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Showdown at Boot Hill
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10 from 180 votes
Release: 1 May 1958 (USA) /

Showdown at Boot Hill

Genre: Drama, Western
Director: Gene Fowler Jr.,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Bounty hunter Luke Welsh arrives looking for a wanted man. When that man draws on him he has to kill him. To collect his reward he needs a statement identifying him. But the man was well liked in town and no one will sign such a statement. When he outdraws another man who thought he was faster, some townsmen decide he should be killed and they organize a mob to go after him. Written by Maurice VanAuken <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

In the late 1950s and early sixties, Charles Bronson played character roles in big films, particularly westerns, both good (The Magnificent Seven) and not so good (Four For Texas). On occasion, he also picked up a leading role in some offbeat little movie. And while Showdown at Boot Hill is often listed as his 'debut' as a lead (in fact, it isn't), the minor western entry does rate among his earliest. It's one more of the low-key, adult westerns, with a psychologically troubled anti-hero, that were churned out after the success of first The Gunfighter (1950) and then on an even bigger scale High Noon (1952). In truth, the formula was wearing a bit thin by this time, which partly explains why Magnificent Seven hit as big as it did the following year - a new kind of western for a new decade. Meanwhile, though, Bronson comports himself very well as he rides into a small town, shoots it out with a criminal there, and then plans to head back to headquarters for his bounty money. There's only one problem: As the townsfolk all liked the outlaw, they refuse to sign affidavits attesting to Bronson's having killed the guy. Maybe they can't bring him back, but they can prevent Bronson from cashing in on what he did. This would have played far better if Bronson had been identified only as a bounty hunter, i.e. gun for hire. But the writers made the mistake of having him also be a federal marshal, and take it from me, no one would have messed with anyone who carried a U.S. government badge, no matter how they felt about him. One very intriguing element is that, in the western realm of tall men, Bronson is cast as an extremely short guy who is sensitive about his diminutive height. The female lead is played by the little known Carole Matthews, who is good but nothing more. Far better is John Carradine as one of his lanky old loner types. Not necessarily worth going out of your way to see, but if this rides by your trail, take a look, partner.

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