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Gun for a Coward

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Dean Stockwell, Fred MacMurray, Jeffrey Hunter, Janice Rule, Chill Wills
  • Directors: Abner Biberman
  • Producers: Gun for a Coward
  • Format: Import, PAL, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Run Time: 85.00 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002SWT1D0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 287,875 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Spain released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Biographies, Filmographies, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Having inherited a huge cattle ranch from his late father, Will Keough (Fred MacMurray) wants nothing more than to tend to his work and live in peace, but this is made impossible by the tense situation in his own household. Will's two younger brothers, Bless (Jeffrey Hunter) and Hade (Dean Stockwell), are as different as night and day: Convinced that he was responsible for the death of his father, Bless refuses to use a gun, and is thus branded a coward; conversely, Hade is wild and reckless, literally an accident waiting to happen. Exacerbating the situation is the brothers' grim and merciless mother (Josephine Hutchinson), who has instilled most of Bless' guilt feelings, and Will's sweetheart Aud Niven (Janice Rule), who finds herself drawn to the sensitive Bless. Ultimately, there will have to be a showdown...but who among the Keogh siblings will survive? ...Gun for a Coward

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Gun for a Coward is directed by Abner Biberman and written by R. Wright Campbell. It stars Fred MacMurray, Jeffrey Hunter, Janice Rule, Chill Wills, Dean Stockwell and Josephine Hutchinson. Out of Universal International Pictures, film is a CinemaScope production in Eastman Color, with photography by George Robinson and music by Joseph Gershenson.

Three brothers must contend with big personal differences whilst also trying to see off a band of cattle rustlers who are pillaging from their herd.

But you don't cover me with your shadow.

So many good things involved with this production it feels unfair to label it as dull, but dull is ultimately how it ends up being after film has run its course. The cast assembled is a strong one, the dialogue is sharp and well written, and the location photography out of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is most pleasing. Prolific Western scorer Gershenson also produces a highly effective score, very reflective of the characters' stuttering emotions. But with a running time of almost 90 minutes the makers have over stretched the family feud premise by having too many periods of story inactivity. Biggest problem of all is that the coward of the title, Bless' (Hunter) back story is never fully formed, adding little snippets here and there doesn't do it justice. For instance: it's only late in the day that we find his reputation is tarnished outside of his family, the whole damn town are down on him. A better director than jobber for hire Biberman would surely have got more from this tortured character axis.

Stockwell and Hunter are not the best of actors all told, but they fit right into the roles of two brothers made of different stuff.
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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!
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