6.3/10
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Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

M/PG | | Western | 8 May 1969 (USA)
A Texas town's council fires the town's old-fashioned marshal who refuses to resign, thus leading to violence from both sides.

Directors:

Don Siegel (as Allen Smithee), Robert Totten (as Allen Smithee)

Writers:

Joseph Calvelli (screenplay), Lewis B. Patten (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Widmark ... Marshal Frank Patch
Lena Horne ... Claire Quintana
Carroll O'Connor ... Lester Locke
David Opatoshu ... Edward Rosenbloom
Kent Smith ... Andrew Oxley
Jacqueline Scott ... Laurie Mills
Morgan Woodward ... Ivan Stanek
Larry Gates ... Mayor Chester Sayre
Dub Taylor ... Doc Adams
John Saxon ... Lou Trinidad
Darleen Carr ... Hilda Jorgenson
Michael McGreevey ... Dan Joslin
Royal Dano ... Arch Brandt
Jimmy Lydon ... Luke Mills (as James Lydon)
Kathleen Freeman ... Mary Elizabeth
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Storyline

In the turn-of-the century Texas town of Cottownwood Springs, marshal Frank Patch is an old-style lawman in a town determined to become modern. When he kills drunken Luke Mills in self-defense, the town leaders decide it's time for a change. They ask for Patch's resignation, but he refuses on the basis that the town on hiring him had promised him the job for as long as he wanted it. Afraid for the town's future and even more afraid of the fact that Marshal Patch knows all the town's dark secrets, the city fathers decide that old-style violence is the only way to rid themselves of the unwanted lawman. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Marshall Patch... he lived by the law of the gun...

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

M/PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 May 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Patch See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Star Richard Widmark and original director Robert Totten had "artistic differences," and Totten was replaced by Don Siegel. When the film was completed, Siegel, saying that Totten directed more of the film than he did, refused to take screen credit for it, but Widmark didn't want Totten's name on it. A compromise was reached whereby the film was credited to the fictitious "Alan Smithee" (originally to be called Al Smith, but the DGA said there had already been a director by that name), thereby setting a precedent for directors who, for one reason or another, did not want their name on a film they made. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film you can see the electrical wires running (presumably buried for most of their length under the differently-coloured soil) to a man's body as he is 'shot'; the last yard or so of wire -which is presumably for the gunshot SFX- is clearly visible running towards the man's ankles. See more »

Quotes

Wil Oxley: Why did my father kill himself?
Marshal Frank Patch: I don't know, son.
Wil Oxley: Tell me! Tell me!
Marshal Frank Patch: A long time ago, a man was killed... shot in the back.
Wil Oxley: My father did it?
Marshal Frank Patch: Nobody knew for sure who did it.
Wil Oxley: You knew. Why didn't he hang?
Marshal Frank Patch: There was nothing to be gained by hanging. The dead man had a child - a son. Your father agreed to raise him as his own.
See more »


Soundtracks

SWEET APPLE WINE
Lyrics Carol Hall
Music Oliver Nelson
Sung by Lena Horne
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Second cousin to Monte Walsh and Lonely Are The Brave.
28 July 2011 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Death of a Gunfighter is directed by Don Siegel and Robert Totten under the pseudonym of Alan Smithee. It's adapted to screenplay by Joseph Calvelli from the novel written by Lewis B. Patten. it stars Richard Widmark, Lena Horne and Carroll O'Connor. A Technicolor production it sees music is by Oliver Nelson and cinematography by Andrew Jackson. Plot sees Widmark as Patch, an old style lawman in the town of Cottonwood Springs, a town that the community elders want to see move with the times. When Patch kills a drunk in self defence, the town denizens see it as the ideal opportunity to oust him from office. But Patch isn't that keen to leave his post....

It carries with it some historical cinematic value in that it was the first time the name Alan Smithee was seen on the directing credits. A name that come to be associated with films where the director who worked on it wanted his name off of the credits. Here it was Don Siegel, who only came in for the last two weeks of filming after Widmark and Totten fell out. The finished product, whilst no duffer, is still a lukewarm experience, not helped by the fact that the theme at its core has been done considerably better in other Western offerings. On the plus side there is Widmark stoically giving his anachronism role some real emotional depth, and the finale does not want for dramatic impact. But it plays out like a TV movie, with no visual flourishes, and the cosmopolitan make up of the townsfolk is not utilised to aid the story. 6/10


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