CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • U
  • Western
  • 1959
  • 81 mins

The Gunfight At Dodge City

The Gunfight At Dodge City

Synopsis

The legendary Bat Masterson has his hands full with some no-good frontier types. Western drama starring Joel McCrea

About

Bat Masterson lived many lives - gambler, journalist, buffalo hunter, lawman, soldier. He had a lot of names, too. Born Bartholomew Masterson in Quebec in 1853, he went under the alias of William Barclay Masterson - only close friends got to call him Bat. Best known for his time spent policing Tombstone with the Earp brothers - Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil - he died, not at the hands of a darn tootin' varmint but at his desk at 'The New York Morning Telegraph'. Famed for his courage and for his gunmanship, Bat Masterson died rather unspectacularly of a heart attack in 1921, aged 67.

Although history now suggests Masterson - and the rest of the Earp posse, for that matter - wasn't the white-hatted hero many have him painted as, Bat has frequently been championed on screen. Essayed by Gene Barry in the long-running TV series and Tom Sizemore in Lawrence Kasdan's disappointing Wyatt Earp biopic, The Gunfight At Dodge City sees the great lawman played by the legendary Joel McCrea. In truth, McCrea was a little too old to take on the role and it sometimes stretches credibility that such an arthritic old cove could possibly protect the good people of Dodge City. That said, Joseph M Newman's picture is an appropriately sedate affair with even the titular shoot-up not asking too much of the ageing lead.

Given the complexity of his character and the rich variety of his life, it's a shame that someone hasn't told the real Bat Masterson story. For the time being, we'll just have to make do with Newman's serviceable if unspectacular picture. Fans of 1950s western film are sure to enjoy the manly playing of McCrea and John McIntire (aka Christopher Hale in 'Wagon Train' and Clay Grainger in 'The Virginian') and there's also an earlier uncredited turn from Timothy Carey, the eccentric actor-writer-director-teacher who'd become a favourite of Stanley Kubrick (The Killing, Paths Of Glory). As for how eccentric Carey could be, the story about him inviting close friend John Cassavetes over to his house, asking him to don a padded suit and then setting his attack dogs on the great director tells you all you need to know.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Nancy Gates, John McIntire, Joel McCrea, Julie Adams, Richard Anderson
  • Director: Joseph M Newman
  • Screen Writer: Martin Goldsmith, Daniel B Ullman
  • Producer: Walter Mirisch
  • Photographer: Carl Guthrie

In a nutshell

Arguably the best Bat Masterson western but still a pretty ordinary horse opera. As for Joel McCrea, the pick of his twilight years westerns remains Sam Peckinpah's peerless Ride The High Country.

by Richard Luck

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Second Coming

    Debbie Tucker Green's drama follows a tight family unit navigating their way through family life as it breaks down in the aftermath of an unexplained pregnancy

  • Film4 Million Dollar Arm

    Million Dollar Arm

    Struggling sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) has the idea to launch a reality TV contest in India that offers contestants the chance to land a Major League Baseball contract

  • Film4 Half Nelson

    Half Nelson on Film4

    Ryan Gosling stars as an inner-city high school teacher struggling with a drug problem in Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's Oscar-nominated drama on Film4

  • Film4 Rust and Bone

    Rust And Bone on Film4

    Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts star in Jacques Audiard's romantic drama on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Film4 On-Air Refresh 2014: Daniel Chase

    This Tuesday, Film4 channel is unveiling a new set of cinematic on-air idents, and here on the blog we¿re taking you behind the scenes for a series of interviews with the creative team who¿ve worked o

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Fred Dekker on Night Of The Creeps

    As Film4 screens 80s comedy-horror Night Of The Creeps for the first time, writer/director Fred Dekker looks back on his filmmaking debut... Night Of The Creeps was written in three weeks. At least,