7.4/10
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68 user 24 critic

Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)

A marshal tries to bring the son of an old friend, an autocratic cattle baron, to justice for his role in the rape and murder of the marshal's Native American wife.

Director:

John Sturges

Writers:

Les Crutchfield (story "Showdown"), James Poe (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Kirk Douglas ... Marshal Matt Morgan
Anthony Quinn ... Craig Belden
Carolyn Jones ... Linda
Earl Holliman ... Rick Belden
Brad Dexter ... Beero
Brian G. Hutton ... Lee Smithers (as Brian Hutton)
Ziva Rodann ... Catherine Morgan
Bing Russell ... Skag
Val Avery ... Steve, Horseshoe Bartender'
Walter Sande ... Sheriff Bartlett
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Storyline

The wife of marshal Matt Morgan is raped and murdered. The killers leave behind a distinctive saddle, that Morgan recognises as belonging to his old friend Craig Belden, now cattle baron in the town of Gun Hill. Belden is sympathetic, until it transpires that one of the murderers is his own son Rick, whom he refuses to hand over. Morgan is determined to capture Rick and take him away by the 9.00 train; but he is trapped in the town alone, with Belden and all his men now looking to kill him. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Each Owed the Other His Life. This Was the Moment of Reckoning! See more »

Genres:

Romance | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 1959 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

Last Train from Harper's Junction See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Additional filming took place on May 28th and 29th, 1958. See more »

Goofs

When Linda changes clothes, a white strap suddenly appears then disappears on her left shoulder. See more »

Quotes

Craig Belden: Suppose I could locate them for you?
Marshal Matt Morgan: I'd take them both back to Pawley. They'll stand trial for rape and murder.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Guns for Hire: The Making of 'The Magnificent Seven' (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Polly Wolly Doodle
(uncredited)
Attributed to Dan Emmett
See more »

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User Reviews

 
a very fine western in due to its mounting complex look at justice and star power
26 August 2007 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Last Train from Gun Hill has the star power to help back up a storyline that is, on the surface, seemingly too straightforward: a Marshall (Kirk Douglas) finds that his wife has been killed. When he finds out that it is the son of a cattle baron (Anthony Quinn), despite his old friendship with the baron, he decides to bring the son to justice, holding him by gunpoint in the town hotel until the train comes to take them off to jail- while the baron has his men outside with their guns poised. There's a touchy element to who the son (played as a snidely little kid in Earl Holliman) killed, which was that the Marshall's wife was a Native American. But more impressive in the script, and through John Sturges's steadfast professionalism, is how there's the tension between law and the personal, the immediate draw of a gun draw to solve anything, and the bitterness of real vengeance (watch Douglas's Marshall tell Rick about how he'll be the only one to hear his own brain cry out as he hangs dying, perfectly acted).

Although it's likely that Douglas and Sturges were in or made better westerns, this is the kind of work that doesn't age in much a way that cheapens the questions poised or the invigorating style. It's a fairly violent film too, with a couple of deaths by the train tracks at night all the more effective from the taunting build-up and the pay-off in one shotgun fired off, and always the threat much more tension-filled than the result. Granted, when a big fire ends up happening, it looks very much like it's on a sound-stage and without a whole lot of suspense (save for the typical but strong 'who will get the gun first' moment between the Marshall and Rick in the bedroom), but it's the ambiance of the characters, the dread over this dangerous mix of volatile father and townsman- a better than average Quinn without being too hammy- and a good man driven to vengeance in bad-ass Douglas, and the determined woman (Carolyn Jones) that makes it so compelling. There's even a slight feeling of unpredictability in the situation- in a town where reputation trumps what is good and decent, but also where emotions run high as can be, the stakes are high for chance.

By the very end it feels like it should be more formulaic, and there are bits where the dialog does come off as brawny ol' western genre jargon (look simply at some of the quotes on the IMDb page as example). But if you happen to come across it on TV one Sunday afternoon, as I did, it's worth the time to sit and get absorbed by a well done star vehicle.


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