review for No Name on the Bullet on AllMovie

No Name on the Bullet (1959)
by Bruce Eder review

Jack Arnold didn't make too many movies in Cinemascope, but when he did, he knew how to fill the screen with useful picture information -- just check out High School Confidential, in case No Name on the Bullet isn't proof enough. There isn't a shot or a frame that wastes any of the space accorded him by the widescreen image. All of that, plus the superb pacing (nothing drags in this picture and, if anything, some moments seem slightly too brisk) and the fine acting (led by R.G. Armstrong as the hero's father), make this movie work extremely well. In the process, Arnold manages to cross swords with Fred Zinnemann's High Noon, depicting the fragility of the civil order in the West, even the late, almost modern West of long-settled towns; Lordsburg is depicted as being a lot like Hadleyville in the earlier movie, a town "small enough to be comfortable in, but big enough to have a future." It also benefits from Audie Murphy's understated acting in the film; for this movie, he had unknowingly adopted a style that later served Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris well, letting those around him do most of the acting (and the talking -- he doesn't have 300 words of dialogue in the whole movie) while he remains the center of attention. It's all a pretty compelling 77 minutes of viewing, and a provocative little Western.