Friday, April 8, 2016

Silver Screen Influences: The Gunfighter

The Gunfighter may not be a perfect movie but it has so many great little parts and bits that I find myself re-watching and borrowing from it more than most. One of the more influential images I’ve used is the gag where we see a wannabe gunfighter get shot as he pulls his gun by someone off screen. When the camera cuts to the Jimmy Ringo (Peck), his revolver is out and smoking and his yet-to-be-finished whiskey is still in his hand. The reveal implies a faster-than-the-eye quick draw that when left up to the imagination seems superhuman. I use the same technique all throughout my first novel TEMPERANCE continue to utilize it to this day.

You really can’t go wrong with Gregory Peck and his character, Ringo, is both mysterious and menacing. The movie does a good job of implying a long history between Ringo and the town’s reformed marshal, played by Millard Mitchell, without giving too much detail. Although her presence is brief, Helen Westcott does a good job as Ringo’s estranged wife and helps to add depth and ground his character.

Like I said, The Gunfighter isn’t perfect but it sure is fun. The plot is simple and the reveals are somewhat predictable but the ending is great and the performances are spot-on. If you dig Gregory Peck you really can’t go wrong with The Gunfighter.

The Gunfighter (1950)
Director: Henry King
Writers: William Bowers, William Sellers
Stars: Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell

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