At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

GUN THE MAN DOWN (Olive Films)

By • Jul 29th, 2016 •

Share This:

BluRay review by Roy Frumkes

This is a fascinating footnote to film history. It’s a small B&W western shot in 9 days by John Wayne’s company, and so many of his ‘regulars’ appear in it, expanding their roles as the years rolled on, that it seems like a trial run for their careers with the Duke.

James Arness was occasionally on the Batjac payroll, since Wayne needed someone his size or larger for fight scenes so that he wouldn’t be perceived as a bully by his fans. He recommended Arness for the lead in the TV series GUNSMOKE after it was offered to him, but he was gunshy about the small screen. Arness is a bit unpolished here, but learned quickly, and even here he has a natural appeal, which would serve him well over 20 TV seasons.

This is Andrew McLaglen’s debut as director. The son of Victor McLaglen, who provided solid support for Wayne in features such as SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and THE QUIET MAN, he would subsequently direct Wayne in such uninspired but competent assignments as CAHILL U.S. MARSHAL, CHISUM, THE UNDEFEATED, MCLINTOCK! and HELLFIGHTERS.

William Clothier, who produced decent visual results here considering the paltry shooting schedule, later DP’d Wayne’s 70mm mega-production of THE ALAMO, and Alfred Ybarra, who art directed these thread-bare sets, went on to recreate The Alamo for that ambitious independent film.

Also appearing in a supporting role is Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, who sky-rocketed to fame after an episode of “You Bet Your Life” in which he engaged in a brilliant verbal pas de deux with Groucho Marx.

GUN THE MAN DOWN is a revenge story. Rem Anderson (Arness) is shot during a hold-up and left for the posse to find by his buddies and his girlfriend Janice (Angie Dickinson – who the credits say makes her debut here. Not quite, but close enough). After serving time, he is released and tracks them down. A host of familiar supporting players fill the frame, with particular praise going to a very relaxed, believable Emile Meyer as the reticent sheriff. Don Megowan, who played the Gillman from the Black Lagoon at about this time, is staunch, as is the reliable Robert Wilke. The film may never be much more than pleasant, but the assembled team, and its place in film history, make it worthwhile viewing.

Tagged as:
Share This Article: Digg it | | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)