Watching this was a tour to the land of nostalgia and an enjoyable one at that. This movie is really one of the god old classical Westerns telling the story of two brave men confronting each other. No special effects, no aliens, no choleric outbursts and no foul-mouthed brats.
It was really enjoyable to watch Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn in this movie. Both were well suited for their roles and I have always liked them as actors. Maybe this is just some nostalgic connection I have though since I am sure that their performance would not wind them any Oscars today.
The story is as classical as the movie. The young brat of a wealthy cattle owner gets himself in big trouble and said cattle owner tries to prevent him, being the only son, getting what he deserves. Unfortunately the other side is not only as tough as the cattle owner but also happens to be the law. The story is well executed by John Sturges. It has the usual elements that you would expect from this kind of movie, two men posturing against each other, a bad guy who also ends up being a prisoner, a girlie torn between the two men, a few gun and fist fights and of course a grand finale.
I was enjoying every minute of this old classic.
You're leaving' on the next train. I own the sheriff! I own this town! I own every man in it! You're leaving' on the next train, Matt!
Matt Morgan (Kirk Douglas) and Craig Belden (Anthony Quinn) are old friends who went on different career paths. Morgan is a law man, settled down with his Indian wife and had a son. Belden is a cattle baron and self appointed ruler of the town of Gun Hill. When Morgan's wife is raped and murdered, he follows the only clue available to him; one of Belden's saddles. At first he hopes that Belden's saddle had been stolen, but he quickly finds that the horrendous crime has been committed by Rick (Earl Holliman), Belden's son. But upon arresting Rick, Morgan finds that Belden, and the town under his control, except Belden's on off gal, Linda (Carolyn Jones), are not keen to let him leave on the Last Train From Gun Hill.
Directed by John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven), Last Train From Gun Hill is adapted by James Poe (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) from a story written by Les Crutchfield. Photography is by Charles Lang and the score is provided by Dimitri Tiomkin.
The first thing that springs to mind upon completing a viewing of this film; is that the tale has been dealt with far better in the Western genre before. Thus Sturges' film holds no surprises at all. Only two years prior we had had the infinitely superior Delmer Daves piece, 3:10 To Yuma. However, if a story has good thematics, then why not take another wander down a well trodden moody path? Indeed, and Sturges' film is nicely constructed pretty much across the board. With its blend of psychological undertones and action, helped by the mostly impressive cast, it ends up being an entertaining Oater. This in spite of not going a little darker when perhaps it should have. In fact, Sturges, a fine director for sure, is possibly too aware of keeping the film sprightly for a general wide appeal audience, something that can also be said about Tiomkin's score. It's a bit distracting when a tension mounting sequence is scored with funky uplift music! While Lang's photography is interesting, in a good way, using nice long shots in his scorched landscape exteriors.
It's been done better, but none the less it is recommended for those genre fans who like a brave man determined to succeed against overwhelming odds. 7/10