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Monday, July 18, 2016

'Gun the Man Down' Blu-ray: Western Noir with James Arness and Angie Dickinson

  • Gun the Man Down [Blu-ray]
The July 19, 2016 Olive Films Blu-ray (BD) release of the 1956 Western with a message "Gun the Man Down" is an awesome followup to the recent Olive BD release of the (Unreal TV reviewed) 1946 British noir thriller "Appointment with Crime." The similarities extend well beyond having television icons (James Arness of "Gunsmoke" and the First Doctor William Hartnell respectively) in the leads. Both films deal with a reluctant felon seeking revenge after his two literal partners-in-crime leave him injured and taking the fall following a robbery gone horribly wrong.

The opening scenes of "Gun" closely follow those of "Appointment" in that Arness' Remington Anderson, fellow henchman Ralph Farley, and leader-of-the-gang Matt Rankin are about to set out to commit the bank robbery that will provide Anderson enough money to buy a ranch. Dickinson's Janice spilling ink on the rough diagram that the men are using is awesome foreshadowing.

The Anderson/Janice relationship both wonderfully parallels the romance between Hartnell's Leo Martin and a 10-pence-a-dance bird and ties into great '80s pop culture. The version of Anderson is that former 19th-century prostitute Janice essentially is a waitress in a cocktail bar when he first meets her. His story is that he picked her out, shook her out, and turned her around into someone new.

Janice admits the nature of her career but alleges that she knew even then that she would find a much better place either with or without Anderson. Thus is the fate of the human league.

The rapid turn-around has Farley and Rankin absconding with both the horse and the woman of Anderson, who becomes a guest of the territorial governor. Like Martin, Anderson goes gunning for those who done him wrong following the completion of his rehabilitation.

The ensuing drama has Rankin employing a gun-for-hire who has a history with Anderson to kill Anderson before Anderson gets Rankin, Anderson confronting Janice about her betrayal, and each showdown ending in an unexpected manner.

Great humor exists regarding the exposition that provides a chance for Anderson to interact with the sheriff of the town that Rankin, Farley, and Janice now call home. Anderson rides up the the lawman on the outskirts of the community that has just a few more than one horse and asks which of the six businesses that face each other is the hotel.

For his part, the sheriff is a close second to Anderson in the contest for the best character in "Gun." His opening scenes include commentary that it is hot and is only going to get hotter as the years go by. He further shows himself to be an admirable father figure to his deputy.

This lawman additionally latter shows the patience and common sense that characterize good law-enforcement personnel even in the 21st-century.

On a larger note, "Gun" is a perfect example of the little-known depth of Westerns that keeps many fools away from them for decades. This film (as well as scads o comparable "horse operas" and television series) is FAR more than saloon fights and shootouts.

The extras consist of the terrifically vintage theatrical trailer for "Gun." They truly do not make 'em like that anymore either.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Gun" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also reach out on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.