Z-View: “The Fastest Gun Alive”

The Pitch: ”Hey, let’s do a western and call it ‘The Fastest Gun Alive.’ The title alone will sell it.”

“Let’s do it!”

The Tagline:  “WHAT HAPPENS in the next few minutes makes one of the most dramatic climaxes of any story you’ve ever seen!”

The Overview:  Broderick Crawford is Vinnie Harold the leader of a trio [along with John Dyner and Noah Beery, Jr.] of bank robbers and the self-proclaimed fastest gun alive.   Harold takes every opportunity to challenge and kill other fast-draws.

Glenn Ford plays George Temple, a shopkeeper in a frontier town.  Temple doesn’t drink, doesn’t wear a gun and has more than a couple of secrets.  One is that his real name is George Kelby, Jr. and the other is that he may be the fastest gunfighter ever to strap on a gun belt.  Temple/Kelby just wants a quiet life with his wife.  He knows that if the townspeople find out his real name, his prowess with a gun or the notches it contains, his life in the town is finished.

Yet, keeping the secret is killing Temple.  The men in town look down on him.  Temple isn’t considered a real man – he doesn’t drink or carry gun.  Temple doesn’t work with his hands — he’s storekeeper who sells dresses and candy.  When the men begin talking about how fast Vinnie Harold was when he gunned down Clint Fallon, it is more than Temple can take.  He starts drinking and talking about how fast he is with a gun.  No one believes him until he proves it.

Unfortunately for Temple and the town, Vinnie Harold and his crew are on the run from a posse and all roads lead to their quiet little town.

*** Beware – minor spoilers are found below ***

The Good

  • The story for The Fastest Gun Alive is deeper than your typical 50’s cowboy/gunfighter movie.  The psychology of being the “fastest gun alive” makes it clear that being #1 is not only an obsession, but frightening to everyone (including the person who is the fastest).
  • Glenn Ford is excellent as this flawed hero.  As his secrets come out, you realize the depth of his character’s struggle with being “the fastest gun alive.”
  • The supporting cast contains a lot of familiar faces: Russ Tamblyn, Lief Erickson, John Dehner, and Noah Beery, Jr.
  • Special props to John Dehner in his role of Broderick Crawford’s second in command.
  • Broderick Crawford’s hand motions and body language before he enters into a gunfight.

The Bad:

  • Broderick Crawford as Vinnie Harold. Harold is obsessed with being the fastest gun alive and will go to any lengths to prove it.  Harold is a big, loudmouth bully with the gun speed to back up his mouth.
  • How quickly the townspeople are ready to turn.

The Ugly:

  • How out-of-place and how much I liked Russ Tamblyn’s dance scene.