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HIRED GUN, THE (director: Ray Nazarro; screenwriters: story by Buckley Angell/Buckley Angell/David Lang; cinematographer: Harold J. Marzorati; editor: Frank Santillo; music: Albert Glasser; cast: Rory Calhoun (Gil McCord), Anne Francis (Ellen Beldon), Vince Edwards (Kell Beldon), John Litel (Mace Beldon), Chuck Connors (Judd Farrow), Robert Burton (Nathan Conroy), Salvador Baguez (Ortega), Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams (Kirby); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Rory Calhoun/Victor M. Orsatti; MGM; 1957)
“Flatly directed and acted as if it were for a TV show.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran B film western director Ray Nazarro’s (“The Domino Kid”) black-and-white traditional oater is flatly directed and acted as if it were for a TV show. It’s based on the story by Buckley Angell. This cheapie production was produced by Rory Calhoun’s own company which was formed after he broke from Universal. It seems shortly before the film was released, Confidential magazine, the scandal tabloid, had run a story about Rory’s record as a juvenile delinquent. Its source of information was rumored to be Universal, which gave up lesser star Rory as a trade-off to protect a juicy story about superstar Rock Hudson that the magazine was planning to run. Rory admitted it was true and his career resumed uninterrupted.

Anne Francis plays Ellen Beldon, the Texas gal who has been convicted in a rigged trial of killing her husband Cliff. On the day she’s to be hanged in the small Texas town, Judd Farrow (Chuck Connors) poses as a preacher and with a gun hid in his Bible frees Ellen. They elude the posse on their horse and buggy carriage, and the escape becomes more elaborately disclosed when Ellen’s wealthy New Mexico rancher Uncle Nathan Conroy (Robert Burton), the one who planned the escape, meets them at a mountain pass and takes her back to his ranch while the posse goes after the decoys moving in another direction. New Mexico refuses to extradite Ellen because they believe the Texas trial was a miscarriage of justice. Ellen’s wealthy angry father-in-law Mace Beldon (John Litel) wants justice and hires professional gunslinger Gil McCord (Rory Calhoun) for $5,000 to bring back Ellen to Texas. To make it legal, Gil’s deputized. Gil gets hired for the busy roundup as a ranchhand on Conway’s ranch and snatches Ellen. On the way back, he believes her story of innocence and becomes convinced that it was Cliff’s brother Kell (Vince Edwards) who killed his step-brother over their inheritance and framed Ellen by having the drunken horse thief Kirby lie at the trial.

It predictably works out as expected as Rory goes about proving Anne’s innocence by going after the guilty culprits. It’s only unusual because a woman is sentenced to be hanged, otherwise the story is strictly routine. After the film Rory appeared in the successful TV show The Texans, while Chuck Connors became TV’s The Rifleman, and Anne Francis also made her mark on TV with frequent appearances on various shows.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”