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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: JoeH on March 19, 2005, 11:28:30 AM



Title: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: JoeH on March 19, 2005, 11:28:30 AM
A few days ago I saw The Gunfighter (with Gregory Peck) for the first time. And I really love this movie! The story is exciting and critical, the characters are well designed and the atmosphere is very nice. In my opinion TGf is as great as High Noon, although it's not very well-known.
What do you think? Can The Gunfighter keep up with High Noon?


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: JoeH on March 20, 2005, 12:47:13 AM
And why do you think that? I mean the film ciritcizes the society, because all the citizens of the town don't want to help him, although he was the guy who brought them peace. I think you could even go deeper and interpret that as a reference to historical events. Another point in High Noon that's really outstanding and great is the fact that the time in the film corresponds more or less exactly to the real time that passes when you watch it. That creates an extraordinary tension. Beyond that the design of Gary Cooper's character is brilliant. He doesn't know what he should do (escape or stay) and when he decides he has doubts about what he decided.

I think these are the aspects that make High Noon so special and in my opinion it's NOT overrated ;)


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: cigar joe on March 20, 2005, 05:04:26 AM
I saw The Gunfighter recently on AMC it was a good film sort of portrayed Wild Bill Hickock's problems to a small extent. Unfortunately the film was Pan & Scan and the effect made it look grainy.

I definitely agree with Leone's position that female storylines and actresses slowed down the pace of a lot of good 40's & 50's Hollywood westerns.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: JoeH on March 20, 2005, 05:20:33 AM
You're absolutely right, cigar joe. In most of the old westerns (and not only old westerns) where women play a more or less important role, they are annoying. They're not really part of the story they're only an additive to make the film more romantic and commercially successful. Leone knew how to avoid making this flaw as we can see in Once Upon a Time in the West where Jill is not only a beautiful, well-behaving object, but an interesting individual.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on July 13, 2005, 06:48:56 AM
I'm not a big fan of "High Noon" either, derringdo.  It's good but one of the best Westerns ever?  No way.  I personally prefer "Rio Bravo", if only because it's fun rather than trying to bog us down in allegorical hoo-ha.

I've not seen "The Gunfighter", despite having many chances to do so.  Shame on me.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: redyred on July 13, 2005, 10:37:09 AM
And why do you think that? I mean the film ciritcizes the society, because all the citizens of the town don't want to help him, although he was the guy who brought them peace. I think you could even go deeper and interpret that as a reference to historical events. Another point in High Noon that's really outstanding and great is the fact that the time in the film corresponds more or less exactly to the real time that passes when you watch it. That creates an extraordinary tension. Beyond that the design of Gary Cooper's character is brilliant. He doesn't know what he should do (escape or stay) and when he decides he has doubts about what he decided.

High Noon was actually (loosely) an allegory for the HUAC blacklist - the towns citizens represent Hollywood, Cooper represents the blacklisted actors - the townfolk's behaviour is an allegory for the lack of solidarity in Hollywood during the blacklist. But like I said it was only a loose allegory - there are several themes going on just like in pretty much every film.

Just a few points on why I think High Noon is deservedly a classic. Aside from the use of real time, there are a number of ways Zinnemann builds up the tension - those shots of clocks. At the start of the film they're in the background and our attention isn't drawn to them. As the film progresses they get closer and closer until we have them filling the screen in the last few minutes.

The use of deliberately over-exposed film gives the picture a stark, stifling look. A feeling of menace is generated with the three gunmen lounging around at the station. It's also brilliant the way Frank Miller is talked about throughout the movie, and this image of him as a monster is built up, but we don't even see him onscreen til the last ten minutes.

I do agree there is a some clunky dialogue though.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on January 14, 2006, 04:50:55 PM
I saw "The Gunfighter" today and I thought it was rather good.  I'd have to see "High Noon" again to compare it, but I enjoyed the film.  Gregory Peck was amazing and it was fun to see a young Karl Malden, as a likeable character, yet. :P I'd recommend it, 8/10.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Christopher on January 15, 2006, 04:22:24 PM
I'd like to see The Gunfighter. I saw it was on yesterday, but I wound up watching Enter the Ninja with Franco Nero on another channel. ;D


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 15, 2006, 08:31:42 PM
I saw "The Gunfighter" today and I thought it was rather good.  I'd have to see "High Noon" again to compare it, but I enjoyed the film.  Gregory Peck was amazing and it was fun to see a young Karl Malden, as a likeable character, yet. :P I'd recommend it, 8/10.
In retrospect, both High Noon and The Gunfighter seem like long TV episodes. Good TV episodes, to be sure, but not as interesting as more complicated movie Westerns.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Leone Admirer on January 16, 2006, 07:44:40 AM
I can see how you say that Dave but I think there is more to High Noon and The Gunfighter then that. I keep on harking on about a great noir called The Set Up with Robert Ryan which follows the same pattern as High Noon but that definatly needed the film medium to carry it off due to the cinematography and sound design like High Noon and The Gunfighter. I feel that films like these do lose quite a bit of impact when they are seen on the small screen compared to that of the large silver screen. These are just my opinions.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: titoli on December 22, 2008, 06:29:28 PM
One of the most perfect, paradigmatical AW's ever. Only thing I don't like is the actress playing Peck's  wife (all characters are harping on how beautiful she is, but to me she looks quite plain and nothing a Johnny Ringo would be losing his sleep for) and the finale in the church: was there any need for it ?

SPOILER

Expecially after the original way Peck's demise is expedited. The logical finale would have been to see how the murderer takes Peck's place.(BTW I can't see who's the rider in the last shot: the murdere or Peck?)

Anyway an infinitely much better finale than High Noon's. Peck and Mitchell are huge. 9\10


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: stanton on December 23, 2008, 02:10:22 AM
Unfortunately the film was Pan & Scan and the effect made it look grainy.


The film was made in 1,33:1, so the p&s is just right. In this years (early 50s) the only used aspect ratio.

I have a friend who is permanently complainig about films on DVD or TV not to be in 2,35:1. But most of them are presented in the correct format of 1,33:1 or 1,78 or 1,85:1. He simply complains without checking.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: stanton on December 23, 2008, 02:17:15 AM
In retrospect, both High Noon and The Gunfighter seem like long TV episodes. Good TV episodes, to be sure, but not as interesting as more complicated movie Westerns.

You may complain about High Noon as a pretentious film, but to compare such a brillantly directed film with the often simply made TV episodes, is a bit funny. Both TG and HN are really directed, and they should be seen on a big screen.

Btw what are "complicated movie westerns" in comparison to those 2?


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: cigar joe on December 23, 2008, 04:33:07 AM
To me everything on AMC seems pan and scanned I get to expect it,  O0, it may have just been the print, it just didn't seem as clean sharp as it should be.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on December 23, 2008, 06:36:27 AM
To me everything on AMC seems pan and scanned I get to expect it,  O0, it may have just been the print, it just didn't seem as clean sharp as it should be.

Fox Movie Channel shows this one every once in awhile in OAR, so keep an out on there. (I don't recall though if this movie was a widescreen or full screen)


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: stanton on December 23, 2008, 08:52:43 AM
As I said above full screen.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: dave jenkins on December 23, 2008, 02:46:01 PM
You may complain about High Noon as a pretentious film, but to compare such a brillantly directed film with the often simply made TV episodes, is a bit funny. Both TG and HN are really directed, and they should be seen on a big screen.

Btw what are "complicated movie westerns" in comparison to those 2?
HN is not merely pretentious, it has a script shot through with logical fallacies. Yes, it is well directed (I have conceded this before), but a lot of television Westerns were as well (they had to be). The problem with TV Westerns were their short running times, which called for simple, town-based stories. I really hate town-based Westerns: if you're gonna do a Western, get out into the country, I say. Give me something with range and scope: like a Leone film. Give me a story, something that unfolds over time, rather than merely a situation. Situation dramas just bore me.

The one TV Western that I rather liked/like was Wanted Dead or Alive. They were each only about 22 minutes long (intended to fill a 30 minute slot), so they had to get the hero in and out quick. In the nature of the case, they all had to be situation-based dramas, but at least they were over quickly. There was none of the milking that went on with longer shows like Gunsmoke or Bonanza, where the plot was dragged out to fill the available time.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on December 23, 2008, 04:28:27 PM
I take it you don't like Man Who Shot Liberty Valance then? :-\


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Dust Devil on May 16, 2009, 08:16:11 PM
I wasn't blow away by The Gunfighter but I respect it. It could not have been easy make an exciting Western about a gunslinger who only wants to keep away from troubles and retire to a peaceful place back in the early 50s. Good performances from Gregory Peck and Millard Mitchell (who was in Winchester '73 the same year), keep this sometimes inert talkie Western afloat. Karl Malden is interesting to watch in one of his first roles.


7.25/10


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: T.H. on May 31, 2010, 12:35:39 PM
It's a nice, well written, safe movie that could have been great if not for the bland visuals. It has a great pace but ultimately isn't that memorable. I'm thinking that Leon Shamroy should be given the bulk of the credit for The Bravados.

*While I have my issues with HIGH NOON, I don't think you can say the movie is free of powerful imagery.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on May 31, 2010, 12:51:54 PM
This has to be one of the first "old gunfighter wants to retire but can't" Westerns. I guess it deserves credit for that.

I've wanted to rewatch this for awhile but can't seem to track it down. Is it on DVD?


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: T.H. on May 31, 2010, 01:14:52 PM
It was on AMC a couple days ago. I assume it will play again sometime soon.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: dave jenkins on May 31, 2010, 01:16:06 PM
I've wanted to rewatch this for awhile but can't seem to track it down. Is it on DVD?
Yes, it is.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Jill on June 14, 2010, 04:33:57 PM
The Gunfighter (1950) - 8/10



About time I got it. Reminded me on High Noon, and, as a surprise, on Le quai des brumes. These lonely, badass anti-heroes always get it as soon as they begin to dream of a better life...

Gregory Peck rocks as usual.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Jill on June 14, 2010, 04:43:08 PM
A good movie, and balances nicely between satire/irony and drama. (Old gossipy hens vs Ringo - priceless.  ;D)

And Gregory Peck is wonderful as always.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 11, 2011, 11:15:40 AM
The Gunfighter is a very good movie.

I'm not sure how it is that every thread RE: American Westerns ends up being a debate over High Noon ;D but I thought High Noon was very overrated.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on February 11, 2011, 03:58:43 PM
I really need to rewatch this flick.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Groggy on May 10, 2011, 09:20:18 AM
Quote
The Gunfighter (1950) is one of the most mature, well-made Westerns Hollywood ever released. Gregory Peck and Henry King had already proven a winning team on 1949's Twelve O'Clock High, and they create a memorably unique oater here.

Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) is a legendary gunfighter who only wants to escape his past. After killing Eddie (Richard Jaeckal), a young man who challenges him to a duel, Ringo flees the man's brothers and visits the town of Cayenne. He soon learns he's not welcome: his old buddy Mark (Millard Mitchell) is now the town Marshal, old flame Peggy (Helen Westcott) doesn't want to see him and various townspeople want him either run out of town or dead. Among the troublemakers are Jerry Marlowe (Cliff Clark), who has a score to settle with Ringo, and Hunt Broemley (Skip Hoemier), a cocky loudmouth who yearns to be "the man who killed Jimmy Ringo."

The Gunfighter is a key title in the "psychological Western" subgenre which flourished in the '50s. High Noon, The Man from Laramie and The Searchers get more acclaim and attention but King's film is even better than those classics. Hitting on a "death of the West" theme much expanded on by Mann, Peckinpah and Eastwood (among others), King shoots the gunfighter myth full of holes without getting wrapped up in "revisionist" posturing.

The Gunfighter scores points for its sober realism and well-observed drama. Ringo is a radical departure from the standard gunslinger, a not especially likeable character worn down from endless challenges by cocky "squirts." When The Magnificent Seven complain about how tough it is being a gunfighter, it seems like callow whining, but Ringo, not even welcome among friends and lovers, definitely earns the right to complain. He doesn't even get a showdown with Eddie's vengeful brothers, Fate dealing him a most ignoble death.

This complexity extends to other characters, too. Peggy is a most unusual love interest, holding onto some affection for Ringo but initially refusing to see him, let alone their son. The conflicted Marshal, a "singer" friend of Ringo's (Jean Parker) and the friendly barman (Karl Malden) also make strong impressions. Thrill-seeking kids swarm Ringo wherever he goes, similar to The Wild Bunch, making him a walking spectacle. There's some light comic relief, especially when Ringo confers with an unknowing gaggle of old biddies intent on running, but the film remains consistently down to earth. Nothing strikes a false note, and even the sentimental ending seems appropriate.

King's direction is fairly restrained. Most of the movie is town-bound, relying on Arthur C. Miller's moody photography for affect. There's not much gunplay, and the film is talky by Western standards, but King keeps things interesting by consistently avoiding cliches. Obvious confrontations are aborted and the characters develop in unexpected ways. Alfred Newman contributes a nice score reminiscent of later work on The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

Gregory Peck gives what might be his best performance. He makes Ringo believably coarse and bitter with just enough hope to keep him going. Helen Westcott (God's Little Acre) gets a memorable part, tough-minded but soft enough to (almost) forgive Ringo. Millard Mitchell (The Naked Spur) does fine work as the Marshal, and Karl Malden (On the Waterfront) shines playing a chummy bartender. Jean Parker (Rasputin and the Empress) has a nice bit as an old acquaintance of Ringo. Skip Homeier (The Tall T) and Richard Jaeckal (3:10 to Yuma) are appropriately snotty as the "squirts" seeking a name for themsleves.

The Gunfighter is one of the all-time great Westerns. With its closely-observed drama, well-rounded characters and avoidance of cliche (if not convention), it's definitely an interesting and unique film.  /10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2011/05/gunfighter.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2011/05/gunfighter.html)


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 21, 2014, 10:02:50 PM
Just re-watched this movie on TCM.

This is a great, great movie. 9.5/10

With the exception of his Oscar-winning performance in To Kill a Mockingbird, I generally only really like Peck in his Westerns. In his other movies, he is almost always playing the stiff good guy, trying to take advantage of his leading-man looks, and there's nothing very interesting about it, kinda like a younger and better looking Walter Pidgeon, always playing the straight good guy; maybe he was the best-looking man in Hollywood, but what the hell do I give a damn about that?
But in his Westerns, he plays, if not a real "bad" guy, at least a character who isn't a typical good guy either – think The Bravados, The Gunfighter, and even Yellow Sky (a movie I didn't like, but it's another Western where Peck is playing an antihero.
I thought he was just terrific here in The Gunfighter.

According to Ben Manckiewicz on TCM, Director Henry King went totally for an authentic look, including the mustache, but Darryl Zanuck was so upset that he put a mustache on the best-looking man in the world that he considered re-shooting all of Peck's scenes (before balking at the cost), and then when the movie did poorly at the box office, Zanuck blamed the mustache! (I can't understand how Zanuck wouldn't have known about the mustache during shooting, or done something about it then if he was so upset about it.)
Anyway, it ain't my money, but Thank God they left that mustache on; Peck looks perfect in it.
And of course, the movies that turn out to be classics don't always make money on initial run at the box office.
---
UPDATE: I just read in a review, which I'll cut and paste in the next post, that 45 Gregory Peck fan clubs - yes, 45 - wrote letters to Zanuck asking that he make Peck remove the mustache.
I'll have to assume they were all female fan clubs. ;)

--------
I also liked the tracking shots; quite a few of the shots in the streets were tracking shots; I love the dolly almost as much as Max Ophuls did  ;)

The TCM print looks great. I hope the DVD is at least as good.

This is IMO one of the ten greatest AW's ever made.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 22, 2014, 02:47:08 AM
I saw a nice review of this movie at http://www.metalasylum.com/ragingbull/movies/gunfighter.html

The review exceeds the 10,000-character max. for one post so I'll have to post it in two parts:



by Mike Lorefice
6/15/03


"That's a fine life, ain't it? Just trying to stay alive. Not really living. Not enjoying anything. Not getting anywhere. Just trying to keep from getting killed… Just waiting to get knocked off by some tough kid, like the kind of kid I was" - Jimmie Ringo

With the sad news of the passing of Gregory Peck, we've heard much about his iconography in the past few days. We've heard about a rugged handsome heroic noble earnest everyman that brought integrity and decency to the screen. We've heard about the righteousness and virtue of his legendary Atticus Finch character in the film that head Annihilator Jack Valenti has laughably claimed was the first Hollywood film to deal honestly with racial issues. But there was a lot more to Peck's screen work than this, and it often came out in his collaborations with director Henry King, who continually cast him against type.

The duo combined for six films from 1949-59 (King, who was born in 1886, made only one film after this), the best remembered being the great Twelve O' Clock High where Peck takes over a floundering bomber group and has to be much less likeable than he's known for and perhaps his character can stand to be in order to whip the unit into shape. In the bible film David & Bathsheba, Peck's character has everything but falls in love with the wife of one of his soldiers and brings the wrath of god on the kingdom. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, he's a very successful writer that reflects largely on his failures, particularly the love that got away because he was too busy roaming the earth in search of material, as he lies badly wounded. Probably his most interesting role is The Bravados, an Anthony Mann type western where he's a hardened obsessed man relentlessly hunting four unknown men that raped and murdered his wife, and he's so hell bent on killing he's not going to worry about getting any proof. In Beloved Infidel, he plays famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, but during his last years when his wife was in an asylum and he was a has-been battling alcoholism.

At least to my mind, the best of the King-Peck collaborations was the first great penetrating psychological antiwestern The Gunfighter, which I'd rank among the top 10 westerns of all-time. Peck brilliantly plays Jimmie Ringo (based on the real killer Johnnie Ringo, who was arguably a faster shot than more famous contemporaries Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, & Wild Bill Hickock), an aging weary gunslinger that returns to try to see his estranged wife Peggie who is going by the last name Walsh and meet his child in hope of finding some reason to go on living. The role was written with John Wayne in mind, but beyond Wayne not being in Peck's class as an actor, the big reason Peck is a better choice is that he's not invincible. Everyone in the film is always saying he doesn't look that tough, and it's true of Peck who seems much more vulnerable because he's one of those guys that simply gets the job done.

Instead of cool gunfights and glorious scenery, the film depicts western life as a vicious cycle of brash wild young punks being hunters until they've knocked off one of the top dogs, at which point they graduate to being the hunted. The thing is, they don't know what the real west is like until they've tried going out in it. The difference between the hunter and hunted is seen in how they act. The hunters are braggers and showoffs, annoyances that are just out for glory and attention, while the hunted act like they've done it before and don't draw attention to themselves with any special emotion or expression. The hunters want what the hunted has, while the hunted want what they left behind.

Some of the tension is created by the fact Ringo is on the run again. Well, he's always on the run, but this time from very specific people. After once again drawing second and killing a squirt trying to make a name for himself, he flees to the area Peggie is in to avoid the squirts three brothers, who have nothing to say when Ringo asks, "What was I supposed to do, just stand there and let that little boy shoot me full of holes?" This noirish storyline of a man who can't escape his past is aided by the use of the clock, which like the whole adult antiwestern bit is for some reason instead attributed to High Noon despite Gunfighter coming out two years earlier. I think the clock creates much more tension here because there's no set time for the brothers arrival. The unknown is always more terrifying than the known, and King works the references to it in much more naturally through the unease of Ringo and the few that know and care what he's up against. Every minute he tries to meet his wife to patch things up is a minute closer to getting blown away if the brothers arrive, but also to screwing things up if the town finds out that school teacher Peggie (Helen Westcott), his old running mate now Marshall Mark Strett (a fine turn by Millard Mitchell), & son Jimmie's (B.G. Norman) are linked to him. Despite how much Ringo's fame has grown in the last 8 years, it's not very plausible that no one knows who Mark & Peggie really are. However, if you can suspend disbelief enough to run with their angle on stardom determining who can't start over, the script works excellently.

More tension is created by the fact that any number of people could kill Ringo because people are after him even for killings he wasn't involved in, but mostly because the thinking is that they'd all gain from it. Aside from the brothers, the top prospect is local hot shot Hunt Bromley (Skip Homeier), who is extremely jealous of Ringo's reputation and fame (and wants Peggie though like virtually everyone else he doesn't know she's linked to Ringo). His lust for what he thinks Ringo has grows that much more when all the boys in the town are disappointed to see him because they thought it might be Ringo. "Ah shucks, that's just Hunt Bromley." Another adds, "Ringo wouldn't spit on Hunt Bromley."

Most of the tension is the awkward tension of human relations. In the more amusing cases, characters are indicting Ringo to either Ringo or someone that is fond of him without knowing it. These show a retrospective side of Ringo that is pretty realistic and fair about himself, certainly less narrow-minded than the people that believe they know him. The more serious examples involve Peggie or Mark. The perspective here, like the rest of the film, is wise and intelligent. The ways these relations are effected by how others would view them, and how that will in turn affect their community standing, is more important than what the people themselves would like. The hunter brothers are commonplace to Ringo because he has people gunning for him all the time. What's rare is that he's around people who are truly important to him. When it comes to Peggie, Ringo can't bring himself to be realistic because he needs a reason to live. Peggie and Mark would like to help provide that but don't want to compromise what they've worked to achieve any more than they have to, especially for a pipe dream. While you can long for the good of the past, you still have to live in the present. Every time Ringo is ready to keep living by fleeing the three brothers, a strand of hope that the present could be worth living for is dangled before him.

The whole thrust of the film is that Ringo badly wants to change, but isn't allowed to. It illustrates the point that you can adjust all you want, but that can do you no good if others are totally unwilling to adjust to your adjustment. Ringo bears the heavy burden of his past, but in essence he's no different than many performing artists. He wanted badly to make a name for himself, but later realized he made it on something that wasn't good and/or no longer interests him. Despite his fame, he's stuck because the only opportunity is for another repeat performance.

The film is always timely because it's more about society making heroes of killers. Would be killers think it's cool because they see the positives of this stardom, all the attention and how these stars are treated special by everyone. After becoming killers they eventually see the bad of it, that you can never relax because you are always being hunted and you are also a constant danger to everyone around you, especially the ones you care about. Then they want to change, but it's too late; there's no way out except the grave.




review continued in next post


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on December 22, 2014, 02:48:29 AM
review continued from previous post:



One aspect that makes the film so successful is that the entire population of the town is brought to life. Everyone's point of view comes out through conversations with other characters, but there are enough characters and these conversations come at the right time and in a believable setting so they don't seem like contrived lines that exist solely to tell the audience the plot. Too often, you get the star and then you get a collective whole. Here, the star is still the focus, but he doesn't have to be on the screen as long as he's the center of attention. What this means is that the star can be defined by other people's perceptions of him, but also importantly the other characters can be defined by their perception of the star. There are so many people in the town that they will be broadly defined if not types, but the film is using people that really exist in an honest rather than insidious manner. It is extremely well thought out and written, succeeding in getting across where the character is coming from and/or their mentality in one or two lines. For instance, a guy in the bar warns his brasher friend, "If he ain't so tough there's been an awful lot of sudden natural deaths in his vicinity."

We see how the entire town is changed by the presence of the celebrity. Everyone that ever came into contact with him remembers vividly, and hopes he remembers them. Everyone that hasn't come into contact with him feels the need to check him out. School is called off because all the boys skip to see him. They all have to have their opinion on him and how he should be treated. For some reason (isn't every town supposed to be the same for him?) Ringo is very slow to see that his presence or absences is always at the root, originally blaming others for things he sees that aren't right then having to swallow his tongue.

The mistake of most films is in going overboard to convince us the criminal hero shouldn't lie in their bed. Despite Peck's integrity and quiet strength, the film is wisely wavering in its sympathy toward him. We grow closer to him because what he says is true and we see what a good non-confrontational citizen he's trying to be, with his plea of "Now listen partner, I come in here minding my own business. Now how bout letting me go out the same way?" But then we are pulled away by negative revelations about his past. There's certainly a part of us that would like to see how he would do if given the chance to be an honest family man. This is justified by how well Mark & Peggie, now the two most respected members of the community have turned out. But it doesn't try to delude us into thinking he could ever get that chance, with Peck playing Ringo with great regret and fleeting hope stemming from desperation. The film is much better for being more about getting people to think about what they are getting themselves into, as the next generation still has the chance Ringo longs for.
It's hard to understand why this film doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I suppose at the time people weren't ready for it. It is a great story with a lot of truth, but it is a dark film that turns the tables on the viewer and asks them to inspect the reasons they love westerns. We later saw how well Michael Powell's Peeping Tom was initially received for doing that type of thing. The Gunfighter gets rid of most of the gun fighting, the romance, the horse riding, the scenery, the spaciousness, the nostalgia, and the phony Hollywood glamorization. It replaces them with a more realistic distanced view of the trials and tribulations those people went through with the strained relationships, life on the run, and fools killing to be "special", mainly all seen from inside nondescript interiors. In trying to be as authentic as possible, Peck sported a walrus moustache. Typical of trichophobic Americans, members of 45 different Peck fan clubs responded by begging the studio to make him shave it. So when the film wasn't a success (it even failed to earn Peck a nod from the bogus Academy despite him being nominated four of the previous five years, all for lesser performances), Darryl Zanuck, who had been against it all along, blamed the moustache.

The big thing against this film in retrospect, other than the lack of showings, is it's directed by Henry King. King was one of the fine directors that thrived under the studio system. He was sure and steady, giving everything room to breathe and just letting the story and actors do their job. His films didn't always work, sometimes even bombed, but he worked on many types of films and usually succeeded. It's just not cool to like him because of the auteur theory. There's nothing individual or distinguishable about his films, no visual style, no traits or common themes, so obviously he must suck.

*Spoilers*

The one place the film goes wrong, and badly so, is the finish. When you are making a grim tragedy, you have to have the balls to end with grim tragedy trusting that great art is always uplifting no matter how bleak it is in its greatness. Hunt jumps out and shoots Ringo in the back, and Ringo should die right after asserting the story be that he drew first. We are intelligent enough to know Ringo is saying this to place the curse of fame on Hunt. We don't need the big speech explaining what was already put across extremely well in a much more natural and less direct manner; it just dumbs the film down. Mark beats Hunt up, perhaps to show he is as tough as Ringo says, perhaps to show he hasn't changed as much as we thought, or maybe just to provide a little action, it's tough to say. To make things even more corny, we get Peggie and little Jimmie finally admitting they are Ringo's family to get in the funeral, but there's no sign of shock, no funny looks, no hint that they'll now be branded and tarnished by their association with him. Finally, we get a hokey shot of Ringo riding off into the sunset to delude us into forgetting he's dead and buried or who knows what kind of nonsense as long as it delivers a happy shiny feeling. Luckily, the first 80+ minutes are so intelligent and exceptional that no tacked on stupidity could kill the overall quality of the film.



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I enjoyed this review, but firstly, I'm not at all sure that I agree with this guy that Gregory Peck was a better actor than John Wayne.

And RE: this guy's feelings about the ending discussed in the final paragraph of his review:

- I thought Ringo's dying speech to Hunt was ok, a nice summation of the theme (although perhaps it could have been a bit shorter);
- I agree with him that the marshal's speech to Hunt is useless - he is essentially repeating Ringo's speech;
-  have very mixed feelings about the marshal beating up Hunt at the end; as the reviewer says, maybe it's to show that the marshal really never was a great guy. Or maybe it'x cuz he doesn't want him to get away scot-free even though he can't arrest him cuz Ringo said he should go free. But a marshal-using his tin star to do an extra-judicial beating certainly rubs me the wrong way and doesn't bring any honor to law enforcement (then again, perhaps that's appropriate, since I think law enforcement often are a bunch of jerks, a bunch of thugs, allowed to do what they want cuz they have a badge).
- it doesn't make sense that Peggie now calls Mrs. Ringo at the end. - that's just movie-cutesie stuff. It would make much more sense if her true identity remained unknown, and she certainly wouldn't tell her son the truth of who his daddy is, cuz she wouldn't want him to admire him. Her desire to protect her son from his dad's identity should remain even after his dad is dead
- RE: what this reviewer calls "a hokey shot of Ringo riding off into the sunset to delude us into forgetting he's dead and buried or who knows what kind of nonsense as long as it delivers a happy shiny feeling" - I'm not sure that that shot is supposed to be Ringo (we never see his face) - perhaps it's supposed to be Hunt, not riding off into the sunset, but riding in the desert, showing that he is now living a life on the run. Or, perhaps it isn't meant to be specifically Ringo or Hunt, but just the anonymous "gunfighter," this general mythic character.


Title: Re: The Gunfighter (1950)
Post by: Moorman on January 18, 2017, 12:18:20 PM
I saw this for the first time today. It was a good movie.  As good as High Noon?  No.  Worth purchasing and adding to my dvd collection? Yes.

What i liked:

The cinematography. Just the fact it shot in black and white earns points in my book.  

The acting.  All the characters were on point. This is my first introduction to Gregory Peck. He nailed his character.

The script.  The premise was very good, until...


What i didn't like:

The ending.  Ringo's speech. The wife suddenly owning up to him after the fact.

The script.  In High Noon,  all the suspense build up was something that you enjoyed because of the premise of the Marshall waiting until noon to deal with his problem.  In The Gunfighter, it was like " will Ringo EVER leave that  bar?" lmao  Everytime you thought he would leave, something pulled him back. I lost count of the number of times it happened. It was annoying because it became clear that while he was IN the bar, there was not gonna be any action going down.

The gunfights.  Was censorship behind this?  When Ringo had his first gunfight,  they only showed the other character after the fact of getting shot, then cut to Ringo holding his gun.  They wouldn't show the actual shooting.  Same thing when his brothers were ambushed by Ringo.  Only during the last gunfight did they show any semblance of a real gunfight.


Again, overall, its a good movie and worthy to add to my collection.  I rate it 7 out of 10...