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A Time for Dying

A Time for Dying

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A Time for Dying, Naive farm boy Cass Bunning dreams of a bounty hunting career in nearby Silver City. He’s fast with the gun but Silver City isn’t a place for honest men.On the way to town Cass meets outlaw Billy Pimple and his gang. Nothing bad happens but Cass feels he will see Billy Pimple again. In town, Cass meets naive newcomer girl Nellie Winters off the stagecoach. She wants to waitress at Madam Mamie’s saloon and cat house. Revolted, Cass saves Nellie by running away with her and hiding in a hotel room. Arrested by the deputies, Cass and Nellie face the drunkard Judge Roy Bean. He has a bar set up in his courtroom and, in between cases, the audience and the judge wet their whistles. In order to save the town’s morality the judge marries Cass and Nellie. As gift, the newlyweds get a free hotel room with the judge’s compliments. While riding outside Silver City, Nellie and Cass unexpectedly run into Jesse James and his men. Worse still, Billy Pimple hasn’t forgotten about Cass either.

STARS: Audie Murphy, Richard Lapp, Anne Randall

72 min | Drama, Western | 1969 | Color


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Excellent but a bit of a downer
A Time for Dying, Audie Murphy makes his last appearance on screen as Jesse James, and an excellent Jesse James he is (I wish he had more screen time here!) But the film is much more than just an Audie Murphy vehicle. Victor Jory’s portrayal of the infamous sadistic judge Roy Bean is hard to forget. It is good to see Anne Randall in her pre-“Westworld” days. The little-known Richard Lapp is convincing as a farm boy and a bounty hunter wannabe Cass Bunning, and so is Bob Random as a neurotic wannabe bandit Billy Pimple who tries to establish himself as a bandit and as a gunfighter. Good actors’ work throughout the film!

Made on a low budget and only lasting 67 minutes, the film nevertheless provides food for thought. It makes you think about trying to use your fighting skills despite having no previous experience – and then your whole life slips out of your sweaty hands like a couple of pistols. You may be lucky once or twice, but not the third time. You want “fun” and you go into town with your wife that you saved from a whorehouse, even though you could take her straight to your ranch. As a result, you end up dead, and your wife ends up in the same whorehouse you saved her from. As I said, it is a bit of a downer but still an excellent western. Well done, Mr. Budd Boetticher!

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