Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Fastest Gun Alive (Russell Rouse, 1956, B-)

Great black and white cinematography and a solid performance from Glenn Ford. Unfortunately, Jeanne Crain, whom I usually like, overacts. She reads every line with this sort of tragic voice of weariness and disappointment and it gets a little tiresome after awhile. But it was nice to see Glenn Ford in the genre he's most known for, the western. Confession, I've never actually seen any Glenn Ford movies before, this was my first, and I was struck by his naturalistic performance and his almost James Dean-like line delivery, sometimes speaking in an under-the-breath sort of way, sometimes talking too fast or talking over someone else's lines, or just talking in an off-hand sort of way, as if he were just talking and not reading lines from a script. I liked it and I hope to see more Glenn Ford pictures in the future.

I also enjoyed the shoot-out at the end of the movie. For a film called "Fastest Gun Alive" one expects some fast gun work, and the first gun shot of the final duel doesn't disappoint. Using misdirection through dialogue and camera work, the shot really does "feel" fast, as it took me by surprise. At first, Ford and Broderick Crawford's bad guy get the typical shoot-out-at-high-noon treatment, with a sequence of shots showing the two men slowly approaching the middle of the street, overhead shots that emphasize the distance still between them, their figures positioned at the edges of the frame as they gradually close in on one another, etc. But when the first shot is fired, the characters aren't being filmed in that typical "here comes the first shot" kind of way; the camera is just resting easily as if this were another typical dialogue scene before the shooting starts. And then suddenly the shooting starts. It's pretty effective and one of the better shoot-out scenes I've seen (not that I've seen very many, admitedly).

Russ Tamblyn also co-stars and has a high-spirited dance number that seems out-of-place in this otherwise gloomy sort of western. Music is, to my surprise, by Andre Previn.

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