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Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

A Texas town's council fires the town's old-fashioned marshal who refuses to resign, thus leading to violence from both sides.

Directors:

Don Siegel (as Allen Smithee), Robert Totten (as Allen Smithee)

Writers:

Joseph Calvelli (screenplay), Lewis B. Patten (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Widmark ... Marshal Frank Patch
Lena Horne ... Claire Quintana
Carroll O'Connor ... Lester Locke
David Opatoshu ... Edward Rosenbloom
Kent Smith ... Andrew Oxley
Jacqueline Scott ... Laurie Mills
Morgan Woodward ... Ivan Stanek
Larry Gates ... Mayor Chester Sayre
Dub Taylor ... Doc Adams
John Saxon ... Lou Trinidad
Darleen Carr ... Hilda Jorgenson
Michael McGreevey ... Dan Joslin
Royal Dano ... Arch Brandt
Jimmy Lydon ... Luke Mills (as James Lydon)
Kathleen Freeman ... Mary Elizabeth
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Storyline

In the turn-of-the century Texas town of Cottownwood Springs, marshal Frank Patch is an old-style lawman in a town determined to become modern. When he kills drunken Luke Mills in self-defense, the town leaders decide it's time for a change. They ask for Patch's resignation, but he refuses on the basis that the town on hiring him had promised him the job for as long as he wanted it. Afraid for the town's future and even more afraid of the fact that Marshal Patch knows all the town's dark secrets, the city fathers decide that old-style violence is the only way to rid themselves of the unwanted lawman. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Marshall Patch... he lived by the law of the gun...

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 August 1969 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Patch See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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

The Richard Widmark character is in a relationship with the Lena Horne character: in other words, an interracial relationship. That aspect of things is not a plot point in the movie - she's his girlfriend, and nothing more is said. At the time of the movie's release, this was touted by some involved (Widmark for one) as a sign that society had finally reached the point where such things were no longer a controversy or a big deal, and didn't need to be dealt with as part of the narrative. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film you can see the electrical wires running (presumably buried for most of their length under the differently-coloured soil) to a man's body as he is 'shot'; the last yard or so of wire -which is presumably for the gunshot SFX- is clearly visible running towards the man's ankles. See more »

Quotes

[discussing Frank Patch]
Lester Locke: There's that mayor over there drumming up a meeting with all those rich and proper jackasses - hollering and shouting around, quoting some stupid law or bylaw. Then they'll all go stomping down to the jailhouse, take a look at God Almighty, then he'll take one good look back at 'em, and they'll all wet their britches and go on home.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Who Is Alan Smithee? (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

SWEET APPLE WINE
Lyrics Carol Hall
Music Oliver Nelson
Sung by Lena Horne
See more »

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User Reviews

Alan Smithee's directorial debut
19 May 1999 | by bwaynefSee all my reviews

Started by Robert Totten, then taken over by Don Siegel at the insistence of Richard Widmark (Totten and the star "clashed," as they say), "Death of a Gunfighter" wound up credited to the fictitious and now somewhat famous Alan Smithee. This intriguing Western remains the elusive director's best work, thanks, no doubt, to the proven skills of Siegel and another terrific Widmark performance (the director and star had previously collaborated on "Madigan" a year earlier). As sheriff Widmark's love interest, Lena Horne hasn't much to do, but she looks good doing it.


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