Film Westerns for Gun Control
posted by March 12 at 16:11 PMon
In my Suggests for Grand Illusion’s Phil Karlson series last week, I tried to guide you to movies with nice, squarish aspect ratios—the image ends up looking bigger on that postage-stamp screen. Of course, I missed both of those films and ended up at one of this week’s entries, a Cinemascope Western (wide image, teeny cowboys) called Gunman’s Walk. I recommend it nonetheless—and there are two more screenings, tonight and tomorrow at 7 pm.
Hot off his role as Dan Evans in the original 3:10 to Yuma, Van Heflin plays a man’s man’s man named Lee Hackett, living on an enormous ranch just outside of in a town he helped found. He has two sons: Ed (played the very Aryan-looking Tab “The Sigh Guy” Hunter), who’s basically a sociopath, and Davy (James Darren, also a former teen idol), who’s sensitive and effeminate—though, of course, he’s in love with a half-Indian girl. After Ed is implicated in the death of the girl’s brother, the town begins to close ranks, defending Lee’s wayward progeny. But Ed adores his pistol, and he doesn’t care for being locked up.
The direction is nothing fancy, but the story and acting are fantastic. I love revisionist Westerns, and they don’t come much more revisionist than Gunman’s Walk, with its line on gun control (“Put a gun in a boy’s hands, and he’ll sooner or later use it”) and fondness for girly men and race-blind justice.
Phil Karlson’s 1952 noir Scandal Sheet, set in a tabloid newsroom, follows at 9 pm. It sounds pretty great.