to write the screenplay.

After her husband, the marshal of of Oracle City is murdered, Rose Hood is appointed as new marshal and she plans to take the law into her own hands. With that she starts feud with saloon keeper Erica Page who is ready to use every method to get rid of the new law-woman. She hires gunslinger form out of town (super cool John Ireland whose performance seems even too good for this unpretentious cheap entertainment) to kill Rose. Romance, double games, deceptions and a lot of blood shedding follows. Although unconventional in casting and with many interesting and original twists and turns mixed with lousy clichés, and enough entertainment value, the film is still uneven mess which proves that western wasn't Cormans forte. Not to mention those fast-motioned horse chasing scenes that felt unnecessary and more like self parody.

'Gunslinger' might not be up par with Cormans finest works (or even with some of his previous westerns like 'Five Guns West') the film is still worth enough to give it a chance, even for the sake of the inventiveness of it.
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"What badman would dream of shooting a woman marshal?"
weezeralfalfa22 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Not bad entertainment for a low budget B western, shot in less than a week, with all its production problems, including incessant rain, and debilitating injuries to the two female stars.

After the murder of her sheriff husband, Rose(Beverly Garland) boldly proposes to Mayor Polk to pin her husband's star on her chest. Town boss Erika(Allison Hayes) applauds this unexpected turn of events, quipping " What badman would dream of shooting a woman marshal?" Rose proves adept as a gunslingerette, killing the man who shot her husband without seeing him, and shooting a man she claimed was his partner at her husband's funeral, before she was even made temporary sheriff. Not as adept at handling firearms nor as a horsewoman, Erika hires a gunslinger from Tombstone: Cane Miro(John Ireland), to do her killings for her. Her prime target for the near future is Rose, whom she fears if the railroad decides not to build some tract to the town, hopefully across some of her recent acquisitions. She figures, if the railroad doesn't come to town, she will have Rose and perhaps the sheriff killed before leaving town quickly(not clear to me why?). Most everybody in town is afraid of Erika's tongue and clout, but Rose barely wins a cat fight over whether her saloon has to close at 3A.M., as a town ordinance specifies.

Gunslinger Cane proceeds to two-time Rose and Erika. He knew Erika from the past. She is jealous of his attention to Rose, providing an additional motive for wanting her eliminated, but not until Saturday, when news about the railroad's decision is scheduled to arrive. In turn, Cane had an additional motive for wanting to accept Erika's invitation. He blames Mayor Polk for essentially losing the war for the Confederacy, due to his cowardice as a commander at a battle in the mountains of NW Georgia. Cane lost some kin in this battle, and he wants to assassinate Polk in retaliation. So, Polk is put in the town jail to provide some safety, but he's released too soon.

By the end of the film, nearly all the principal characters have been shot dead by each other. Rose and Cane, the last remaining, have a shooting duel, hiding behind some rocks and tree trunks, after Rose chased Cane on her horse. Interestingly, they profess their love for each other, while shooting to kill!!...Before this, Erika's 3 saloon girls waylay Rose as she returns from a sylvan rendezvous with Cane. The 3 nearly succeed in lynching Rose, but Cane happens along at just the right time to break it up(He doesn't want Rose killed just yet.)

All in all, a story that will likely hold your interest throughout, despite its various faults others have enumerated. In the short term, two women dominate the power structure of the town, until Sam Bass, the next permanent sheriff, arrives in town. Unfortunately, 1878, when this story supposedly takes place, was the year that the historic Sam Bass was shot dead, as a fugitive from justice.

Beverly Garland(Rose)was especially impressive in her role, although Allison(Erika) was not far behind. However, Beverly had to share the limelight, as an icon for girls to look up to, with Gail Davis, who starred in the TV series "Annie Oakley", which ran concurrently, as well as prior to, the release of this film.

See it in color at YouTube
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"What do you know, a lady with a star"!
classicsoncall9 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
It's just a terrible injustice here that "Gunslinger" is saddled with a 2.8 IMDb rating as I write this. Come on - this is a Roger Corman film, that should be good for at least a bonus point, no? Actually, I never knew Corman did a Western, so this was a bit of a treat stumbling across it on Encore Westerns last night. I have to say, I was hooked the minute Rose Hood (Beverly Garland) shot the guy at her husband's funeral. That took some moxie, which Garland had plenty of.

With the words, "Pin it on", Rose takes over as the town sheriff and goes after the bad guys and gals that want to run the show in Oracle, Texas. The primary villain is Erica Page (Allison Hayes), proprietor of the Red Dog Saloon, and architect of a major land grab, buying up local properties in anticipation of a possible railroad passing through the town. I had to admire the way Miss Page managed her cash flow; when she pays someone for the land she just bought, she sends out her puppy dog 'little man' Jake (Jonathan Haze) to kill him and bring the money back. This strategy must have played out more than the single time we get to see it, which makes me wonder why all those dead former landowners never roused anyone's suspicion.

Say, can you have a Corman flick without the obligatory cat-fight? Garland mixes it up with Hayes in an early encounter at the Red Dog, starting with a right cross to the face. They didn't get to do much more than roll around on the floor after that, which didn't make it as exciting as the one in Corman's other 1956 film "Swamp Women". Garland was in that one too, and in the middle of the hot steamy swamp, it wasn't hard to come up with an excuse for a wet blouse tussle. Gee, couldn't the two gals have thrown a beer at each other before the rumpus started?

Heading up the cast is John Ireland as the titled Gunslinger, but that's probably a dubious honor considering Garland appears to have more screen time. As Cane Miro (love that name!), he has the best line of dialog in the picture. After gunning down Nate Signo, he says to Rose - "I'll help you get your worm bait back to town". Ah, the imagery.

You know, you have to hand it to veteran character actor William Schallert for the job he did negotiating a credit for less than a minute of screen time at the start of the picture. He was the town marshal and husband of Rose Hood, who didn't make it past the opening scene. Imagine making a living out of bit parts like that!
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Remarkably bad
MightyGorga14 July 2000
Not one of Roger Corman's more impressive efforts, this movie introduces us to a Western town whose citizens, judging from their acting skills, are all made of wood. Beverly Garland takes what could be a fascinating character, a wife avenging the death of her husband (the town's Marshal), and does nothing with it, while John Ireland, playing a hired assassin/love interest, is just as bland. The dialogue, meanwhile, is so bad it's hilarious. Corman ought to be ashamed.
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Terrible, and funny too.
strike718 July 1999
I saw this on an episode of the divine MST3K, and I think it would have been almost as funny without Joel & co. mocking it. This is truly an awful movie, but it's definitely worth seeing in MST3K-vision.
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*:1 star of 5 stars,what could be a possibly a decent to good western but got screwed up royally.
PJS-529 April 1999
Now unlike most B-film's this actually had quite the potential (more than usual) to be a decent-to-good western flick,but it good messed up incredibly,1 reason it's got rather hokey acting,2nd the plot is rather done bad (the soon-to-be-shot protanginist talks to the pyscho female blonde about the beauty of nighttime when it's clearly day for example),& 3rd the worst part of the plot is that JUST ABOUT EVERYBODY GETS SHOT! WHAT THE SAM HILL IS UP WITH THAT?!,although it does have a well good potential to be a good movie that it was well casted.
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The title doesn't really fit.
Aaron13758 February 2004
Sure it takes place in the west, but the title makes it seem like it is a conventional western. Instead, it is a movie of a woman sheriff. Make no mistake though this is a bad movie about a woman sheriff. She becomes sheriff when her husband is gunned down; she is only a tad bit upset by this. Her main goal is to go after the villain who is also a woman, but the villain hires a guy to kill her. So this is what happens, the hero falls in love with the killer and vice versa. Utterly stupid, as anyone killed in this movie has the new sheriff to thank. She had more than a few chances to put the killer behind bars, but I guess because she liked him she wouldn't do it. The killer is also after the mayor of the town for personal reasons that are also rather dumb. This movie is very boring and not really worth is not one of the better episodes of MST3000 they made. I can not imagine anyone seeing this without them because that would make it that much more painful. Corman is a low budget director, but even he should know better than to have people go into one place and coming out another.
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Only View The MST3K Version
TheUltimatePixy24 August 2001
Talk about a boring, cliche old western movie! I saw this movie on TV and thought it was just another stupid 50s western movie. Then I saw it on the great grand pobah of humor, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and I laughed my bum off. MST3K pointed out everything that was wrong with that movie, like that bloody door that opened up incorrectly. For goodness sake, if you plan on viewing this movie, get the MST3K (All bow to it!! MST3K Rocks!) version!
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