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Western films, from silent to today

Shaughnessy (1996)

Shaughnessy (1996) DVD coverMatthew Settle plays Tom Shaughnessy, a promising boxer in New York who finds himself nursing a gunshot wound and on a train headed West after he refuses to throw a fight for his manager, a man named Morrisey.

He eventually winds up in a Kansas town called Haven, carrying the gold-plated rifle of a dying marshal he met along the way. He passes himself off as the marshal’s long-secret partner, then sets about reclaiming the badge the marshal once wore on his chest.

He accomplishes that, using the fists that served him so well back East. But he soon wonders what he’s gotten himself into. Haven is a strange town, full of mistrusting souls and bracing for an attack from 50 armed cowboys under the command of a cattle rancher whose son died in Haven the year before.

He does find a friend in livery owner George Carpenter and a potential love interest in a young Quaker girl named Dory. But even they turn on him when Marla, owner of the local saloon, gets proof that Shaughnessy isn’t who he claims to be.

Rating 3 out of 6Review:

Decent TV Western that’s different enough to be interesting and features a couple of plot twists you might not see coming.

Just don’t expect all the plot points to be resolved. This was clearly a TV movie serving as a pilot for a TV series that never came to be. So we never find out what happens with the love Shaughnessy left behind in New York or with the former manager who’s determined to have him hunted down.

This marked the film debut of Settle, who looks like a young Tom Cruise here. He’d go on to star in the acclaimed HBO series “Band of Brothers” and would become a regular on “Gossip Girl.” And, in 2005, he returned to the West in the mini-series “Into the West.”

And, in addition to Bo Hopkins as the dying sheriff, Stuart Whitman makes one of his final film appearances as the cattle boss who’s supposed to be such a threat to Haven, but has no plans whatsoever to cause harm to the town.

Directed by:
Michael Rhodes

Matthew Settle … Tommy Shaughnessy
Linda Kozlowski … Marla
Sarah Paulson … Dory
Tom Bower … Hank Drago
Bo Hopkins … Rip Bartlett
Cari Shayne … Megan
Michael Jai White … George Carpenter
Stuart Whitman … Vance Patterson
O’Neal Compton … Castle (school teacher)
Daragh O’Malley … Morrisey

Runtime: 95 min.

Memorable lines:

Shaughnessy: “Where am I?”
Doctor, sewing his wound: “Hell on earth. Or Sweet Trench, Kansas. Take your pick.”

Marla to Shaughnessy: “You so much as lick your lips, and I’ll have you cut in half. You angel-faced son-of-a-bitch. You killed Rip Barrett.”

Marla: “Does anybody know where he (Shaughnessy) was when it (a murder) happened?”
School teacher’s assistant: “Yes, I do. He was with me.”
Marla casts her a look.
School teacher’s assistant: “It’s not what you’re thinking.”
Marla: “Young lady, you’ll have to live out about five more lifetimes before you’ll be able to anticipate what I’m thinking.”

Marla of Shaughnessy: “He never worked with Rip.”
Hank Drago: “How do you know?”
Marla: “Boys, I’ve hung my lantern in a whole bunch of strange windows. I’ve been on my knees in places other than a church pew. But there’s one thing that I have never done. And that is to have any kind of romantic times with my very own big brother.”

Vance Patterson, talking about how he has no intention to revenge his son’s death: “If they’ve been hangin’ onto that lie for the better part of a year, then somebody’s been patting that lie on the head and keeping that lie real close to the fire so it’ll stay warm.”
Shaughnessy: “Why?”
Patterson: “Son, I’m just an old windbreak who moves beef from one place to another. I’m not an expert like you’d have to be in your line of work.”

Dory: “You look very manly.”
Shaughnessy, wearing a Stetson: “I feel like my head grew wings.”

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