Ballad of a Gunfighter (1964)

Marty Robbins in Ballad of a Gunfighter (1964)

Robbins' Robbing Robin

Saloon owner McCord (Robert Barron) and his band of outlaws are all set up to rob a stagecoach but are beaten to the hit by a masked man in black riding a white horse. That man is Marty (Marty Robbins) who rather than keeping the money for himself makes the gold fall into the lap of the Padre. Unable to do anything about Marty as it would force McCord to incriminate himself he lets it fly. But the two become enemies especially when they both fall for the pretty Secora (Joyce Redd) who lives in San Angelo.

I guess I am too young to remember Marty Robbins as a singer and to my knowledge I have never come across him in a movie but I would imagine those who were fond of him might enjoy "Ballad of a Gunfighter" which is not to be confused with the 1999 movie of the same name. But for those who are either western fans or are looking for some gritty western action this is not the movie for you as it has an amateurish feel with stagy dialogue, weak, unrealistic action and poor acting. The one thing it sort of has going for it is the idea as it uses a touch of Robin Hood but in a western setting.

Having said that "Ballad of a Gunfighter" is not a western re-imagining of the classic Robin Hood as whilst it sets up Marty as the good guy in a mask who robs the rich to give to the poor that is it. Instead the real conflict comes over a woman as Marty and the nefarious business man McCord are rivals for the same woman. It makes it just another western which uses a western cliche and does little with it to make it exciting.

But beyond the storyline it is poor with acting combined with dialogue being laughable due to its unnatural feel. Talking of unnatural it might have been a crowd pleaser to see Marty do a back flip of a stagecoach he just robbed but it is ridiculous to put that into a western where the character of Marty isn't that exciting. It ends up being laughable again and embarrassing for western fans who watch "Ballad of a Gunfighter" in the hope of some gritty western action rather than tacky tricks.

What this all boils down to is that "Ballad of a Gunfighter" was a disappointment although in truth I didn't expect a great deal before watching it. It is very much a western for those who are fans of Marty Robbins rather than those who are either western enthusiasts or those who love exciting western action.