First, let me say that I am a big fan of the 1950 Winchester 73 movie starring Jimmy Stewart, Shelly Winters, Steven McNally, Millard Mitchell (High Spade, Stewart's sidekick), and Dan Duryea (Waco Johnny Dean, (McNally's sidekick). McNally and Stewart are brothers. I have enjoyed it many, many times. One of the gems in this movie is the short performance by John McIntyre as an Indian gun runner at the Tascosa trading post. Finding this version on TV, I decided to give it a try.
Dan Duryea, who played Waco Johnny Dean, in the original movie is introduced as Bart McAdam, the father of an angry and bitter Dakin McAdam (John Saxon) early in this version. Bart has convinced his brother, Ben McAdam (Paul Fix) to offer the prized Winchester as the reward for the shooting match in hopes of attracting Dakin, recently released from prison, to the contest. Sheriff Lin McCadam, (Tom Tyron), Ben's son and Dakin's cousin is rebuffed when he tries to make nice with Dakin when the meet just before the contest.
After the initial stage of the contest, only Dakin and Lin are left in the contest. They take turns driving nails into a board (With the fabled rifle). Lin wins when he hits a dime thrown in the air. Dakin sulks away. He confronts his uncle, Ben McAdam (Lin's dad) who is just starting to engrave the rifle, kills him and leaves to follow his gang to Tascosa. Bart tries to convince Lin that the shooting was self defense.
Lin tries to convinces Dan McAdam, son of Ben, (David Pritchart) to accept a deputy badge instead of just hunting down Dakin, but Dan rides out for Starett's the night before his father's funeral. At the burial, Bart tries to convince Lin that the shooting was self defense.
When Dakin arrives at Starett's he meets John Dehner (High Spade Johnny Dean)- (The John McIntyre gun runner role in the original, not Stewarts sidekick Hi Spade). Dehner and Gavin play poker, finally for THE gun. Dehner wins. Dehner angers An Indian, who kills him, taking the Winchester. Dakin is trailing behind and attempts to regain the rifle. The Indian shoots his horse, but Dakin gets Dehner's handgun. David arrives at Starett's just before Dakin returns. Starett runs them off, giving Dakin a 30 minute head start. Dakin takes David's horse, leaving him on foot. When Lin shows up later, he leaves David on foot at Starett's.
The Indian attacks a small group of Mexicans and Lin comes along. He engages the Indian one on one, killing him. Not realizing the Indian had his rifle, he rides off. Thinking the rifle to cursed, the Mexicans decide to take it to the padre for blessing.
Soon Dakin has caught up with his gang in Tascosa, where they plan to commit a robbery. Lin walks in to Joan Blondell's Catina and confronts his cousin Dakin. Meanwhile, Bart & Ben have caught the stage and have arrived in Tascosa. Bart convinces Lin that Dakin will surrender in the church at midnight. David smells an ambush. Leaving David behind, Bart and Lin meet Dakin in the church, and up pop Dakin's gang. Now we learn that the robbery is to be the church's holy treasures. As the robbery is completed, the Mexican family bring the Winchester into the church to be blessed. Dakin urges the young girl to bring him the gun and Bart knocks him aside to grab the gun. Dakin recovers and wounds Bart (his father). In the ensuing fight, as Dakin tries to kill Lin, David finishes off the 2 members of the gang, recovering the treasures. Dakin and Lin, fighting on the church grounds outside end up with Lin shooting his cousin. This was a better than average made-for-TV western, but did not measure up to the original Winchester 73. The original was better written, better acted, better directed, and had a more realistic storyline.
Waco Johnny Dean was the sidekick of Dutch Henry Brown, the estranged brother of Lin McAdam in the original movie. Tom Tyron is his cousin, Lin McAdam.
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