The Alan Smithee Blogathon – The Death of a Gunfighter (1969)


This is the first of two posts for The Alan Smithee Blogathon being hosted by Steve of the Movie Movie Blog Blog.

Tnx for letting me participate!

“It’s awful seeing a man kill himself. One minute he’s there… alive… then he’s dead. Blood and the smell of powdersmoke. And it’s all over and done with. It’s awful!” – Dan Joslin

Number of Times Seen – 1 (29 Aug 2019)

Brief Synopsis – An aging sheriff that refuses to retire is wanted dead by the townspeople.

My Take on it – When looking for a film to watch for this blogathon, I came across this movie which turns out to be the very first film ever to use the pseudonym of Alan Smithee for its director.

I have always been a fan of Richard Widmark’s work, but didn’t have very high expectations since the fact that the director refused to take credit for his work here already says so much about the quality of the film that we will get.

The truth is that this film is quite boring and doesn’t fond any way for us to acre about any of the character despite having Widmark, Lena Horne and Carrol O’Connor in prominent roles.

Widmark feels quite miscast in this role and it’s hard to understand why a character would act the way he does especially since they don’t really take the time to develop his character or any of the others in a way that would make him sympathetic.

This movie’s theme tries to show how the West and its people were affected by changed at the turn of the Century in order to make things adjust better to the modern world, yet it doesn’t accomplish much that hasn’t been done better in other forms of media both before and after this was made.

The film has a romantic side story between Widmark and a local brothel madame played by Horne, but the two of them have no chemistry together what so ever and that hurts things even more and this is in spite of the fact that they tried to cause controversy by having the couple be an interracial one.

Bottom Line – Really boring western that fails to find a way to make us care about any of the characters. Widmark is miscast in this role and isn’t able to make us believe that his character could be like this. The theme of this film about the changes in the way people acted in the West while trying to become more modern is realized much better in other films and TV shows and they don’t manage to make us really care about the changes happening in the town. The side story about the Sheriff’s relationship with a brothel madame played by Horne also fails to work because the characters have no chemistry together what so ever.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Star Richard Widmark and original director Robert Totten had “artistic differences,” and Totten was replaced by Don Siegel. When the film was completed, Siegel, saying that Totten directed more of the film than he did, refused to take screen credit for it, but Widmark didn’t want Totten’s name on it. A compromise was reached whereby the film was credited to the fictitious “Alan Smithee” (originally to be called Al Smith, but the DGA said there had already been a director by that name), thereby setting a precedent for directors who, for one reason or another, did not want their name on a film they made. (From IMDB)

Rating – Razzie Worthy (3/10)

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5 thoughts on “The Alan Smithee Blogathon – The Death of a Gunfighter (1969)

  1. Pingback: AN ALAN SMITHEE BLOGATHON is here! – MovieMovieBlogBlog II

  2. Pingback: AN ALAN SMITHEE BLOGATHON is here! – MovieMovieBlogBlog II

  3. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1969 | MovieRob

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