Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shoot Out

A cute orphaned kid plus an ex-convict gunfighter do not equal a wonderful movie.  Shoot Out has its moments, mostly because Gregory Peck plays the gunfighter, Clay Lomax (and what was he thinking when he accepted this role?).  This 1971 film, produced by Universal Studios, could have been much better if the villains hadn’t been played as caricatures.

Paul Fix (Clarence the undertaker in Night of the Red Dog) has a small role as a train brakeman who delivers the orphan girl to Lomax.  Jeff Corey (Governor Baxter in The Day the Amnesty Came Through) plays Trooper, a wheelchair-confined ex-soldier saloon keeper who knows where Lomax’s nemesis, Sam Foley, now lives. 

It was Foley, played by James Gregory, who was Lomax’s partner in a bank robbery; Foley shot him in the back and as a result, Lomax spent seven years in prison and is now out for revenge.  Bud Westmore  and Larry Germain were the make-up artist and hairstylist for Shoot Out and did the same for the Pilot.

Foley hires a cowpoke to follow Lomax and most of Shoot Out is about what happens on the trail.  Lomax finds himself caring for the little girl after his attempts to foist her off on the owners of the mercantile, the schoolteacher, and the preacher in a town are unsuccessful.  Perhaps it was the same with Heyes and Curry after they lost their folks and that’s how they ended up at the Valparaiso Home for Waywards. 

There are several encounters—including shoot outs--between Lomax and the bad guys as they all slowly make their way to Gun Hill, where Sam Foley lives.  The final shoot out of the movie is moderately interesting but other than Gregory Peck’s performance, this movie is not worth the 94 minutes it takes to view it.

As I was watching this film, it seemed almost like a mirror image of True Grit: Instead of a young girl hiring an aging marshal to get revenge, Shoot Out has an aging ex-criminal saddled with a little girl who wants revenge.  But then the credits reveal that the producer, director, and screenwriter responsible for True Grit had the same roles in this movie, and it was no longer such a coincidence.