GUNPOINT (director: Earl Bellamy; screenwriters: Mary & Willard Willingham; cinematographer: William Margulies; editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; music: Hans J. Salter; cast: Audie Murphy (Chad Lucas), Joan Staley (Uvalde / Bonnie Mitchell), Morgan Woodward (Drago), Warren Stevens (Nate Harlan), Edgar Buchanan (Bull), Denver Pyle (Cap), Nick Dennis (Nicos), David Macklin (Mark Emerson), Ford Rainey (Tom Emerson), John Hoyt (Mayor), Robert Pine (‘Mitch’ Mitchell), Roy Barcroft (Doctor), Royal Dano (Ode), Kelly Thordsen (Ab); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gordon Kay; Universal; 1966)
“Good action sequences executed by Audie Murphy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Earl Bellamy (“My Three Sons”/”The Lone Ranger”/”Tales of Wells Fargo”) assuredly directs this routine Western, that’s saddled with a substandard screenplay by Mary & Willard Willingham but makes up for that with good action sequences executed by Audie Murphy and superb location visuals filmed in lush Technicolor (shot in Utah).
Set in the 1880s, in the lawless Colorado Territory. When Chad Lucas (Audie Murphy), the laconic hard-nosed sheriff of the New Mexico territory border town of Lodgepole, Colorado, tries to prevent a train robbery, he’s sabotaged by his resentful deputy Cap (Denver Pyle), a former Confederate officer who feels slighted by the sheriff and feels he should be the sheriff. The train robbers hang out in town and kill the town’s leading citizen, bank president Tom Emerson (Ford Rainey) and kidnap the new dance hall singer from Texas, Uvalde (Joan Staley), when they hear a marshal is being sent for. The sheriff though suffering from blurry vision because of a bullet that grazed the back of his skull courtesy of the deranged Cap, is eager to retrieve the money and save the town from financial ruin. The sheriff gets a posse to chase the gang, led by the ruthless Drago (Morgan Woodward). Prosperous and arrogant saloon owner Nate Harlan (Warren Stevens), though an enemy of the sheriff, joins the posse, outside of town, on the trail, to get back his singer fiancee Uvalde. Why Nate doesn’t take along his hired guns from the saloon, went pass me. Nate soon discovers that Chad and Uvalde, born with the name Bonnie Mitchell, are from the same Texas hometown. When Uvalde chats in private with Chad, we learn they were lovers 8 years ago but the romance ended when Chad never returned from a cattle drive as promised and Bonnie hooked up with the gambler saloon keeper when he came to town.
Chad is unaware that Cap can’t be trusted, as he joins the posse. When Apaches attack, the posse fights them off but afterwards most leave when their ranks are depleted and they realize how dangerous things can get. The obsessed Chad treks on, with the few posse members left, even though he has no jurisdiction in New Mexico. Soon Uvalde is released by Drago as bait so the gang can escape from the Apaches, and she is rescued by the posse with indians chasing her. The few posse members left must survive a rock slide caused by the embittered Cap and a horse stampede caused by Drago. They push on with the determined sheriff leading the way, and on foot come across a settler’s campsite where three dangerous criminals, wild horse sellers, led by the imposing brains of the outfit , an eccentric sinister comical character, Bull (Edgar Buchanan). The trio connive to help the posse for a lion’s share of the train hold-up loot.
Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.
There are a few more shootouts and then there are only three left from the posse. Nate and the sheriff fight over the girl and the money recovered from the dead Drago. In the end, it’s winner take all and Chad is the winner, as Bonnie forgives him for ditching her when she learns the reason why and Chad gets the best of Nate in a gunfight.
REVIEWED ON 8/14/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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