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STRANGER WORE A GUN, THE(director: André De Toth; screenwriters: Kenneth Gamet/based on “Yankee Gold” by John M. Cunningham; cinematographer: Lester H. White; editor: Gene Havlick/James Sweeney; cast: Randolph Scott (Jeff Travis), Claire Trevor (Josie Sullivan), Joan Weldon (Shelby Conroy), George Macready (Jules Mourret), Alfonso Bedoya (Degas), Lee Marvin (Dan Kurth), Ernest Borgnine (Bull Slager), Pierre Watkin (Jason Conroy), Joseph Vitale (Shorty); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Joe Brown; Columbia; 1953)
“Though the visuals in this 3-D film have depth, the story itself remains shallow and clichéd.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

André De Toth’s (“Last of the Comanches”/”Man in the Saddle”/”Crime Wave”) second venture into 3-D after earlier that same year directing the most noteworthy of all the “depthy” films– “House of Wax.” It’s another Quantrill Raider western, but is saddled with a quirkiness that still can’t hide its B-film mediocrity. It’s based on “Yankee Gold” by John M. Cunningham and written by Kenneth Gamet.

Randolph Scott is Jeff Travis, the former Quantrill spy leaving in disgust over the bloodshed after the deadly raid on Lawrence, Kansas (some 150 people were brutally murdered and the town was set afire). He flees to Prescott, Arizona Territory, following the advice of his floozy, saloon girlfriend, a gambler with a heart of gold, Josie (Claire Trevor), and tries to go straight; but his reputation precedes him and he hooks up with ex-raider Jules Mourret (George Macready) and his vicious gang and his mean-spirited henchmen Dan (Lee Marvin) and Bull (Ernest Borgnine). The gang has been unable to rob the local stage line, and Travis gets hired as the stagecoach shotgun rider and begins his spy work as the gang’s insider man. During the robbery of a gold shipment, Travis gets turned off when the gang needlessly kills the amiable stagecoach driver and turns against them. Meanwhile, Josie arrives in town but feels threatened that local girl Shelby Conroy (Joan Weldon), the daughter of stage-line operator Jason Conroy (Pierre Watkin), has captured her man’s love interest. For Jules, things get complicated with the arrival of his rival, for the pot of gold, the dangerous Mexican bandit Degas (Alfonso Bedoya) and the brutish Shorty (Joseph Vitale).

Even though Travis is willing to make a dishonest buck, he balks at murder and we are led to believe his decent side takes over and he now acts to set things right again. The weak story is basically an excuse for all the set-piece action sequences to take place and Scott to go from being a villain to his usual western movie heroic good-guy self.

Though the visuals in this 3-D film have depth, the story itself remains shallow and clichéd.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”