Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. at Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear made the most casual of mentions of John Sturges’ Last Train From Gun Hill (1959) the other day.
What a movie. Seeing it as a kid, I was struck by the intensity and overall nastiness of the whole thing. Rape. Murder. Arson. (Remind you of Blazing Saddles?) A shotgun stuck under someone’s chin. That’s 94 minutes well spent.
“Taut” is a word used a lot when Last Train From Gun Hill comes up. Very different from its better-known, even iconic predecessor Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957). Even Burt Lancaster thought that one was too talky, and Budd Boetticher told Moviemaker: “In Sturges’ picture, he’s got the four guys at the O.K. Corral walking down the middle of the street! You could have killed them with a bucket of hot water, for Christ’s sake!”
There’s a lot of overlap in the credits — John Sturges, Hal Wallis, Kirk Douglas, Dmitri Tiomkin, Charles Lang, Jr. (whose VistaVision photography is always fabulous) and others. But while it makes sense for the two pictures to be linked (they played theaters as a double feature, and are currently available together on DVD), Gun Hill deserves a place on the list of the decade’s best Westerns — maybe the space occupied by its older brother.