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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Westerns for Gun Control

posted by on March 12 at 16:11 PM

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.

Gunman's Walk

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.

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Teach a boy respect and honor and the proper way to use a gun then put it in his hand and you will have the best friend you could ever want.

Posted by alex | March 12, 2008 4:59 PM

I went to all four Karlson films at the GI and Gunman's Walk was the weakest, maybe because it's a western in color whereas the other three are set in a gritty black and white world.

Scandal Sheet blew me away. If you can get to the 9pm showing tomorrow, go to that over Gunman's Walk. It's a newspaper-noir with some great acting, great lines, and great shots.

Posted by stinkbug | March 12, 2008 9:31 PM

And Scandal Sheet stars John Derek, who is prettier than Bo ever was. Plus, as the Grand Illusion host, Spencer, pointed out, it features Donna Reed smoking--although, to my eyes, it looked like she wasn't enjoying her cigarettes very much. She was mostly either lighting them, or putting them out.

Posted by ratzkywatzky | March 13, 2008 10:22 AM

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