At Gunpoint (1955)   3/53/53/53/53/5


Fred MacMurray in At Gunpoint (1955)

Revenge in Store

The Dennis gang have been targeting small banks knowing that whilst the pay off will be relatively small they won't have much trouble in the shape of the law. When they rob the bank in the sleepy town of Plainview and kill the sheriff as they flee they come up against a couple of unlikely heroes in general store owner Jack Wright (Fred MacMurray) and George Henderson (Frank Ferguson) as Jack picked up the dead sheriff's gun and manages to shoot one of the outlaws, Alvin Dennis (John Pickard), from over 50 yards whilst George finished him off. Whilst Jack is humble and says it was a lucky shot his heroics soon become big news which gets back to the rest of the Dennis gang who plan to return and avenge Alvin's death. When news hits town the locals fear trouble and not only want Jack and his wife Martha (Dorothy Malone) to sell up and leave town but no one is willing to stand up and be counted when Jack refuses to be scared off.

Three years after Gary Cooper starred as Marshal Will Kane who felt compelled to face up to the bad guys even when the rest of the town failed to support him we got Fred MacMurray in a similar situation but in this case he is the accidental hero who having shot an outlaw now finds himself the target as they seek to avenge a death. Yes "At Gunpoint" is a variation on "High Noon" with Fred MacMurray playing the good guy who finds himself having to face up to the bad guys alone when the townsfolk who called him a hero suddenly turn chicken. As such "At Gunpoint" doesn't throw up too much in the way of surprises when it comes to the story but it keeps the familiar ideas ticking over at a nice pace with just enough emotional depth when it comes to the situation and the danger which Jack and his family feel to make it more than just an action movie.

Tommy Rettig and Dorothy Malone in At Gunpoint (1955)

As for the acting well like the movie itself everyone keeps their parts ticking over especially Fred MacMurray who plays Jack with a simple honesty which makes you feel for the unlikely hero despite there not being that much depth to his character. It is the same with Dorothy Malone as his wife as you can sense her fears but again this is not the most fleshed out of characters. In fact what this movie has is a nice variety of characters all of whom are a little different and so together they give the movie plenty of variation without there being much depth to any of them.

What this all boils down to is that "At Gunpoint" is a decent mid 50s western which tells a pretty obvious storyline and keeps it ticking over. What for me it lacks is that expert touch to lift this from being just a solid, entertaining western to something which is a lot more classy and stylish.


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