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USA 1967
Directed by
John Sturges
101 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Hour Of The Gun

Ten years after his Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) John Sturges returns to one of the most iconic gunfight of the Western genre and re-works it in the revisionist spirit that marked the late 60s and that would hit it apogee in Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch two years later.

The film opens with the advice to the audience: “this movie is based on fact. This is the way it happened” a rather strange claim that seems to want to have it both ways – historical veracity AND artistic license. The latter is very apparent but one assumes that, unlike the 1957 version which had the Clanton' s wiped out, the script by Edward Anhalt, based on Douglas D. Martin's Tombstone's Epitaph contains a good measure of the former as it tells what happened after the infamous gun battle and the Clantons and the Earps fought it out to the bitter end.

Although an uneven production that at times, particularly in the interior scenes, looks quite ersatz, even televisual, a problem compounded by the casting of  actors such as William Schallert in the minor roles, Hour Of The Gun has a solid core grounded in the three leads: James Garner (Wyatt Earp), Jason Robards ('Doc' Holliday) and Robert Ryan (Ike Clanton). Kicking off with the famous gunfight it follows events that subsequently took place – the revenge killing of Morgan Earp and the attempted murder of Virgil Earp by Ike Clanton and Wyatt’s attempt to bring him to justice and when that failed, to mete it out himself.

Sturges takes too long in telling the story which loses steam in its latter stages but Garner makes for a compelling Earp and a winning Robards gets all the best lines as his faithful companion. Jon Voight, still a bit player at this stage, appears as Curley Bill Brocius.

DVD Extras: Available as a double feature with the Sergio Corbucci directed Spaghetti Western, Navajo Joe (1966),

Available from: Shock Entertainment




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