Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.
Week 164: Shootout in a One Dog Town (1974)
The only version available (or at least that I could find online) of the TV Movie of the Week is such a bad transfer that I could barely see any detail in the actors’ faces. Therefore, my assessment of this Burt Kennedy Western is limited. So much might have been conveyed with subtle gestures that are just not evident in the movie’s current state.
That being said, Shootout is an enjoyable Western that combines elements of Rio Bravo and High Noon. We have bad guys coming to town, a siege-like scenario, a faithful love interest, and an aging sidekick. This is the second time Kennedy worked with a Larry Cohen script (the first being Return of the Seven) and there are traces of Cohen’s signature throughout the picture, though it feels like Burt steered the story in a lighter direction. I’m detecting that as a trend in the director’s work. Some of it is effective and some isn’t.
When Jack Elam and Dub Taylor both stupidly clue the outlaws into the location of the money, their credibility as characers is totally undermined in service to the plot and a weak laugh. Elam bounces back and forth between grit, sentiment, and corny humor. His performance, which could have been great, ultimately feels uneven. Richard Crenna is the center of the picture but he just doesn’t have enough dramatic weight. I like the actor but he may have worked best in supporting roles.
Even in terrible shape, Burt Kenny’s movie of the week remains watchable and sometimes fun. The highlight is a final act trick with the bank vault.