Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 132: Shotgun
Here is another film that I’d say belongs in the “backbone” of the genre: simple, sturdy, and effective. Two elements make it stand out.
The first is Sterling Hayden. Such a unique leading man, there really is no presence like Hayden in films. He belongs most in the Noir world and that gives his Westerns a different flavor. Take for example the scene where he encounters one of his foes staked out next to a rattlesnake with a woman who pleads for his life. In any Glenn Ford Western, I’d know off the bat that the hero wouldn’t let the man die. But with Hayden as the lead, it’s not so sure. His natural grit and menace brings a true danger to the work.
The other stand out here is the director Lesley Selander. I’d never seen one of his films but after a little research, I see that he made a plethora of Westerns. Could Selander be an undiscovered Western craftsman? There are moments in Shotgun that hint to the great work of Boetticher and Anthony Mann. I look forward to studying more of his work in the near future.
As for the rest of the film, it loses some energy in the second half when it becomes unnecessarily complicated. However, I’d recommend any Western lover add this one to their list.
Watched on Tubi.