A Time for Dying (1969)
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Well I have to agree with the first two criticisms. I can't understand how this film has been given 7 stars, but the part about Audie is wrong, wrong, wrong. When he comes onto the scene,he simply towers over the other actors, the whole movie. He's so good, and it's a real shame that he didn't live longer.
It would have been interesting if he had taken some of the other roles he was offered, such as the villain in DIRTY HARRY. It would have been a whole new direction for him, but then contemporary movies were never his thing. His whole style may have been best suited for Westerns.
Sadly, this 67-minute Boetticher picture lacks those classic qualities that distinguished his earlier oaters. The characters are sympathetic, but far from charismatic. The actor and actress were unknowns. Audie Murphy, who produced this low budget film, appears briefly as the infamous Jessie James and his presence marginally enhances the film, while Victory Jory all but steals the show with his hillbilly portrayal of the infamous hanging judge. "A Time for Dying" suffers, too, from a downbeat ending.
"A Time for Dying" opens with a sharp shooting horseman Cass Dunning (Richard Lapp of "Barquero"), blasting the head off a rattlesnake (apparently a real 'live' rattlesnake) as it is about to strike a baby rabbit. Three riders confront Cass and warn him about wearing his matched pair of six-guns tied down when he rides into nearby Silver City. When Cass challenges Billy Pimple (Robert Random of "Time Walker") about this Silver City rule, Pimple points out that he is the exception to the rule and slaps his Colt revolver that he affectionately calls 'Thunder' and 'Lightning.' Later, Cass encounters this predicament in a Silver City saloon when the patrons and the barkeep warn him about wearing sidearms tied down. Before Pimple and his cohorts ride away, Pimple tells Cass about the new girl scheduled to arrive in Silver City. She is going to be employed at Mamie's brothel, and everybody is awaiting her arrival. Anyway, Cass spots the picture of the girl that Pimple was talking about in the saloon and he asks the barkeep and patrons about Billy Pimple. The barkeep says that Pimple is itching to be the next Billy the Kid and has 'the deposition of a rattlesnake in the sun.' Pimple had bought everybody drinks on the house because he was such a sharp shooter himself. Cass demonstrates his prowess with a pistol and the barkeep clamors that Cass' shooting skills surpass Pimple.
When the stagecoach arrives, Cass rides to Nellie Winter's (Anne Randall of "The Split") rescue and carries her off with him. Nellie explains that she has had a difficult time finding a decent job. She says, "A decent job doesn't always mean the men folks will stay decent." Cass tells her that he rescued her because Nellie is the prettiest girl that he has ever seen. Moreover, he didn't want any of the men touching her. Cass has determined that he wants to become a bounty hunter. They ride into Vinegaroon, Texas, and check into a hotel.
While Nellie sleeps in the bed with her clothes in the room, Cass slumbers in the hallway with a chair tilted back against the wall and his Winchester cradled in his arms. Two of Judge Roy Bean's deputies surprise and disarm him and arrest Nellie and Cass because they have violated the 'indecent conduct' law of not registering as man and wife. Judge Roy Bean (Victor Jory of "Dodge City" who bears a remarkable resemblance to Bean) convenes his court and sentences a young horse thief to hang for his crimes. Afterward, Bean marries Cass and Nellie and tells them that they will get a hotel room to celebrate their wedding.
Later, Bean releases them and sends them on their way with a horse for Nellie to ride. Cass tells Nellie that his father is his only relative, and Nellie states that both her parents are deceased. Cass gives her a demonstration of his sharp shooting skills and Nellie is impressed. About this time, Jesse James (Audie Murphy of "The Cimarron Kid") rides up and disarms Cass. Nevertheless, Jesse admires Cass' shooting prowess. If Cass ever wants to join him, Jesse will be happy to accommodate him.
Later, a gang gets the drop on Cass and abducts Nellie and takes her into Silver City. Eventually, Cass has a showdown with Pimple and Pimple kills him when Cass refuses to draw on him.
Apart from Murphy's single scene in the movie, Boetticher's savory dialogue and lenser Lucian Ballard's color cinematography are the best assets of "A Time for Dying."