Colin over at Riding The High Country has posted another great piece — this one on Last Train From Gun Hill (1959).
Read it when you get a chance. Or better yet, watch the film, then read Colin’s post.
This is one picture where the more time I spent with it — watching it, researching it, or reading something like what Colin has written — the better sense I get of just what a good movie it really is. It’s so intense and entertaining, you lose track of its many qualities — from the performances to Charles Lang’s VistaVision cinematography to Dmitri Tiomkin’s score.
And let’s not forget the script (which Dalton Trumbo had a hand in, though nobody seems to know just how much). Here’s a taste —
Matt Morgan (Kirk Douglas): “I know an old man who’d like to kill you, Belden — the Indian way: slow. That’s how I’m gonna do it: slow — but the white man’s way. First you stand trial. That takes a fair amount of time, and you’ll do a lot of sweating! Then they’ll sentence ya. I never seen a man who didn’t get sick to his stomach when he heard the kind of sentence you’ll draw. After that you’ll sit in a cell and wait, maybe for months, thinking how that rope will feel around your neck. Then they’ll come around, some cold morning, just before sun-up. They’ll tie your arms behind you. You’ll start blubbering, kicking, yelling for help. But it won’t do you any good. They’ll drag you out in the yard, heave you up on that platform, fix that rope around your neck and leave you out there all alone with a big black hood over your eyes. You know the last sound you hear? Kind of a thump when they kick the trapdoor catch — and down you go. You’ll hit the end of that rope like a sack of potatoes, all dead weight. It’ll be white hot around your neck and your Adam’s Apple will turn to mush. You’ll fight for your breath, but you haven’t got any breath. Your brain will begin to boil. You’ll scream and holler! But nobody’ll hear you. You’ll hear it. But nobody else. Finally you’re just swingin’ there — all alone and dead.”