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: Joel McCrea, Richard Anderson, Julie Adams, John McIntire, Nancy Gates
  • Director: Joseph M Newman
  • Screen Writer: Daniel B Ullman, Martin Goldsmith
  • 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 A Most Violent Year

    A Most Violent Year

    New York, 1981. An ambitious immigrant businessman tries to stay legit, despite stiff competition and violent threats from his ruthless, corrupt and often criminal rivals

  • Film4 Kingsman The Secret Service

    Kingsman: The Secret Service

    Kingsman agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) takes on a new rough-edged protégé (Taron Egerton) as tech mogul Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) enacts his plans for world domination

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Gearing up for the Glasgow Film Festival 2015

    The Glasgow Film Festival programme is announced and features Film4-backed films Second Coming and Catch Me Daddy plus much, much more, from 18th February to 1st March It¿s almost time once more for

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

    As Louise Osmond's inspirational documentary about an unlikely group of friends who breed themselves a racehorse is about to premiere at Sundance 2015, Catherine Bray catches up with the director for

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share