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Saturday, August 13, 2011

HOUR OF THE GUN (1967)

Ten years after GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, John Sturges made the mistake of double-dipping with this sleepy follow up. The gimmick is that the film starts at that famous shootout, then we tag along as Wyatt Earp (a dyspeptic James Garner) and tubercular pal ‘Doc’ Holliday (Jason Robards) go after what’s left of the devious Clanton gang (Robert Ryan & Co.). And these Clanton guys don’t fight fair, if they can’t shoot you in the back they’re apt to run for political office or drag you into court. No wonder Wyatt shoots first and asks questions later. The talent line up sounds promising: script by Edward Anhalt, lensing from Lucien Ballard, a Jerry Goldsmith score; and there are good supporting players like William Windom & William Schallert alongside rising unknowns like Monte Markham, Frank Converse & even a babyfaced Jon Voight, but the thing never takes off. Robards shuffles off with the remains, and it’s slim pickin’s.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT/SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: John Ford’s MY DARLING CLEMENTINE/’48 is the classic O.K. Corral pic, but adventurous types ought to check out the restored edition of CHEYENNE AUTUMN/’64 for James Stewart’s corrupt middle-aged lawman; or even Blake Edwards’ much-maligned SUNSET/’88, an uneven pic (to put it nicely!), but with James Garner bringing something special to his second go at Wyatt.

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