The Gunfighter (1950)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Outlaw (Gunfighter) Film, Psychological Western  |   Release Date - Jun 23, 1950 (USA)  |   Run Time - 84 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

A character study of a reluctant gunman, The Gunfighter (1950) was a notable predecessor to the revisionist emphasis on the end of the Westerner (and the West) in such 1960s and 1970s films as Ride the High Country (1962) and The Shootist (1976). The questionable morals of Gregory Peck's mustachioed Jimmy Ringo make him less than ideal, but Peck's mien and the exhausted Ringo's wish to be reunited with his estranged wife lend the character a measure of heroic gravity that sets him apart from the "squirts" eager to take their shot at him. The portrayal of a gunfighter at the end of his rope is underlined by the frequency of indoor scenes; the frontier vistas that defined the Western genre are nearly absent. The visual promise of the move westward is transformed into muted, shadowy gray interiors, in which Ringo deals with the legacy of his notoriety as the top gun in the West. Lauded for Peck's laconic yet deeply felt performance and its adept psychological examination of the unwanted results of myth-making violence, The Gunfighter earned an Oscar nomination for William Bowers's and André de Toth's screen story.