I like westerns with a strong psychological component, along with some action. That is what this film delivers. The theme throughout is brother Bless's apparent cowardice or attempt to diffuse potentially explosive situations by peaceful means. Bless(Jeffrey Hunter) is much like Gregory Peck's character in "The Big Country", released the following year. Bless's mother takes up for him when others criticize him. Nonetheless, she wants him to move to St. Louis with her. She's tired of all the hassles involved in ranching. Audrey, brother Will's girlfriend, also takes up for him, saying he just has a different attitude than the others. Even older brother Will sometimes takes up for him. The most blatant example of cowardice is when a rattlesnake is near a reclining brother Hade. Will tells him to shoot it. He tries, but his gun shakes in his hand, and he gives up, so that Will has to shoot it. Later, brother Hade and cowhand Stringer make a fake rattlesnake tethered by a string, with a dried gourd as a rattle. this is put on Bless's chest while sleeping. He jumps in a panic when he awakens, and shoots the fake snake. Later, we discover that he had a traumatic experience with a rattlesnake when a boy. It bit his father, who died, and he ran away. Another example: brother Hade chose to stay in a spot during a shootout with rustlers, with stampeding steers all around. Bless moved to a safer place, but Hade didn't follow him, and got shot dead. He was criticized for not staying with his brother, even if it was more dangerous. Another example: Cowhand Stringer was sore because Bless checked out the details of his property, which was about to be foreclosed. Stringer wanted to fight, because he saw the brothers as taking advantage of him. However, Bless and Hade finally convinced him that they were doing him a favor in buying his land. Still another example: he tried to calm a potentially explosive situation involving Hade in a saloon. Some reviewers claim there is too much talk and not enough action. However, I cite the following examples of action.1)Will shooting the threatening rattlesnake 2)Will's encounter with the squatter nesters, shooting one. 3) The explosive situation in the saloon, where one man is shot 4)Bless riding a bucking bronco 5)Rustlers stampede their cattle, including several rustlers and Hade shot dead. 6)Stringer and Bless fight, followed by Will shooting Stringer.7)Will and Bless fight. The last 2 actions constitute the climax of the film. I won't reveal the subsequent ending. Janice Rule plays the main romantic interest for both Will and Bless. She was beautiful and had a lot of charisma as an 'all American' girl. She has to make up her mind whether she wants to marry an older, well established, man(Will)or an age mate who is still uncertain of his calling(Bless). Chill Wills was also present much of the time, as an old timer, with much wisdom. I believe that Fred MacMurray, as Will, should have been cast as the father, rather than an older brother. Although Fred still looked young at 49, he was only 5 years younger than Josephine Hutchinson, who played his mother, and 28 years older than Dean Stockwell, who played his kid brother. This film is available cheaply as a DVD in a set of 8 westerns.
Gun for a Coward
Gun for a Coward
After the death of a rancher his three sons run the ranch but one of them is seen as a coward because of his reluctance to gunfight.
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April 9, 2019