Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gun Belt

I don't think I've ever seen George Montgomery in anything besides ASJ (Curt Clitterhouse in Jailbreak at Junction City) so it was enjoyable to watch him as Billy Ringo in Gun Belt. He played a reformed outlaw, engaged to be married; his fiance, Helen Westcott, played by Arlene Reach, was a strong character who made the role more interesting than the usual love interest depicted in many Westerns. Montgomery looked younger and leaner but was recognizable because his voice and facial expressions were the same.

The story starts off with Billy's outlaw brother, Matt Ringo, escaping from an unnamed Territorial Prison. He and his three sidekicks find Billy on a ranch, along with Matt's son. Matt was sprung from prison so he could talk his brother into doing another job for a businessman in Tucson. Billy declines but ends up helping anyway after he is framed for a bank robbery and murder. There is lots of action and adventure, although the ending was predictable and sappy.

The characters in this 90-minute, 1953 color film are a mix of historical persons and fictional ones; for example, Billy Ringo and Ike Clinton appear to be stand-ins for Johnny Ringo and Ike Clanton. But, Virgil and Wyatt Earp make appearances as well. In fact, it was very interesting to compare Gun Belt's Wyatt Earp with the one in Which Way to the O.K. Corral?

A few side notes: Matt Ringo makes a comment about being naked when he was in prison and unable to wear a gun, similar to Kid's comment in the Pilot. There's a scene where Billy and Ike shake hands to seal a deal, presaging Clitterhouse's deal with Heyes. This deal worked out about just as well as that one. Boyd "Red" Morgan, who played Augie Helms in The Fifth Victim, is a gang member in Gun Belt, though I couldn't identify him on screen.

There's also a reference to Robin Hood and thieves, which harks back to the opening credits of ASJ. And when one character shoots another and then puts the whiskey glass he'd been drinking from down on a desk, I immediately thought of fingerprints, as described by Heyes in Something to Get Hung About. Gun Belt has lots of ASJ references for those who look for them!