"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fastest Gun Alive (MGM, 1956)

 
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Jeff
 
 

6 comments:

  1. I managed to see this again a few nights ago after waiting what must be 50 years. It made a big impression on me as a child. Somebody posted it on YouTube. The impression I got was of a lot of fine actors largely making up for all the silly things they are required to say in the name of the plot. Jeanne Crain has a terrible time but in my opinion for what it's worth the three bad guys are very good and largely carry the picture. It's about something else, isn't it? It could be about a feeling of losing your manhood in monogamy. Maybe even impotence. Jeanne Crain is lovely but she can't face up to the fact that poor ol' Glen can only take being a married store keeper for so long before he has to get it out. And Broderick Crawford only got obsessed with cutting down all the other fastest guns after his wife left him. And the ending: the only way to live happily ever after married is pretend you're dead.

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    1. Sigmund Freud would have enjoyed your comments, I reckon. I just see this as a weak version of the 'quick on the draw' myth and a second-rate black & white B-movie, poorly written and directed. But there you go.
      Jeff

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    2. I'm going to pursue this a bit for the fun of it but I think I might actually be on to something. It could be about repressed homosexuality. We're told Broderick went bonkers after his wife left him but being a fast gun couldn't be something he taught himself to get revenge on the world. Glen tells us that a man has to practice hours a day year in year out. So it's something Glen and Brod have in common and Brod's wife left him because of it. Glen's own wife is only just hanging on and obviously being the gorgeous Jeanne Crain isn't enough for Glen. The most relaxed and well-adjusted couple are actually Noah Beery and John Dehner. Their interplay with Broderick Crawford is some of the most interesting and convincing stuff in the picture. Another picture with a really weird undercurrent is Terror In A Texas Town. I'm surprised you haven't done that one, Jeff. That stuff from the bad guy about meeting a man who wasn't afraid to die is completely unconvincing especially as the man he has just killed WAS obviously afraid and regretting it deeply. There's something really odd going on that's got nothing to do with the story.

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    3. I think there was an unspoken homosexual agenda to many Westerns, the first coming to mind being Warlock. It has been historically essentially a male genre (less so now) and friendship between men was a common theme. Natural, perhaps, therefore, that love would feature. Of course in the 50s you couldn't explicitly show that: it's all done with subtle allusions.
      Jeff

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  2. I think you are somewhat unfait with this film which handles quite a bunch of typically western themes. Yes it could have been much better with a better pace, a more credible villain than Broderick Crawford and without Russ Tamblyn, but the photography composition, the magnificent and very modern John Dehner's play and the treatment of the classic avantvla lettre highnoonesque opposition between a reluctant, here coward, hero despite of himself and a community brings some positive aspects in my opinion. And it tells a lot about the US cult of the gun, the special relationship between the Americans and the firearms, and its religious dimension. It is not a coincidence if Glen is bringing his revolver as an offering then sacrifice to his methodists fellow citizens and if there is half an hour or so spent inside the church. Probably it has not really changed a lot considering the number of churches everywhere in the country and the gun sales nowadays... So after the homosexual perspective what do you think of the metaphysical one !? JM

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  3. I think you are somewhat unfair with this film handling quite a bunch of typically western themes. Yes it could have been much better with a better pace, a more credible villain than Broderick Crawford and without Russ Tamblyn's dance, but the photography composition, the magnificent and very modern John Dehner's play (when Glenn Ford seems to be influenced by the Actor's Studio here and there), beatiful Mrs Crain and the treatment of the classic avant la lettre highnoonesque opposition or balance between a reluctant, here coward, hero despite of himself and a community brings some positive aspects in my opinion. And it tells a lot about the US cult of the gun, the special relationship between the Americans and the firearms, and its religious dimension. It is not a coincidence if Glen is bringing his revolver as an offering then sacrifice to his methodists fellow citizens and if there is half an hour or so spent inside the church. Probably it has not really changed a lot considering the number of churches everywhere in the country and the gun sales nowadays... So after the homosexual perspective what do you think of the metaphysical one !? JM

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