Film Review: At Gunpoint,
Alfred L Werker, 1955

"What kind of country would this be if people were like this all over?" Jack Wright (Fred MacMurray)

"Same as anywhere, I imagine, no worse, no better." Doc Lacy (Walter Brennan)

At Gunpoint

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At Gunpoint, Alfred L Werker, 1955

This derivative film - it is a reworking of High Noon - is nevertheless well worth watching. The script spells out its message about what it means to be American with a lacks of subtlety, but the acting is superb. Walter Brennan is hard hitting, while the leads Fred MacMurray and Dorothy Malone deliver fine performances.

When the storekeeper of the remote town of 'Plainview' shoots the leader of a bank robbing gang with what he claims to be a "lucky shot", he discovers the true meaning of the word 'community'. He gets the Gary Cooper treatment of High Noon. The citizens of Plainview are right behind those defending the law until it becomes life threatening. At this point they quickly reconsider and find all manner of justifications to stand back. Fred MacMurray is brilliant, speaking with his customary staccato sardonic delivery. "Nice town this, like you said, Doc, nice people" - I don't think so.

At Gunpoint is well directed by Alfred L Werker, he keeps the tension mounting at a good pace. It is a study of bullying and the real meaning of community. Neither the melodramatic music nor its derivative quality should mislead you into thinking that this film is brash and unsophisticated; or worse still "obvious and sluggish, even as average Westerns go", as it was condemned by Boseley Crowther on its release. (New York Times February 4 1956). This is a cracker, I thoroughly recommend it.

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Chris Smallbone November 2012
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