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HEAVEN WITH A GUN (director: Lee H Katzin; screenwriter: Richard Carr; cinematographer: Fred Koenekamp; editor: Dann Cahn; music: Johnny Mandel; cast: Glenn Ford (Jim Killian/Pastor Jim), Carolyn Jones (Madge McCloud (saloon owner)), Barbara Hershey (Leloopa (Indian girl)), John Anderson (Asa Beck (cattleman)), David Carradine (Coke Beck (Asa’s son)), J.D. Cannon (Mace (Beck’s gunman)), Noah Beery, Jr. (Garvey (Beck Ranch ramrod)), Harry Townes (Gus Sampson (storekeeper)), William Bryant (Bart Paterson (cattleman)), Virginia Gregg (Mrs. Patterson), Ed Bakey (Scotty Andrews); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Frank & Maurice King; MGM; 1969)

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A routine Western produced by the King Brothers, known for hiring blacklisted writers and making crude pics. Director Lee H Katzin(“Le Mans”/”What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?”/”World Goes Wild”) and writer Richard Carr load the genre pic with cliches and violent sequences. The unpleasant Western features a lynching, torture with shears, a rape, arson, a street brawl and your usual saloon gun fights. The numerous cliches include a world-weary gunfighter wanting to reform and to save the world, your typical western fight between cattlemen and sheepherders, an aging saloon keeper and whorehouse madam with a heart of gold (Carolyn Jones) longing for her unavailable old gunfighter friend and a pretty half-caste Indian (Barbara Hershey) finding it difficult to understand the white world. It preaches an awkward social conscience message that peace can be found without guns. The trouble is the pic is clumsily executed and is leaden, so everything seems absurd and hardly believable.

Ex-gunfighter and felon Jim Killian (Glenn Ford) is a reformed middle-aged man and comes to Vinegaroon, New Mexico, to open the lawless town’s first church, as he converts a livery stable. Then Jim tries to stop the ruthless and ambitious cattle baron Asa Beck (John Anderson) and his loose-cannon son Coke (David Carradine) from fighting with the sheep herders, who are led by the Mormon Mr. Murdoch (James Griffith). After much violence, Jim, at the town’s only lake to water the animals, gets everybody but Asa into believing that there could be harmony between both warring parties.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”