Cattleman’s Gun Watchlist

the-violent-men-1955The Violent Men – 1955 – Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson. Also starring: Oh, that was Brian Keith? Ha, wow.

Glenn Ford plays a reluctant warrior hero–reluctant probably because he’s really damned efficient at killing. Edward G. Robinson (ironically, since he is quite short) plays the Big Cattleman who wants More Land and whom everybody hates, but who is actually a somewhat honorable and kind of likeable guy in the end. Brian Keith plays his no-good brother. Barbara Stanwyck plays his wife, playing her noir-type femme fatale in a Western setting, and boy is she one bad customer to go up against. Richard Jaekel is the Rakish Punk Gunman who gets what’s coming to him in one of the most satisfying scenes of the movie.

So I actually quite liked Robinson’s character, partly because it’s clear that he’s somewhat of an ineffectual villain to begin with–he got stopped cold at his expansionistic efforts twelve years before and lost both his legs–and because he’s also, in his own way, an honest man. He’s a bully and he likes to throw his weight around, but he’ll respect the man who does stand up to him; and he also has no part in outright murders–that’s Stanwyck & Keith’s doing, who are also running rings around him. It’s the critical consensus that Robinson was miscast, but I think he brings the right amount of ham and pathos to the role. There’s a scene with his daughter after the nearly-fatal house fire that is genuinely heartwrenching.

Ford is also really damn good in the role, and the slow reveal of the real reason he’s so wary of getting pulled into a(nother) war is really well done. And the final duel-in-the-sun with Brian Keith–the soldier versus the gunslinger–is unlike any other I’ve seen.
That said, the ending was kind of abrupt and the peacenik daughter’s moralizing speeches were unconvincing.

Rated: I’m going to show it to my mother.

Stranger on the Run – 1967
This is a solid, if late-era, Western. A man comes into town…and gets into a load of trouble just by trying to find his friend’s sister and give her a hand. See, the railroad town is run by the railroad and the railroad runs the law as well. If you can call it “law”–it’s mostly just a collection of gunmen with nothing better to do. And bored gunmen tend to get into trouble. So their leader, in order to give them something to do, gives the stranger a running head start….
It’s okay, but not quite up to telling both of the stories it’s trying to. Dan Duryea’s old-timer who acts as mentor to the young fella and senior advisor to the leader, is the best role in the movie; none of the other roles are really bulked out enough to feel worth it. Meanwhile, Fonda’s character just flat-out isn’t all that interesting. Anne Baxter gives her all–and Anne Baxter has always been one of my favorite heroines, even with a ’60s hairdo and pancake makeup–but she, well, also isn’t all that compelling as a character. And the leader, who descends into killin’ madness and then barely manages to haul himself back out of it by the end, is neither charismatically portrayed nor compellingly written. So–there was an idea, and there was potential; it just all came to much less than ideally.

Rated: I’m not going to show it to my mother.

Live and Let Die – Waitaminute, this isn’t a western….
“Mister Leiter warned me there’d be times like this,” breathes the nubile young agent Bond is trying to seduce.
“Mmm?” murmurs Bond, seductively.
“When in doubt…cyanide pills.”
Also, the virgin priestess finding out that sex is in her future (Bond. James Bond. Hello?) and getting freaked out was kind of funny.
Otherwise, it’s a Bond flick.

Rated: This one’s got crocodiles in it, Mom….