Sadlly, The Gunfighter is not about gunfighting. It's a about a gunfighter regretting the life he's led and losing everything he's ever wanted. And if that's not depressing enough, all the other characters are helping him regret, and helping him lose. It's what you might call an anti-gunfighter film.
The trouble is, the producers of this one were so intent on making a "grown up" western that they forgot what makes a western good. Despite the smoking six-guns depicted on the posters, this one has almost no shooting, dang little action, and not a lick of fun. Gregory Peck spends most of his screen time fretting and regretting in a near-empty saloon. And just to prove how grown up the film is, it delivers a totally predictable downbeat ending.
I ain't saying grown-up themes or emotions are bad, even in westerns, but they're a lot easier to take when balanced with a little raucous humor and gratuitous violence. If this is an "A" western, I'll take a "B" every time.
Punk Kid #1 challenges Gunfighter.
Punk Kid #1 bites the dust. (Yeah, this is the same scene, but the lobby cards for the rerelease were colorized differently than the originals.)
Punk Kid #1's brothers come looking for trouble.
In the next town, Gunfighter discovers an old pal packing a star.
An ex-father tries to bushwhack Gunfighter, believing G killed his son.
Ex-Father is invited to cool his heels.
Punk Kid #2 tries (and fails) to pick a fight.
Ex-girlfriend declines G's invitation to visit South America.
The downbeat denouement.
More Overlooked Films await you at SWEET FREEDOM.