In 1961 producer Robert E Kent put together two low-budget Westerns released by United Artists and starring James Brown: Gun Fight, released in May, and Gun Street, which came out in November. Gun Street will be our next review. Bet you can’t wait.
I’m sorry to tell you right away that neither is very good. They are distinctly modest black & white affairs, cheaply staged with interior sets that a local amateur dramatics troupe might have been satisfied with and unconvincing studio ‘exteriors’ that remind us of those old 1940s programmers. There are plastic logs and fake snow. The writing and acting is also plodding and ponderous.
Kent was a prolific writer and producer of B-movies of all kinds and was involved in one way or another in a good number of Westerns. To be fair, there were some reasonably good ones among them, such as Utah Blaine, the screenplay of which he wrote from a Louis L’Amour novel, and he worked a good deal with George Montgomery on his less-than-brilliant but nevertheless solid oaters. But he also wrote and produced some clunkers, and I fear Gun Fight and Gun Street will both be found in the Clunker rack in DVD stores.
Gun Fight was written by Gerald Drayson Adams, so really the screenplay should have been better. But much of it is lurid melodrama. There’s a very vague attempt at a Cain-and-Abel theme but as Cain doesn’t kill Abel it doesn’t really come off.
Both pictures were photographed by Walter Stenge, later to become President of the ASC. Unfortunately, there is so little location shooting and the studio sets are so basic that Stenge hardly got a chance to shine. You get the impression that such shots of Wyoming as there are were intercut from footage of other movies.
If I had to choose, I’d go for Gun Fight over Gun Street, but to be brutally frank (and when, dear e-pards, am I anything else?), they both pretty well suck. Oh, that’s unkind. Let’s say they aren’t terribly good.