Four Fast Guns (1960)

Four Fast Guns (1960)
 
 

Purgatory gets a Tamer

James Craig in Four Fast Guns (1960)

As he travels across the wilds gunslinger Tom Sabin (James Craig) comes across a "town tamer" who warns him to stay out of the town of Purgatory as that is where he is heading. But after killing the tamer Sabin rides straight in to Purgatory where he agrees to take on the job of town tamer as long as when he has done the job they will send his $500 pay on to a woman. No soon as Sabin arrived in town that wheelchair bound businessman Hoag (Paul Richards) sends one of his men to kill him but failing. Hoag doesn't stop there as he sets about hiring other gunmen to come to town to remove Sabin who strikes up a friendship with Hoag's wife Mary (Martha Vickers). But eventually Sabin finds himself coming up against something more than just a quick on the draw gunslinger.

When "Four Fast Guns" started I had to double check something because here was a widescreen western from 1960 yet unusually it was in black and white and frankly looked like the film stock was from the 1940s. It immediately spikes your curiosity yet at the same time looks distinctly low budget which is compounded by the fact that the direction is solid but unremarkable whilst also lacking a big star name to headline the movie. In truth when "Four Fast Guns" finished I was still not entirely sure whether the decision to shoot on black & white on what appears to be low grade stock was a choice or caused by budget constraints although in a strange way it adds something to the movie rather than takes away from it.

Now as to the story well for the most it is nothing more than generic, gunslinger rides in to town and agrees to take on the crooked businessman who controls the place. The fact that the businessman just happens to be in a wheelchair is a good addition but the whole drama surrounding Sabin and Martha Hoag is as generic as the main storyline. In a way it almost feels like the link between the traditional westerns and the spaghetti westerns which were to come.

Except "Four Fast Guns" has a clever twist and one which I will reveal so if you don't want to know you had better just watch the movie. The twist is that one of the gunslingers Hoag hires ends up being Sabin's brother which delivers the possibility that they may end up having to draw upon each other although seeing so much of the movie is generic maybe they will team up against Hoag. That is the one story element in the entire movie which strays from the western text book but is enough to make "Four Fast Guns" worth watching.

What this all boils down to is that "Four Fast Guns" is a curious western due to its look and it also has a reasonable twist to make it worth watching. But sadly for the most it is just a text book western which looks like it was made on a budget with old film stock.

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