Bat Masterson doesn't look for trouble, but he doesn't walk away from it. When an army sergeant in Hays City tries to kill Bat and dies for his trouble, Bat heads for Dodge City where Ed, his brother, is city marshal and a candidate for county sheriff running against the corrupt Regan. Bat buys a share in a local saloon, partnering with the widow Lily. Then, after an ambush, Bat finds himself a candidate for sheriff and the heir to Ed's intentions toward Pauline, a minister's daughter. Can the upright but not always law-abiding gunslinger and saloon owner become a lawman and settle down? Or will trouble keep finding him?Written by
My vote has always been that of all the great stars identified as western heroes, none was more upright than Joel McCrea. In fact whenever he tried to vary that character, the results usually weren't that good. Even in comedy parts like his films with Preston Sturges, he's still an honorable man, albeit caught up in some lunacy.
McCrea never crossed the line into making himself look ridiculous like Dudley Doo-Right and The Gunfight at Dodge City is a case in point. Here he's playing Bat Masterson who has come into Dodge City after a killing in another town and buys an interest in the Lady Gay Saloon owned by widow Nancy Gates. Brother Ed Masterson, played by Harry Lauter is the town marshal and he's keeping company with preacher's daughter played by Julie Adams.
Brother Ed is shot in the back during a cowboy hurrahing of Dodge City and Bat steps in to take his place. He brings some law and order back to Dodge City and makes both friends and enemies in the process. And he's got both the women mentioned before interested in him.
Fate would have it, a friend from another town comes back in his life. He wants him to bust his brother, who's mentally retarded, out of custody. The brother has killed a man who was making fun of him. He owes this guy big time and he has a responsibility to his badge in Dodge City.
I won't say anything, but Joel McCrea never took the less honorable route in his cinematic career. And as for which woman he winds up with? See the film.
Also look for an unusual performance against type from Richard Anderson. Anderson usually plays nice guys and he's best known for being Lee Majors boss in the Six Million Dollar Man. He's a serpentine villain here and a good one.
I saw this when I was 12 years old when it was the second feature of a double bill. That's what McCrea westerns were relegated to at that time. But Joel McCrea was a real cowboy hero to this 12 year old.
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