12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bleak and Desolate Classic
Henry King was a film director of great longevity. He directed his first film "Who Pays" in 1916 and made his last "Tender is the night" in 1962. That he survived in the film industry this long was testament to his durability. Sadly most of his films are very forgettable affairs indeed. Amongst his large body of work he made two startlingly good films which stand out like...
Published on 26 Feb 2009 by Bob Salter
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The makings of a better picture
This has the makings of an excellent western, but falls short. A potentially interesting though hardly original theme - ageing gunfighter senses his name will be next on the cemetery headstone and looks for a way out - receives no more than a workmanlike outing since the script fails to exploit the central premise of the end of an era for a hero/anti-hero...
Published on 5 May 2009 by Humpty Dumpty
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bleak and Desolate Classic,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)Henry King was a film director of great longevity. He directed his first film "Who Pays" in 1916 and made his last "Tender is the night" in 1962. That he survived in the film industry this long was testament to his durability. Sadly most of his films are very forgettable affairs indeed. Amongst his large body of work he made two startlingly good films which stand out like shining beacons from the rest. In 1949 he made "Twelve O Clock High" set in the second World War, which has long been used as an example of the pressures that leadership can bring. In 1950 he made "The Gunfighter". He also made one interesting film in 1958 called "The Bravados", a film that highlighted the perils of taking the law into your own hands. All these films starred Gregory Peck. My Mother would argue vociferously that "Love is a many Splendoured Thing" is an all time great. I dont suggest you watch it to find out!
"The Gunfighter" is a very bleak and desolate film. The sort of film that has storm clouds and birds of prey hovering over it. The stark black and white merely accentuates that. It is full of forboding and menace. Gregory Peck plays Jimmy Ringo a a gunslinger unable to escape his reputation and a target for every two bit gunny. At the start of the film he is forced to gun down a very youthful looking Richard Jaeckel who taunts him into action. But he has three brothers who will be after his blood, so he is forced to move on yet again. Ringo is aging and he is tired of this hunted existence. He stops in the town of Cayenne where he sees his wife who has changed her name and his young son with whom he was unable to enjoy any sort of relationship. You realise early on that there can be no happy conclusion and that Ringo will never escape his past. We head inexorably to a tragic finale.
"The Gunfighter" is one of the great Westerns. It bears great similarity to "Shane" made three years later which also features a gunfighter unable to escape his past. A great film but I will commit heresy by saying "The Gunfighter" is the greater work for its downright honesty. Peck is excellent in the role that John Wayne coveted. The musical score fits the tone perfectly. If you like happy endings dont bother watching this film. If you like a brilliantly crafted and thought provoking film that has aged extremely well, then this is the film for you!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gunfighter - One of THE great Westerns,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)Through the history of film there have been a few classic pairings of director and actor that have produced some out and out great films - Anthony Mann/James Stewart, John Huston/Humphrey Bogart, John Ford/John Wayne for example. I would humbly add Henry King/Gregory Peck to that list.
Though (as far as I know) they only made three films together, The Gunfighter, Twelve O'Clock High and Bravados, all three stand as some of the best work in the canon of either man, and all three were great movies that had that extra something that set them apart from the herd.
The Gunfighter is a tale of a hardened old west gunslinger, Jimmy Ringo. Once a hot headed young blood, he is older, wiser, and weary of the life he has chosen. Weary of being challenged in every town by some young squirt who wants to make a name for himself by beating the fastest gun in the West. After being forced to kill again in self defence he heads for a town where he hopes he can find salvation. Soon the entire town is on tenterhooks as his very presence in the saloon brings the entire community to a halt. What follows is a great tale as Ringo tries to keep out of trouble and make amends with his estranged wife.
Peck excels as Ringo, a man with a dubious past but now trying to do the right thing. He brings a gravity to the character, and turns him from being a mere archetypal gunslinger into a very real human. His quiet dignity as he faces all that he is trying to escape is the best part of the film.
Also of note is Millard Mitchell as an ex member of Ringo's gang, now sheriff of the town. He understands just how things are going to play out, and with out fear or favour does his best to keep the town in control and keep both Ringo and any ambitious young guns alive. The finale, where Ringo lays a heavy doom on one of the young squirts and the Sheriff sees it through is one of the best endings of any film. Mitchell plays it through with a commanding, authoritative yet understanding air.
This is a film that had a wide impact - I recall hearing (though this might be pure hog's wash) that Ringo Starr of Beatles fame took his name from Peck's character here. And Bob Dylan even wrote a song about his experience of going to see the movie (Brownsville Girl) in which he compared his own place in the music industry to that of Jimmy Ringo in the old west - THE man that anyone wanting to make a name for themselves has to shoot down.
This Studio Classics release from Fox is pretty good, with an excellent transfer and picture quality. I have been impressed with all the DVD's I have had from this range. Highly recommended purchase to those who like action and a bit of thought provoking. 5 stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liberal western with great depth,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)The name Nunnally Johnson on the credits as producer (also uncredited writer) should alert you to the fact that you're likely to get a literate film with left-ish leanings (not easy in 1950 Hollywood). In this era there's a lot of overlap between film noir and Westerns, and the theme of a man haunted by his past is common to both genres. The gunfighter trying to escape his past is not exactly an original idea, but what gives it depth is the portrait of the community which is disrupted by the arrival of the man on the run. Everyone down to the barber is deftly portrayed, and the conflict between the outsider and the settled community is the stronger for it. Most of the action is internal, in the mind of the man trying to change, trying to avoid conflict, but inevitably drawn into it. Gregory Peck gives a strong and subtle performance, and is matched by Millard Mitchell as his former gang colleague, now gone straight, who is trying to hold the town together and protect his friend at the same time.
Anyone looking for an action pic is likely to be disappointed, because the gunfights are few and over in a flash. But that doesn't make it any the less dramatic or tense. Unlike film noir, however, the film ends on a note of redemption. It is possible to break the cycle of violence, and end the corrupting myth-making of the gunflighter as hero - I told you Johnson was a leftie.
Not quite a classic, because it's badly let down by Helen Westcott as the love interest. Westcott manages to be both frumpy and a bad actress. Thankfully she's not on screen for long, but it still makes the central plot point of why the incredibly handsome Peck is in town rather incredible.
But if you can ignore this, you will be well rewarded.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I want you to see what it means to live like a big tough gun.,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)Aging gunfighter Jimmy Ringo is feeling his age, he is tired of looking over his shoulder and just wants to get to a nearby town to be reunited with his son. Before he sets off on his journey he is partaking in a drink at a saloon, a hot young tough guy picks a fight with him purely because of his reputation. Despite repeated attempts for someone to calm the youth down, Ringo is forced to kill the kid after being drawn upon first, all the patrons in the bar agree that Ringo had no choice in the matter, but he is advised to leave town quickly because the kid has three older brothers who will not care who drew first. Ringo sets off to find his son knowing that his past, along with the stricken kid's gunslinging brothers, are catching him up.
Downbeat and downright grim in texture, The Gunfighter is a very polished piece boasting a wonderful turn from its leading man. There are a number of highly thought of psychological westerns that focus on the tough nature of the west, rather than the fanciful guns a blazing actioners that one time dominated the genre, but few look and impact as hard as this one does. Gregory Peck is excellent as Ringo, perfectly grizzled and worn, but gigantic enough in stature to make him still a fearsome figure. That Peck is able to smoothly shift gears for a number of scenes is often taken for granted, be it showing tenderness with his boy in one scene or exuding stoic machismo when facing down bad guys in another, there's smart acting layers being revealed by the big man.
Elsewhere Millard Mitchell is terrific as Marshal Mark Strett and Karl Malden adds some lively characterisation as bartender Mac. Henry King does a great job of directing, as he keeps it tight and never lets the pace veer to a place the story doesn't call for. Arthur Miller's cinematography is tonally perfect in its high contrast starkness, framing the sadness of the main character to great effect, while William Bowers' story doesn't cop out at the end by painting the outcome with a sugar coated brush. Sombre and one of the forerunners of the psychological western genre splinter, this is one of the better films of its type on the market. 8.5/10
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gunfight at the Considerably More Than OK Corral,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)This doesn't seem to get into the pantheon of great westerns, oddly, and although it lacks the epic grandeur of a Shane, it is something of a masterpiece in its own right, able to stand alongside High Noon as a tight, claustrophobic and pacy narrative. It explores the way Peck's character Ringo is trapped in the myth of his own creation, the fastest gun alive. There will be no spoilers here but the ending is quietly brilliant in the way the cycle begins again. Unjustly overlooked, if you ask me.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ringo's top draw,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)gregory peck excells as jimmy ringo the fastest gun in the west who is desperate to leave behind his brutal past ,sadly he gets hounded and forced into gunfights wherever he goes.this is a very stylish film full of suspense and emotion the acting is top draw ,a great entertaining film well worth adding to your collection.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Gunfighter (1950) ... Gregory Peck ... Henry King (Director) (2003)",
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)20th Century Fox presents "THE GUNFIGHTER" (1950) (85 min/B&W) -- Starring Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell, Jean Parker, Karl Malden & Skip Homeier
Directed by Henry King
In this classic noir-influenced Western, Gregory Peck stars as aging gunslinger Jimmy Ringo, sick of killing but haunted by punks wanting to make a name for themselves by slaying a legend. After being warned by his old friend the Marshal Mark Strett (Millard Mitchell), Ringo decides to return East to see his estranged wife and the child he left behind. Knowing his death is an inevitability if he stays, Ringo leaves but before he can reach his destination his past catches up with him in the form of a young outlaw.
Oscar Nomination for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story (William Bowers & André De Toth!)
Special Footnote: -- Large painting on wall behind Gregory Peck's chair in bar room is "Custer's Last Fight", painted in 1884 by Cassily Adams and reproduced as a lithographic print by Otto Becker from Adams's original painting. These prints were distributed in 1896 to bars and taverns all over America by the Anheuser Busch Company.
The Gunfighter was often imitated by other Westerns, most notably by High Noon (1952) and its minimalist, morally difficult, and compelling tale made it one of the most important films produced in the 1950s.
1. Henry King (Director)
Date of birth: 24 January 1886 - Christiansburg, Virginia
Date of death: 29 June 1982 - Toluca Lake, California
2. Gregory Peck (aka: Eldred Gregory Peck)
Date of birth: 05 April 1916 - La Jolla, California
Date of death: 12 June 2003 - Los Angeles, California
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 4 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 75 min on DVD ~ 20th Century Fox ~ (11/04/2003)
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gunfighter,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD]  (DVD)Great classic western. A worthy addition to anyone who loves western movies. One to view many times. Delivered very quickly from the supplier. A good price to. One of Gregory Pecks better films
4.0 out of 5 stars An Impressive Western,
This review is from: The Gunfighter [DVD] (DVD)Gregory Peck does a very good performance as gunfighter Johnny Ringo in this watchable impressive dark western which was directed by Henry King who also directed Peck in "Twelve o clock high" and "The Bravados" which are also worth watching. The supporting cast are also good including Jean Parker as Gregory Peck's lover and Millard Mitchell as the sympathetic marshal. Their are also early roles from Karl Malden, Skip Homeier and Richard Jaeckel and the movie was nominated for an oscar for best writing. The character Johnny Ringo has been in a few movies such as "Gunfight at the ok Corral" he was played by John Ireland and in "Tombstone" he was played by Michael Biehn and in both of these films he was portrayed as a nasty villain. But in "The gunfighter" Henry King makes Johnny Ringo look like a softer man which he wants to change his lifestyle by reuniting with his lover and son. If you haven't seen this impressive western then it's well worth buying on dvd and I guarentee that you will enjoy it.
5.0 out of 5 stars WESTERN CLASSICS,
This review is from: Fox Classic Western Collection [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)These are movies that I have not seen in a while and enjoyed watching them again. Movies today just don't compare to the old classics and the actors that starred in them.
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The Gunfighter [DVD] by Henry King (DVD - 2006)