What’s the Rockbrat Viewing Today? The Gunfight At Dodge City (1959)

Time for another review of a lost cult film classic. You know the drill here – I don’t do a weekly movie review blog, just whenever I watch something good that’s worthy of your attention, that’s in keeping with the Rockbrat doctrine of writing about all things cool. Cowboy Col is not just a radio fan – he also digs film, but not modern shite like Hollywood blockbuster super hero remakes or carbon copy ’actors’ such as De Craprio and the like – no, he digs westerns, cult film, B stuff, noir from the 50’s etc. The bible is a series of three movie review books which came out in 81 and then the early 80′s by a guy called Danny Peary. Peary likes film and baseball. Nice. The books are simply called ‘Cult Films’ 1, 2 and 3′ and are indispensible. No I don’t wanna watch some heart string tugging lefty art piece about life in Afghanistan, nor romantic dross like Titanic. I don’t want to watch any films with a subtle save the planet made with CG like Avatar. Nope, for me, it’s often the forgotten, undiscovered gems I search out, and today’s film that the Rockbrat is viewing is a cult classic from 1959 called ‘The Gunfight At Dodge City’. Joel McCrea is one of the unsung actors of his time, certainly in the Western genre, of which he made dozens of films. He played many B film roles, yet was perhaps more deserving of more A films than he made, such was his fine acting skills. If you have seen him in Peckinpah’s 1962 classic  ‘Ride The High Country’ with Randolph Scott, you’ll know what I’m talking about. McCrea’s portrayal as a Texas Ranger in the radio series, ‘Tales Of The Texas Rangers’ is also first class, and one of my favourite western radio dramas, yet it’s this film,  ‘The Gunfight at Dodge City’  that I rate as probably my favourite McCrea film. It was released in 1959 and also stars Julie Adams, John McIntire, Nancy Gates, Richard Anderson & Walter Coy. It was directed by Joseph M. Newman. The premise is fairly straightforward. McCrea plays Bat Masterson, a man who is wanting peace, but is often confronted by trouble. When it arrives, he takes care of it with his gun, leaving behind a trail of dead. When an army sergeant in Hays City tries to kill Bat and is killed, Bat heads for Dodge City where Ed, his brother, is city marshal and a candidate for county sheriff running against the corrupt Regan. Bat buys a share in a local saloon, partnering with the widow Lily. When his brother Ed  is cowardly shot in the back and killed, Bat accepts the offer to run for county sheriff against the corrupt Regan, only to ultimately learn that the real killer is someone entirely different. Add to the mix that Bat finds himself drawn towards his brother’s ex – Pauline (the minister’s daughter), whilst at the same time Lili is also vying for his love. Not wanting the job of sheriff in the first place but only accepting it to please the minister’s daughter, Bat willingly breaks the law to aid an old friend, almost losing both his position and his life in the ensuing shootout with Regan. The upright but not always law-abiding gunslinger and saloon owner becomes a lawman and settle down in Dodge. The film moves along at a nice pace. Watch for a young and very cool Richard Anderson – more commonly known as Oscar in The Six Million Dollar man. This is one of the great unsung westerns. Cowboy Col’s rating? 9 out of 10. Watch the trailer for the film here.

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