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: Gunfight in Abilene (1967)  ( 236 )

« : April 26, 2017, 01:08:50 AM »

Amy. If I run now I'm finished.

Gunfight in Abilene is directed by William Hale and adapted to screenplay by John Black and Bernie Giler from the story "Gun Shy" written by Clarence Upson Young. It stars Bobby Darin, Emily Banks, Leslie Nielsen and Don Galloway. Music is by Darin, with Joseph Gershenson overseeing things, and cinematography is by Maury Gertsman. Out of Universal Pictures it's a Technicolor/Techniscope production.

Young's story had already made it to the big screen in 1956 as Showdown at Abilene, where Giler also adapted the screenplay and Howard Christie again produced. That Jock Mahoney starrer is a decent Oater, a safe story of formula with a solid lead performance, but certainly nothing to get excited about. But by comparison to the 1967 remake it's a masterpiece! Plot sees Darin's Confederate soldier accidentally kill a pal during the war and swears off guns forever. Upon the war's end he returns to Abilene, gets coerced into becoming the peaceable sheriff and has to clean up the town without using guns. Not easy since there is a war raging between the cattlemen and the farmers and he is pitched into the middle of it. Will he take up arms again? Will he find contented love in the arms of Amy Martin? (Banks) Will the accidental killing of his pal in the war surface in Abilene? Will you even care some hour and a half later? Answers on a postcard please.

What few reviews of the film on line there is, sees it having a mixed reputation. The positive ones, you feel, have to come from Darin's adoring fans. But hey! I'm a fan of his music too, but watching him in this I kept thinking it would be so much better to hear him suddenly sing Mack the Knife instead. Same thing with Leslie Nielsen, who whilst desperately trying to make a go of playing a villain, just has one thinking of certain comedies down the line! Banks is pretty but pretty dull as an actress, the Technicolor is sub-standard (the Techniscope format exasperating this fact), and outdoor scenery is minimal since picture is 99% shot on the Universal sound stage.

There's a good fist fight in the mix and the final show down is well staged and shot in off kilter angles. But this is poor and only really for Darin purists and very undemanding Western fans. Perhaps the last word should rest with Darin himself, who with a smirk on his face once quipped that the film was better titled as Gunfight at Shit Creek! 4/10

Viewed via UK cable.

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