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GUNFIGHTERS (aka: THE ASSASSIN) (director: George Waggner; screenwriters: Alan Le May/from the Zane Grey novel “Twin Sombreros”; cinematographer: Fred H. Jackman Jr.; editor: Harvey Manger; music: Rudy Schrager; cast: Randolph Scott (Brazos Kane), Barbara Britton (Bess Banner), Bruce Cabot (Bard Mackey), Charley Grapewin (Rancher Inskip), Steven Geray (Jose aka Uncle Joe), Forrest Tucker (Ben Orcutt), Charles Kemper (Sheriff Kiscaden), Grant Withers (Deputy Bill Yount), John Miles (Johnny O’Neil), Griff Barnett (Mr. Banner), Dorothy Hart (Jane Banner); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Joe Brown; Columbia Pictures; 1947)
“There must be at least a hundred or so B Westerns with the same stale theme.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

George Waggner (“The Wolf Man”/”The Fighting Kentuckian”/”Guilty Trails”) directs this routine and rather ugly told Western about a gunslinger who shoots his friend when challenged to a gun duel and then hangs up his guns for good to work as a ranch hand at his friend’s small spread. There must be at least a hundred or so B Westerns with the same stale theme, and this one is little below average. It leaves the viewer with a rotten and bogus message that mankind is inherently evil and guns are needed to carry out one’s business, like it or not. It’s based on the Zane Grey novel “Twin Sombreros” and the shaky screenplay is by Alan Le May. The commercial success of this film led to the business partnership of Randolph Scott with producer Harry Joe Brown, as they formed their own production company.

Brazos Kane (Randolph Scott) is the tight-lipped gunfighter who arrives without guns to his old friend Bob Tyrell’s ranch, only to find him shot dead by a gang of five. When he reports the murder to the neighboring big-spread ranch, cattle baron Mr. Banner (Griff Barnett) treats him as an intruder and he’s arrested by the crooked deputy Bill Yount (Grant Withers). While he’s taken to town the posse stops off on a lonely stretch of land to hang him, but he’s saved by old-timer rancher Inskip (Charley Grapewin); he’s Bob’s friend, who somehow found the spot of the hanging after Brazos got word to him. Within seconds you know that Banner was responsible for the killing, and it was carried out by his ruthless foreman Bard Mackey (Bruce Cabot). Banner has two eligible pretty daughters, the good one Jane (Dorothy Hart) and the bad one Bess (Barbara Britton). Bess is in love with the baddie Bard, and knows and doesn’t seem to mind her dad built his empire by rustling and taking over the homesteads by force of the small ranchers within a 100-mile radius. The do-nothing sheriff, Kiscaden (Charles Kemper), is also on Banner’s payroll. As expected, Brazos will eventually wear his six guns to avenge the death of his friend.

It was beautifully photographed in Cinecolor, a process that did wonders with reds and blues but left out yellows and greens.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”