Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day of the Evil Gun (1968)

Director: Jerry Thorpe

Writers: Charles Marquis Warren, Eric Bercovici

Composer: Jeff Alexander

Starring: Glenn Ford, Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, John Anderson, Paul Fix, Nico Minardos, Harry Dean Stanton, Pilar Pellicer, Parley Baer, Royal Dano, Ross Elliott, Barbara Babcock, James Griffith

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They had one enemy even more deadly than the Apaches... each other!

Plot: A woman and two children are kidnapped by Apaches. The husband of the captured woman enlists the help of his neighbor to find the Apaches that seized his family; not knowing his neighbor has unknown reasons of his own for helping him.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

There's a good deal to like in this picture.  For starters, Glenn Ford brings some serious charisma and he does it seemingly without any effort.  Lorn (Ford) is a changed man by the time the movie begins.  Owen (Kennedy) has just started.  Lorn has given up his gunfighting ways and he's come back after several years to do the right thing and take care of his family and be the loving husband and father he should've been.  Owen's been that man to Lorn's wife and child.  We've got two men at odds and they've both got to prove their worth.  Naturally, only one will prevail.  What should've been a more serious look at Lorn proving himself and Owen going down the dark path that will turn him into a monster ends up a mixed bag.  Ford is great and Lorn's written well enough that it's plain to see.  Owen, though, doesn't get quite fleshed out in his gradual transition from good to bad.  They show us on screen but the transition isn't as smooth as it should've been.  That's a minor gripe.  There is a great sequence when the pair come across Capt. Addis (Anderson) and his men (Confederate soldiers masquerading as Union soldiers).  Anderson, as always, is outstanding and it's great seeing a young HD Stanton.  This was my favorite part of the picture with Lorn & Owen trying to get out of this messed up situation.  For as great as that sequence was, the rescue of Lorn's family from the Indians by Lorn and Owen is very weak.  It's OK if you check your brains at the door.  And then there's the gunfight in the street that mirrors the opening of the picture.  Maybe Kennedy didn't sell it as well as he could and that could be the difference from Owen going down that path and you can easily believe his transition.  It's a flawed film but there are enough positives here to justify watching it.  It's not boring, but the problems that mar it keep it from being a memorable, great Western.  Oh, yeah, does the writer, Charles Marquis Warren sound familiar?  Tarantino named Samuel Jackson's character after him in THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015).  Warren was the co-creator of GUNSMOKE.

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