Man With the Gun (1955)

Directed by Richard Wilson - starring Robert Mitchum, Henry Hull, Jan Sterling and Karen Sharpe

The movie opens with a man shooting a dog in front of a young boy in the middle of the street, thus setting the grim tone of what's to follow.

Robert Mitchum plays 'Clint Tollinger', a man who comes to town looking for his wife, Nelly Bain (Jan Sterling), who ran away from him and who now runs a saloon full of girls. Clint has a reputation as a town tamer and once the folks in town learn of his presence they decide to employ him to clean up their act and rid them of a ruthless cattle baron, Dade Holman (an un-credited Joe Barry), who's been taking them over with his violent ways. Unfortunately for the town they soon find out that the medicine is almost as bad as the cure.

Henry Hull plays the town Sheriff, a weathered tired old man who refuses to stand up to Dade Holman and his goons. He deputizes Clint and tries to stay out of his way only helping once things start to tip in their favor. A young man named Jeff Castle (John Lupton) is the only one in town who's willing to fight for his land. Holman's thugs having burnt down his new house and knocked him around. Jeff is looking to take back what's rightfully his back but he doesn't stand a chance and his hot-headedness risks him losing his soon-to-be bride, Stella Akins (Karen Sharpe). Stella, along with most of the women in town, take an immediate liking to Clint. This is picked up by Clint's wife who gets jealous of the younger woman, who Clint says reminds him of her when she was younger and more innocent.

A quick paced western-noir that has Mitchum playing a troubled man right set to explode. Mitchum rides into town and locates his wife only to find that she wants nothing to do with him, that is unless he wants to put his guns down. He doesn't. Gunslinging is all he knows. He rids the town of most of the riff-raff then waits for their boss to show. 

**SPOILERS** In a heated discussion he finds out from his wife that their daughter died years ago from influenza and she's been keeping it a secret, punishing herself over it. Mitchum's rage boils over and he darts out the room. He walks over to Dade Holman's saloon and coaxes the crooked manager into a fight, killing him, then sets the building ablaze, risking the whole town of burning down.

He stands aside sweating, in awe of the fire as the townsfolk rush to wet down the nearby buildings.

There are several un-credited cameos by bit players. A young Angie Dickinson can be seen in the group of dancing girls and Claude Akins is one of Holman's gang who tries to shoot Mitchum with a gun hidden in is hat. Directed by Richard Wilson, a protégé of Orson Welles, and shot in glorious black and white. The film fits in nicely with Mitchum's other noir-like westerns: BLOOD ON THE MOON and PURSUED. All three are worth seeking out for fans of noir and adult westerns of the 1940's and 50's.


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