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USA 1956
Directed by
Roger Corman
83 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Gunslinger is a pulp Western whose good/bad axis, very unusually, pivots around two strong female characters  - the good girl, Rose (Beverly Garland, Corman’s girlfriend at the time) whose husband Marshal Scott Hood (William Schallert) has been gunned down by the henchmen of bad girl, Erica Page (Allison Hayes), owner of the Red Dog saloon who has implemented an evil scheme to buy up the town in the hope that the railroad will run through it, thus making her a rich woman. As all the men are too frightened to challenge Erica's hegemony, Rose picks up her hubby’s badge and goes head to head with the madam who in turn hires a gunslinger (John Ireland) to protect her interests.

Corman manages to squeeze in a cat fight and a trio of dance hall floozies and has the two women competing for Miro’s favours whilst Erica’s frustrated admirer (and perhaps toyboy?), Jake (Jonathan Haze), burns with unrequited desire for her.  Despite this he never drags the film into the realm of the sexploitational (not that this was a concept that was around in 1956) and the film hums with a nicely judged libidinal energy. Ireland doesn’t represent too well a character with two women on the dangle but everyone seems to be giving the production the best they’ve got and even when this isn’t a lot, its economical (aka cheap) production values manage to have some charm. And let’s face it how often do you see women calling the shots in a Western?

DVD Extras: Offered as a double feature with The Glory Guys (d. Arnold Laven, 1965), an indifferent Western of marginal interest as it was scripted by Sam Peckinpah.

Available from: Shock Entertainment




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