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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gunman's Walk (1958)

A cattle rancher (Van Heflin) indulges his older son (Tab Hunter) with a sense of entitlement which allows him to be arrogant and set himself above the law. When the son is brought to trial for manslaughter, the rancher will stop at nothing to protect his son including paying off a "witness". But the son's contempt for his father holds no bounds and eventually the father must come to terms with his responsibility in the creation of this "bad seed". Nominally a western, the film is really about a parent who places no limits on his children and fails to realize that he's created a carbon copy of himself. There's a younger son (James Darren) who is in direct contrast to the older son but, of course, not as favored as the older son because he is less like his father. It may be Hunter's best screen performance but it's Heflin who commands the screen, a man out of time who finds out too late to rectify his mistakes. Strongly directed by Phil Karlson (HELL TO ETERNITY), this is a solid western robustly shot in CinemaScope by Charles Lawton (3:10 TO YUMA) with a nicely restrained score by George Duning (PICNIC). With Kathryn Grant as the love interest, Mickey Shaughnessy, Robert F. Simon, Edward Platt, Ray Teal and Dorothy Adams.

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