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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Shaughnesy the Iron Marshall
Shaughnesy the Iron Marshall
Allumination Filmworks // Unrated // June 20, 2006
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Cornelius | posted July 17, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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You can't not like Louis L'Amour. It's simply impossible, like sneezing with your eyes open. If tales of the old west are your thing, then L'Amour is naturally at the top of your list.

"Louis L'Amour's Shaughnessy" is an adaptation of L'Amour's "The Iron Marshal" (hence the retitling as "Shaughnessy: The Iron Marshal" on the DVD cover) produced in 1996 as a movie-length pilot for a potential cowboy TV series. The pilot flopped and CBS passed on picking up the show, but they did air the movie as a standalone; it has since popped up from time to time on cable and now, finally, arrives on home video.

Matthew Settle ("Into the West") makes his screen debut as the title character, a snapping young immigrant scruffing it up with an Irish gang in post-Civil War New York. Following a bare knuckle boxing match gone bad and a bullet in the back, Shaughnessy finds himself on a train bound for Kansas. Further complications lead him eventually to the small town of Haven, Kansas, where he gets tangled in a few lies that lead him to become the new marshal - just in time to protect the townsfolk from a gang of cattle drivers headed for town to make trouble.

Once you get past the clumsy set-up - and Settle's less-than-convincing Irish accent - you're in for a real cowboy treat. Shaughnessy has no difficulty becoming the hard-nosed man of justice the town needs. There's one heck of a brawl between our derby-wearing Irishman and the villain who claims to still be marshal, and that's followed by a showdown with the ex-marshal's brothers that's bound to earn a few smiles. (A threat of "we won't forget this!" after the baddies have been duped - and then beat up - by Shaughnessy, the new marshal grins and replies, "Well, that's sorta why I did it.")

"Shaughnessy" is vintage L'Amour, with a relatively simple plot properly inflated with colorful characters, some slick cowboy action, a nice dose of human drama, and, in this case, a particularly involving conspiracy that Shaughnessy uncovers on his reluctant way to becoming a hero. It's not without its fair share of cheese, of course; one funeral scene, while moving, is overly corny in its dialogue, thus weakening the intended emotional effect.

The film wraps up with a few loose ends dangling, including an almost-sorta-kinda-cliffhanger featuring Shaughnessy's nemesis from New York, that reminds us once more that we're watching a failed pilot. But enough other ends are tied up nicely enough that "Shaughnessy" works fine on its own. For what it is, it's fun and thrilling, lighthearted and rip-roarin' and so very eager to please. L'Amour fans will be quite happy.

The DVD

Video


The original broadcast (1.33:1) image is on par with other mid-90s made-for-TV efforts, which is to say it's better off than older televised fare, but still quite soft and muted. It's passable, but not noteworthy.

Audio

The same can be said for the standard 2.0 stereo soundtrack, which gets by on broadcast quality but does nothing to impress. No subtitles are included.

Extras

Just trailers for "Lost," "See This Movie," and "Simian Line."

Final Thoughts

"Shaughnessy" is quite satisfying, if trapped within its low budget TV roots. Casual western fans may do fine just giving this one a rental. But I'll stamp this one as to anyone who grins just at the mention of L'Amour's name.
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