Shotgun Clay Hardin, a Deputy U.S. Marshal, is about to turn in his badge and take the job as the territory’s Indian commissioner until the notorious Ben Thompson slays the marshal when he tried to make an arrest. Clay turns his back on a white-collar job and his girl to pursue the gang. Picking up a bounty hunter and a beautiful half-breed woman along the way, the little band follows the trail into Apache land where the lawman discovers that the outlaws plan to sell repeating rifles to the Indians.
He wrote his name with bullets.
Shotgun is one of those special westerns, that in spite of having no ambitions, came out above average. Lesley Selander had great practice in doing westerns, from the days of Hopalong Cassidy and this is in my opinion his best. The story is about a sheriff searching for the man who killed his boss. Among other weapons he carries a sawed-off shotgun. He rescues Yvonne De Carlo and is joined by bounty hunter Zachary Scott. Part of the writing credits went to Rory Calhoun, an actor who made mostly westerns and one wonders why he did not take the main role for himself. In Brazil this film did quite well at the box office and had a good title “Escreveu seu nome a bala” (He wrote his name with bullets)
Some Unfinished Business
Shotgun is one of the best directorial efforts of Lesley Selander who has his name on about a gazillion B westerns, a large percentage of them the Hopalong Cassidy series. He brings a love of the genre to this ambitious Allied Artists films shot on location in Arizona with a fine trio of stars, Sterling Hayden, Yvonne DeCarlo, and Zachary Scott.
Guy Presscott should have left well enough alone because he decided to gun down marshal Lane Chandler on the street of his town. He also had his deputy Sterling Hayden in mind, but Hayden got one of Presscott’s henchmen instead. After that Presscott goes about his usual villainy which includes selling guns to the Apaches.
Presscott took on the first mission because he blamed Chandler and Hayden for a stretch in prison. He should have nailed Hayden when he had a chance because now Hayden has a mission, to avenge the killing of the man who had rescued him from outlaw life.
Along the way Hayden picks up as traveling companions mixed racial Yvonne DeCarlo and cynical bounty hunter Zachary Scott. It’s not a harmonious trio by any means. Scott has some really good lines in this film and gives one of his best screen performances.
The film has some beautiful Arizona scenery as it was shot in the desert country of Sedona. The final encounter with Hayden and Presscott features something I’ve never seen before or since in a western, a duel with shotguns. Really unique and original.
Shoot-Out At Medicine Bend