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LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL (1959)

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This film is currently airing on the Retroflex Channel. I don't think it's been on TCM since 2007/2008. 

 

I love the interplay between Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn in this classic western. Carolyn Jones gives a darned good performance, too. 

 

And then there's the great Earl Holliman who's in a class by himself.

 

What do folks think about LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL...? 

 

I read user reviews that claim it is one of John Sturges' best films, and I am likely to concur with that notion.

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I like the film very much. Sturges had a real knack for westerns. I think the strength of the story is carried by the relationship between Douglas and Quinn. There is another dimension because of it. Holliman does do well in a role that is easily one to despise.

 

Good performances. 

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I like the film very much. Sturges had a real knack for westerns. I think the strength of the story is carried by the relationship between Douglas and Quinn. There is another dimension because of it. Holliman does do well in a role that is easily one to despise.

 

Good performances. 

Yes, and I think another thing in its favor, is that Sturges and his writers do not drag the story out. It is all compactly told in 94 minutes. 

 

This film is not going to be on anyone's list of the top 10 westerns of all time, but it should at least be considered for the number eleven spot. Wonderfully made in many ways.

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LTFGH  was made two years after Gunfight at the OK Corral by the same studio and director and with many of the same actors.  That is my all-time favorite Western and this one is on my Top Ten. 

 

Both are stories about friendships and families, those who go wrong and those who stay on the straight.  The characters are well drawn, the stories ring true and the actors perfectly cast. 

 

As a woman I should be put off by the relationship between Craig and Linda but even that is believable,  even though he's beaten her nearly to death because of his son's lies about her fidelity. She can't stop loving him even if she has enough self-respect to no longer live with him. Recent headlines point to that being true; even her asking him if he'll marry her now.  She only turns away for good when he again chooses his worthless son over her and she sees real love in the way Matt grieves over Catherine and is determined to see her killers pay.  Yet, we see she still loves Craig in that final scene.  This is adult storytelling.

 

We see both sides of prejudice too.  The people of Matt's town seem to accept Catherine and Petey as his wife and son even though she is Native American and he a "half breed".  Rick and Lee only see her as "just an Injun" beneath them and only there to meet their desires married or not.  Rick seems to have learned this from his corrupt and indulgent father who can't see the part he's played in all this until the end.  This is the tragedy like Billy in Gunfight who wants to be good but can't escape his family's evil influence.

 

Both are Western storytelling at it's best.  Their like might never come again.

                 

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LTFGH  was made two years after Gunfight at the OK Corral by the same studio and director and with many of the same actors.  That is my all-time favorite Western and this one is on my Top Ten. 

 

Both are stories about friendships and families, those who go wrong and those who stay on the straight.  The characters are well drawn, the stories ring true and the actors perfectly cast. 

 

As a woman I should be put off by the relationship between Craig and Linda but even that is believable,  even though he's beaten her nearly to death because of his son's lies about her fidelity. She can't stop loving him even if she has enough self-respect to no longer live with him. Recent headlines point to that being true; even her asking him if he'll marry her now.  She only turns away for good when he again chooses his worthless son over her and she sees real love in the way Matt grieves over Catherine and is determined to see her killers pay.  Yet, we see she still loves Craig in that final scene.  This is adult storytelling.

 

We see both sides of prejudice too.  The people of Matt's town seem to accept Catherine and Petey as his wife and son even though she is Native American and he a "half breed".  Rick and Lee only see her as "just an Injun" beneath them and only there to meet their desires married or not.  Rick seems to have learned this from his corrupt and indulgent father who can't see the part he's played in all this until the end.  This is the tragedy like Billy in Gunfight who wants to be good but can't escape his family's evil influence.

 

Both are Western storytelling at it's best.  Their like might never come again.

Good post. Thanks for your point of view. It does seem ironic that Matt's wife and son were more accepted in their town, than Linda is accepted by Rick. In both cases, we have women potentially deemed outcasts.

 

Do you think that if the film had been made now, we'd see flashbacks of Craig beating Linda? I wonder if the violence would be a lot more explicit.

 

I read that producer Hal Wallis (who produced GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL) had purchased Les Crutchfield's story for LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL a few years earlier with the idea of starring Charlton Heston as Matt. Burt Lancaster was then considered. Kirk Douglas was the third choice, but he does a superb job-- Kirk previously worked with Anthony Quinn in MGM's LUST FOR LIFE. 

 

This was Les Crutchfield's only story for the big screen. He mostly wrote television westerns, including several noteworthy episodes of Gunsmoke.

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Do you think that if the film had been made now, we'd see flashbacks of Craig beating Linda? I wonder if the violence would be a lot more explicit.

 

This was Les Crutchfield's only story for the big screen. He mostly wrote television westerns, including several noteworthy episodes of Gunsmoke.

 

First question:  Yes and Catherine's rape as well.  But why?  We learn all we need to know about the beating from the story and we se enough about the rape from the before and after scenes.  As I've said before in 1959 I was so sheltered that I didn't really know what was done to Catherine until years later but knew from what I saw that it was bad.  And sadly, I knew about Linda's injuries from personal experience-all I can say about that.  Having all this graphically shown would have done nothing to enhance the story and ruined the film for those for whom it would have been "over their heads".  Audiences then were given credit for the intelligence to figure the happenings for themselves.

 

I did not notice that Les Crutchfield was responsible for the story.  He was one of the great Gunsmoke writers-along with John Meston and two ladies, Marian Clark and Kathleen Hite.  Thanks for the info. 

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Audiences then were given credit for the intelligence to figure the happenings for themselves.

 

I did not notice that Les Crutchfield was responsible for the story.  He was one of the great Gunsmoke writers-along with John Meston and two ladies, Marian Clark and Kathleen Hite.  Thanks for the info. 

I completely agree that audiences of the past did not need the material to be dumbed down. They were able to figure things out for themselves and read between the lines. 

 

I love those half-hour episodes of Gunsmoke the best, don't you? Sam Peckinpah wrote a few of them, too, and they are truly superb.

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More info!  I've never noticed that Sam P. was involved with Gunsmoke.  Of course without him there would have been no Rifleman; it was his idea, at least in part, and his prints are all over it as a writer and director.  I saw a documentary on him on Encore Westerns a few years ago-another career derailed by the bottle.  I'll look for his Gunsmoke episodes; I'll bet I've seen a lot of them. 

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More info!  I've never noticed that Sam P. was involved with Gunsmoke.  Of course without him there would have been no Rifleman; it was his idea, at least in part, and his prints are all over it as a writer and director.  I saw a documentary on him on Encore Westerns a few years ago-another career derailed by the bottle.  I'll look for his Gunsmoke episodes; I'll bet I've seen a lot of them. 

Peckinpah wrote 11 episodes of the half-hour Gunsmoke between 1955-58, sometimes credited as David S. Peckinpah. 

 

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Its funny that I can vividly recall seeing GUNFIGHT AT THE O K CORRAL on tv  when I was quite young (its always been an often aired   very popular film ) but I only "discovered" LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL in recent years.  I probably saw it many years ago (my father loved watching these movies) but it slipped from my conscious over the years. As already stated, LAST TRAIN is done very much in the same style ( same director, actors, etc) as the earlier GUNFIGHT film (I even recognize some of the same out door settings in use).  But as a film LAST TRAIN  stands on its own as a very good , suspenseful western, actually much more serious in tone  (GUNFIGHT is more just about action and entertainment).  I love both films, and  the tension between "friends" Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn is   a lot like the film WARLOCK from the same  time period (Quinn opposes Henry Fonda  there).  Back to LAST TRAIN, I agree that the supporting cast is great here (Carolyn Jones was a very good actress) and Earl Holliman  is always very solid (usually he's a good guy but he's the despicable spoiled rich kid here). 

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Its funny that I can vividly recall seeing GUNFIGHT AT THE O K CORRAL on tv  when I was quite young (its always been an often aired   very popular film ) but I only "discovered" LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL in recent years.  I probably saw it many years ago (my father loved watching these movies) but it slipped from my conscious over the years. As already stated, LAST TRAIN is done very much in the same style ( same director, actors, etc) as the earlier GUNFIGHT film (I even recognize some of the same out door settings in use).  But as a film LAST TRAIN  stands on its own as a very good , suspenseful western, actually much more serious in tone  (GUNFIGHT is more just about action and entertainment).  I love both films, and  the tension between "friends" Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn is   a lot like the film WARLOCK from the same  time period (Quinn opposes Henry Fonda  there).  Back to LAST TRAIN, I agree that the supporting cast is great here (Carolyn Jones was a very good actress) and Earl Holliman  is always very solid (usually he's a good guy but he's the despicable spoiled rich kid here). 

In some ways, GUNFIGHT is a remake of the ones that came before (FRONTIER MARSHAL and MY DARLING CLEMENTINE). But LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL is a much more original western. 

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It is also worth noting that Douglas & Quinn previously appeared together in LUST FOR LIFE. So putting the two films side by side you can see how effective these guys are across genres, playing very different types of characters.

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It's on Encore Westerns now with Gunfight to follow and a replay at 3:00 AM.  This is the first time I've caught them in a double-feature.  Western Heaven!

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It's on Encore Westerns now with Gunfight to follow and a replay at 3:00 AM.  This is the first time I've caught them in a double-feature.  Western Heaven!

Hope you had a chance to watch or else record them. :)

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