Hi, kapow, kapow, Burl here, tzing tzing tzing! Ha ha, sounds like I’m in a gunfight, doesn’t it! No, I’m just here to review a movie for you: Gunslinger, the Roger Corman western! It’s not the only Roger Corman western, of course: there’s also Apache Woman and Five Guns West, and probably others! But this was his last one, or so they say!
It’s a lot like Nicholas Ray’s great picture Johnny Guitar, which had come out two years before! But this wasn’t a case of Corman recreating someone else’s massive hit on a micro-budget, I don’t think, because I’m pretty sure Johnny Guitar was no barnburner at the box office! This was just a movie Corman wanted to make because he liked the idea of two ladies wrestling and shooting at one another, maybe!
Beverly Garland, who I think was Roger’s girlfriend at that time, plays the sheriff’s wife, and the sheriff is played by Joe Dante regular William "Innerspace" Schallert, back when he was younger but looked the same! Ha ha! Anyway, he gets bumped off by a curtain rifle pretty quickly, and Beverly must pin on the silver star and take vengeance! Her main antagonist is Alison Hayes, the fifty foot woman herself, who keeps sycophantic ponyboy-cum-moron Jonathan "Carnival Rock" Haze as her assistant and literal bottle washer as she attempts to buy up all the local real estate she can get in advance of the railroad coming through town!
Haze is sent to Tombstone (where else, ha ha!) to hire a gunslinger that can take care of the formidable new ladysheriff, and he comes back with John Ireland, well known for his work in The House of Seven Corpses and Satan’s Cheerleaders! Well, even though Bill Schallert is not yet cold up in Boot Hill (yes, their graveyard is really called that), Sheriff Bev likes what she sees, and the feeling is mutual! Of course, Ireland starts to feel a bit conflicted about his assignment, but on the other hand, the fifty foot woman is offering all manner of persuasion, and in all sorts of coin!
Just about everyone in town ends up getting shot, ha ha! There’s not much of a town left by the time Sheriff Bev canters her way out past the bodies of Corman stock players that are stacked like cordwood along the roadside! Even the great Dick "Sorority Girl" Miller, playing a cheery Pony Express rider, is shot in the back by the evil fifty foot woman! Bruno "Attack of the Giant Leeches" Ve Sota is plugged too, and so is Jonathan Haze!
The movie’s very similar to Apache Woman in its circular pacing and the way it seems to be the same scene playing over and over again for great stretches! It's also really similar in plot to Blazing Saddles, ha ha! But it has a certain conviction, and then there’s that great cast! All the players are pretty good, and Beverly Garland especially so, I thought! Fred West’s colour photography is a bit dim – no Floyd Crosby, he! – but that’s probably because it rained for the entire shoot, so they say!
Altogether, I enjoyed the picture, but not as much as some other Corman joints I’ve seen! I give it two of Dick Miller’s shoulderbags! (He rode for two weeks and that’s all he was carrying? Ha ha!)