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3.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Study in Contrasting Acting Styles!, 1 Jun. 2014
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gun for a Coward (Great Western Collection) [DVD] (DVD)
A rare film as director by Abner Biberman, an actor turned acting coach, who once taught Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, a CV that he could have lunched out on for a while! The film itself is probably most interesting for the contrasting acting styles. Dean Stockwell's James Dean inspired histrionics are poles apart from Fred MacMurray's old school approach, whilst Jeffrey Hunter's performance as the middle brother appropriately falls somewhere between. It was interesting to read that James Dean was pencilled in for the Hunter role before his untimely death. No fault of his, but Dean had a lot to answer for with his many imitators. John Ericson was doing it in Sam Fuller's superb "Forty Guns" that very same year. I guess it was no surprise that Biberman's emphasis would be towards the acting!

Fred MacMurray, Dean Stockwell and Jeffrey Hunter are the three brothers sparring with each other in a western that follows familiar generic patterns. Hunter is the mummy's boy who has to prove himself to the others. MacMurray is the solid dependable older brother who leads from the front. Stockwell is the loose cannon in the brood who prefers to shoot first and ask questions later. Janice Rule plays MacMurray's girl whose heart belongs to Hunter, leading to inevitable problems. It won't be giving too much away to say that Hunter gets the opportunity to prove that he is not a coward.

The underlying main theme of a man proving himself against accusations of cowardice is not exactly a new one. Audie Murphy, who was anything but a coward in real life, had to do it in John Huston's film "The Red Badge of Courage"(51), and poor old Chuck Connors had to do it again and again in the TV series "Branded". No prizes for originality! The film is also overly talky with some scenes between Hunter and Rule that test ones patience! Too much talk and not enough of action, that oh so important western ingredient. I was pleased to see that underrated actor MacMurray acquitting himself well against the young guns. His dignified performance is perhaps the most convincing with the passage of time. His later westerns are worth catching! Also nice to see those stalwart western support acts Bob Steele and Chill Wills putting in another good shift at the oater coal face! This film is another example of the cycle of `youth' westerns that were popular at the time. This new release is part of 101 Films `Great Western Collection', who should be congratulated on making a few decent westerns available now on region 2. I recently bought the excellent "Horizons West" and can vouch for the quality of the product, so hopefully this release will be of a similar standard. I see they also have the excellent Audie Murphy film "Ride Clear of Diablo" in the collection. Let's hope for more where these came from! "Gun for a Coward" is pretty average fare, but certainly worth a look at for the western fan!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed., 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Gun for a Coward (Great Western Collection) [DVD] (DVD)
This 101 Films release is 4:3 letterbox, non anamorphic. Quality is OK, but less so if zoomed larger. It's probably the only version they could get.
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2.0 out of 5 stars gun for a coward dvd 101 films, 12 Sept. 2014
By 
K. Smith (surrey england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gun for a Coward (Great Western Collection) [DVD] (DVD)
gun for a coward release by 101 films a big disappointment , another 4.3 letterbox version let down.
why do dvd company's still release 4.3 letterbox versions. we want the best possible we can get from are tvs today.
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Gun for a Coward (Great Western Collection) [DVD]
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