An outlaw kills a marshal and steals his identity; a Pinkerton pursues him across the open country.
|Release Date||:||September 6, 2016|
|Director||:||Orson Ossman, Tyler Graham Pavey|
|Writers||:||Tyler Graham Pavey, Orson Ossman|
|Casts||:||Eric Roberts, Orson Ossman, Chriss Voss, Martha Mae, David Ossman|
Since Hollywood has all but abandoned the western as a profitable movie genre, independent filmmakers have rushed in to appropriate it. Unfortunately, most of these indie oaters have been pretty abysmal, even when they boast well-known talent, like Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth in the dreary western "The Duel." Co-writers and co-director Orson Ossman and Tyler Graham Pavey have taken their shot at the genre with "The Gunfighter." No, their film isn't a remake of the Henry King classic "The Gunfighter" starring Gregory Peck. Moreover, it has little to do with gunfighters. The cover to the DVD promises something that the film never delivers. Instead, "The Gunfighter" appeared under its original title "Five Thousand" (2014) with Ossman and Pavey starring in the lead roles. Despite its obvious no-budget look, this western isn't as wretched as many indie westerns. The small cast can actually act, but their characters lack any charisma or sympathy.
Nominally, "The Gunfighter" follows the trail of a desperado on the dodge, Jasper Mudd (Orson Ossman of "The Phoenix Project"), who is struggling to elude a lawman, Marshal Denton J Cartwright (Eric Roberts of "The Expendables"), who managed inexplicably to escape from him in the first place. Eventually, Cartwright catches up with Mudd and shoots him in the back. The bullet perforates Mudd's shoulder. Mudd has exhausted his supply of ammunition for his six-gun, and Cartwright is poised to blow his head off when everything goes awry. Initially, Cartwright calculated that Jasper had run out of bullets, but the outlaw managed to scavenge a last cartridge from his boot. Mudd surprises the lawman and kills him. Afterward, Mudd appropriates the lawman's gun and identity. Little does our hero know it but a tenacious Pinkerton Detective, Eugene Stockton (newcomer Chris Voss), is pursuing him. The wanted poster circulated about Mudd offers a $5-thousand reward. Our wounded protagonist loses Stockton because the Pinkerton agent's horse comes up lame and he has to shoot it. Later, Mudd staggers onto property owned by a comely woman, Annabelle Jefferies (Martha Mae of "Hotel Commedia"), living in the middle of nowhere. The odd relationship between Mudd and Annabelle is intriguing and ends in tragedy that you really cannot anticipate. Later, we learn that her gun-toting husband has gone into town for a spell. Predictably, Stockton catches up with Mudd at the small homestead, but surprisingly Annabelle introduces Mudd as her husband. She maintains this pretense, and Stockton tries to expose Mudd by asking him to play a banjo inclined against a corner. Mudd warbles a clever little tune entitled "A Worried Man" and convinces Stockton that Annabelle and he are married. One evening as he is sitting down to supper, Mudd notices that the woman has set out an empty bowl and cup. Suddenly, Annabelle appears with her deadly double-barreled shotgun and attempts to obliterate him. Mudd blasts her to kingdom come and drags her bloody corpse into the bedroom of the shack and leaves her strewn in bed.
No sooner has Mudd gunned down Annabelle than Stockton returns, and Annabelle's real husband arrives, find his wife dead, and Stockton guns him down. The remainder of "The Gunfighter" concerns Mudd's efforts to shake the ever-present Stockton off his trail. He stumbles across two gunmen at a barn who try to steal his horse, and he dispatches them before Stockton confronts him again. Unfortunately, Mudd runs out of bullets again. Indeed, Stockton has been tracking Mudd in an effort to locate the satchel full of gold ingots that he stole from a train with his brothers. Stockton catches up with Mudd, but instead of shooting him, he strings him up in an abandoned barn. He hangs a sign around Mudd's neck with the word 'thief' on it. The surprise ending generates some suspense as the Pinkerton agent tightens the noose around Mudd's neck.
"The Gunfighter" is an interesting but routine western that suffers from a threadbare budget. Everything about its execution and cinematography looks commendable. Despite its languorous packing and lack of polish, this minor oater possesses the folksy quality of a Coen brothers' dramedy. You might get impatient waiting for anything to happen. As the only remotely recognizable actor, Roberts is very good as the lawman. Ossman and Pavey employ him in much the same fashion that Alfred Hitchcock used Janet Leigh in "Psycho." Nevertheless, everything looks authentic enough to pass muster. It would be interesting to see what Ossman and Pavey could accomplish on a bigger budget.