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SHOOT OUT (director: Henry Hathaway; screenwriters: from the novel The Lone Cowboy by Will James/Marguerite Roberts; cinematographer:Earl Rath; editor: Archie Marshek; music: Dave Grusin; cast: Gregory Peck (Clay Lomax), Dawn Lyn (Decky), Susan Tyrrell (Alma), Jeff Corey (Trooper), Robert F. Lyons (Bobby Jay), Pepe Serna (Pepe), John Chandler (Skeeter), James Gregory (Sam Foley), Rita Gam (Emma), Pat Quinn (Juliana), Paul Fix (Brakeman); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Hal B. Wallis ; Universal; 1971)
“A miscast Gregory Peck is too nice of a guy to be in a revenge western that demands anything but a tender-hearted portrayal.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A miscast Gregory Peck is too nice of a guy to be in a revenge western that demands anything but a tender-hearted portrayal. Under the leisurely direction of Henry Hathaway (“North to Alaska”/”True Grit”) the story line has no punch. It’s based on the novel The Lone Cowboy by Will James and written by Marguerite Roberts (“True Grit”).

After eight years in prison aging bank robber Clay Lomax (Gregory Peck) returns to his hometown and while visiting with the local wheelchair-bound barkeep Trooper (Jeff Corey) tries to get info where his double-crossing partner Sam Foley (James Gregory) is hiding out. Clay’s revenge takes a back seat for the moment as a trio of nasty young punks, Bobby Jay (Robert F. Lyons), Pepe (Pepe Serna) and Skeeter (John Chandler), rough up the dumb local whore Alma (Susan Tyrrell) and take her along with them when the psycho leader of the gang Bobby Jay kills Trooper because he told them to stop picking on Alma. Before Trooper dies he lets on that Foley is at Gun Hill. In the meantime a six-year-old waif named Decky (Dawn Lyn) is delivered to him by the railroad brakeman (Paul Fix) and there’s a note pinned to her saying her dead mommy, an old friend of Clay’s, wants him to take care of her (presumably he’s her father, except he would have been in prison). When Clay can’t get anyone in town to care for the feisty little girl, he takes her with him on his revenge mission. On the trail they are followed by the gang of three, and when Clay overcomes them he finds out Foley hired them to keep an eye on him.

It’s all routine and formulaic, but made weaker by Hathaway’s uninspired direction and Peck’s random acts of kindness and lack of a killer instinct. It flatly leads to the expected shootout, that comes too late to save this film from the doldrums. REVIEWED ON 6/21/2006 GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”