THE SHEEPMAN (STRANGER WITH A GUN)
(director/writer: George Marshall; screenwriters: story by Jamest Edward Grant/William Bowers/William Roberts; cinematographer: Robert Bronner; editor: Ralph Winters; music: Jeff Alexander; cast: Glenn Ford (Jason Sweet), Shirley MacLaine (Dell Payton), Leslie Nielsen (Stephen Bedford/Johnny Bledsoe), Slim Pickens (Marshal), Edgar Buchanan (Milt Masters), Mickey Shaugnessy (Jumbo), Pernell Roberts (Choctaw), Willis Bouchey (Frank Payton), Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (Angelo), Buzz Henry (Red); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edmund Grainger; MGM; 1958)
“The always reliable Glenn Ford is perfect for the part, but the film is stolen by the shifty W.C. Fields windbag misanthropic comic character portrayal by Edgar Buchanan.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
George Marshall(“Destry Rides Again”/”You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man”/”The Sad Sack”) ably directs this modest amiable western comedy, that has a few good fight sequences and a splendid screenplay from William Bowers and the story’s writer Jamest Edward Grant. The always reliable Glenn Ford is perfect for the part, but the film is stolen by the shifty W.C. Fields windbag misanthropic comic character portrayal by Edgar Buchanan.
Tough sheep farmer, Jason Sweet (Glenn Ford), moves into serene Powder Valley, in the middle of cattle country, and lets the town know he won’t be scared out of town as he orders a glass of milk at the saloon and then shows off his gun skills. The local cattle baron is someone who calls himself Colonel Stephen Bedford (Leslie Nielsen), formerly a Texas gunslinger named Johnny Bledsoe and an old acquaintance of the reformed gunslinger Jason. Johnny for the last 6 years has gone straight and tells Jason to leave town or else, and when he doesn’t he uses his oafish henchman Jumbo (Mickey Shaugnessy) to stop the sheep from being delivered by train. But Jason outsmarts the cattle gang, and the sheep are back on his farm. Meanwhile Jason hires the disreputable livery stable owner, Milt (Edgar Buchanan), to be his eyes and ears who will tell him what his rival is up to and he also sets out to steal Johnny’s feisty girl, Dell (Shirley MacLaine).
In the back story we learn that Jason came to Powder Valley to hunt down the outlaw Choctaw (Pernell Roberts), who during a bank robbery shot and killed his fiancée. During a final showdown, Johnny hires Choctaw to kill Jason. When Choctaw is shot on Main Street, Jason goes after the snake-like Johnny.
The easy-going conventional western was always entertaining and was enjoyable despite being so predictable.
REVIEWED ON 5/12/2014 GRADE: B