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Western films, from silent to today

The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953)

The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953) poster Randolph Scott is Jeff Travis, a spy for William Quantrill during the Civil War. He helps set up the raid on Lawrence, Kansas, then turns over a list of men Quantrill might want to take prisoner.

He never thought Quantrill would have all the men killed, or use the information he provided to rob and sack the town. So he quits Quantrill and joins the regular army.

Once the war ends, he heads West where, hopefully, no one has heard of Jeff Travis. He winds up in Prescott, Ariz., where the stage line owned by Jason Conroy and his pretty daughter Shelby (Joan Weldon) is trying to ship a fortune in gold without having it stolen.

That’s precisely what Jules Mourret (George Macready) and band of henchmen plan to do. The gold also makes an enticing target for Mexican bandit Degas (Alfonso Bedoya) and his gang.

Knowing how well Travis’ undercover skills worked back in Lawrence, Mourret recruits him to help with robbing the stages. Conroy, you see, has this nasty habit of hiding the gold where his men can’t find it.

Travis pretends to go along, then invites both gangs to rob the same stage, supposedly carrying $100,000 in freshly minted money. His hope: The two gangs will annihilate one another. But not everything goes as planned.

Review:

This marked Scott’s only Western shot in 3D, which explains all the torches thrown at the screen during the raid of Lawrence. From that point on, every fistfight and gun battle includes action flying straight at the viewer.

Unfortunately, this is also one of the weaker Scott Westerns. Bedoya is much more annoying than dastardly as the laughing Mexican bandit. And it takes Macready and his men forever to lose faith in Travis.

Only the climatic gunfight in a burning saloon stands out. Between that scene and the burning of Lawrence, one comes to the conclusion that fire must have looked impressive on screen in 1953’s version of 3D.

Claire Trevor is on hand as Travis’ longtime lady gambler girlfriend, who follows him to Prescott, is forever trying to entice him to head to California with her and becomes jealous when she meets pretty young Shelby Conroy.

Mourret’s gang includes Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine in early roles. In fact, this marked Borgnine’s first Western.

Alfonso Bedoya as Degas and Randolph Scott as Jeff Travis in The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953)Directed by:
Andre De Toth

Cast:
Randolph Scott … Jeff Travis
Claire Trevor … Josie Sullivan
Joan Weldon … Shelby Conroy
George Macready … Jules Mourret
Alfonso Bedoya … Degas
Lee Marvin … Dan Kurth
Ernest Borgnine … Bull Slater
Pierre Watkin … Jason Conroy
Joseph Vitale … Shorty
Clem Bevans … Jim Martin
James Millican … William Clarke Quantrill
Roscoe Ates …. Jake Hooper

Runtime: 83 min.

Memorable lines:

Hotel clerk, after Jeff Travis checks in under a false name: “He’s the 13th John Smith in this house now.”
Bar patron: “Well, I hope he ain’t superstitious.”

Josie Sullivan, trying to entice Travis to travel to California with her: “Don’t forget you’re a wanted man. And California is a lot farther from Louisiana than Arizona Territory.”
Jeff Travis: “A wanted man can’t be choosy. He’s stops where they let him and travels fast when they don’t.”

Hotel clerk to Josie Sullivan: “When there’s a stampede, ma’am, the safest place is up a tall tree.”

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