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Author Topic: The Gunfighter (1950)  (Read 9742 times)
stanton
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« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2008, 08:52:43 AM »

As I said above full screen.

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« Reply #16 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.

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« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2008, 04:28:27 PM »

I take it you don't like Man Who Shot Liberty Valance then? Undecided

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« Reply #18 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

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« Reply #19 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.

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« Reply #20 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?

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« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2010, 01:14:52 PM »

It was on AMC a couple days ago. I assume it will play again sometime soon.

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« Reply #22 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.

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« Reply #23 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.

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« Reply #24 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.  Grin)

And Gregory Peck is wonderful as always.

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« Reply #25 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 Grin but I thought High Noon was very overrated.

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« Reply #26 on: February 11, 2011, 03:58:43 PM »

I really need to rewatch this flick.

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« Reply #27 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

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« Reply #28 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. Wink

--------
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  Wink

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.

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« Reply #29 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

« Last Edit: December 22, 2014, 02:48:52 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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