Tuesday, September 8, 2009

At the Bijou with Gobe: Man with the Gun

Another fine film review from Dale Goble...

What we have here is Robert Mitchum and Jan Sterling supported by the usual suspects. Directed by Richard Wilson, with story and screenplay by N.B. Stone Jr. and Richard Wilson. The IMDb synopsis reads:
A stranger comes to town looking for his estranged wife. He finds her running the local girls. He also finds a town and sheriff afraid of their own shadow, scared of a landowner they never see who rules through his rowdy sidekicks. The stranger is a town tamer by trade, and he accepts a $500 commission to sort things out.

The estranged wife description spoils about fifteen minutes of suspense in the film, it's supposed to be a surprise, but not much of one. The storyline is routine, town hires gunman, stuff happens, the townspeople get cold feet, gunman refuses to be fired. The back story is another stock plot; the bitter exchanges with the estranged wife (Sterling) are routine, but, aw shucks, you just know they still love each other.
The difference in the film from all the others is in the method Clint Tollinger (Mitchum) uses in bringing justice to the town. I will let that part of the movie be a surprise for you. Karen Sharpe and John Lupton provide the clean cut young couple. Leo Gordon is the principle trouble maker, Claude Akins turns in a few minutes of grinning menace, Henry Hull, Emile Meyer, Ted de Corsi, and James Westerfield are the supporting players.

The synopsis says Nelly Bain (Jan Sterling) "runs the local girls," which is definitely not a contemporary description. The film is very careful to point out that Nellie's girls are dancers and nothing else. They work in the saloon but they live in Nelly's house and are chaperoned and there's no hanky panky and male visitors are restricted to the front porch. One of Nelly's "girls" is the uncredited 24 year-old Angie Dickenson in her third movie. Ms. Dickenson plays yet another saloon girl, with bestockinged legs displayed to advantage, practicing for RIO BRAVO four years later.

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