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Gunman´s Walk (Region 2)
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Spain released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), Spanish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Subtitles ), Portuguese ( Subtitles ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Black & White, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Rancher Lee Hackett is one of the old breed, used to making his own laws and settling things with a gun. He has tried to make his two sons in his own image, and with the elder he has more than succeeded, to the extent that he is accused of murdering a half-breed. But his younger son is different, eschewing the old rules and even becoming drawn to the sister of the murdered man. Lee starts to find that his way of doing things is no longer working. ...Gunman's Walk ( Gun man's Walk )
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The film uses the Cain and Abel, good brother bad brother theme much used in films. Most famously perhaps in Elia Kazan's influential "East of Eden"(55) starring a precocious James Dean. In westerns I recall the equally forgotten "Vengeance Valley"(51) with Burt Lancaster and the enjoyable "Night Passage"(57), with James Stewart and Audie Murphy as unlikely brothers. In this film Tab Hunter is bad brother and James Darren is good brother. Van Heflin is the father who favours his errant son. The question is how long can he cover favourite sons ever increasing miscellany of misdemeanors. A tale as old as time, most certainly! As old as the bibles book of Genesis in fact! Predictable perhaps! But despite this director Phil Karlson, not exactly a directorial household name, manages to breathe new vigour into it. He is helped by a decent screenplay from one of the greats of western screen writing Frank Nugent, who did such heady stuff as John Ford's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon"(49) and "The Searchers"(56). The crisp and vibrant Technicolor location photography is also very eye catching. The story managed to engage me and I was genuinely interested to see how it would all end.
I was pleased to see those stalwarts Ray Teal and the likeable Mickey Shaughnessy padding out the support cast. Also interesting to see the sympathetic way in which the native Americans were treated. Aside from the odd politically incorrect phrase of the period they got a pretty good shake! Sit and watch "Bhowani Junction" if you want to see a more overt example of the political incorrectness rife at that time! Nice to see we have moved on! One can't help but wonder if the film would have been better remembered if the likes of Burt Lancaster or James Dean had used their considerable screen presence to illuminate proceedings. As it is it remains a forgotten film in a sadly rather forgotten genre. But to those diehards like myself this is an enjoyable enough offering that passes the time pleasantly.
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...Damn Yankees fun... and They Came to Cordura gave a hint of his acting talent... But Gunman's Walk... well... his handlers must have been at the casino or something... This is definitely Hunter's top performance.
...Very much cast against type... His character is handsome and intelligent... fit and skilled... and largely a sociopath... His few fits and seizures of decency... such as addressing his brother's concern for his injury... are almost awkward... as if rusty...
...He has a massive chip on his shoulder... thinking that he needs to be better than his father (Van Heflin) a legend of the frontier... and he resents the fact that he will never do it... The film starts at a time when Hunter's character starting to act out in very dangerous ways... refusing to see the dangers... or accept the consequences...
A good plot...that deals with complex issues... Not your average "Blazing Guns West of the Pecos" film. Fine supporting cast. Van Heflin as the father who knows better but threatens a severely wounded man if he dares testify against his son... But unlike his son, Heflin knows where the final line is... (Heflin and Hunter had worked together in late '54 on Battle Cry)
Hunter must have relished his chance to utterly abandon the squeeky clean image for at least one film. Other actors in his shoes might have given an over the top performance... but Hunter knew that his character suffering from years of self-doubt and resentment coming to the surface all at once... Not an evil man... but a man doing bad things because his moral compass stuck in the wrong position.
It is said that in 1948... John Ford saw John Wayne in Red River and said... "I didn't know that big lug could really act..." and Wayne's career headed towards many better films. Elvis wanted to be the white racist in The Defiant Ones... might have opened a career in vastly better films... but "Colonel Parker" (his handler) flat out said no... Parker was good at making money... but nothing else...
Unlike Elvis... Tab Hunter had a chance to show what he could do... But for all of its quality... this was a relatively small Western... and Hunter already firmly typecast. This film at least shows that he was a real actor...
Way past time for a quality DVD...
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