DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
HD DVD / Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Sponsored Links
Search: For:
Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Gunfight at Dodge City (Blu-ray)
The Gunfight at Dodge City (Blu-ray)
Kino // Unrated // December 1, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted January 9, 2016 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
A major disappointment, The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959) opens with a very promising pre-titles scene but the remainder of the film is depressingly conventional, derivative, and clumsily scripted. The gravitas underrated star Joel McCrea projects as Bat Masterson is its only real asset.

The film unimaginatively seems derived from three major influences. The title recalls Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, a huge success released 12 months earlier, and which included Masterson (Kenneth Tobey), albeit it in a small role. The Dodge City setting immediately brings to mind the popular radio and TV program of Gunsmoke. (Curiously, on the TV show the setting is usually referred to as "Dodge," while in the movie it's always "Dodge City.") In The Gunfight at Dodge City, balding, clean-shaven actor John McIntire wears a gray wig and mustache to play Dodge's lone physician, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Gunsmoke's Doc Adams (Milburn Stone). (The IMDb adds "the climatic gunfight takes place in Dodge City and is strikingly similar to the opening in Gunsmoke" but that's incorrect. It's shot and cut together very differently.)

Finally, there is, of course, Bat Masterson, the TV series starring Gene Barry which had debuted on NBC the previous year. Oddly, however, where the TV series is vaguely accurate in depicting Masterson as a dandy, in the movie he's pretty much the usual world-weary Joel McCrea cowboy, with almost no fidelity to the historical Masterson.

A Kino Lorber title licensed from MGM, The Gunfight at Dodge City was originally a United Artists release from The Mirisch Company (one year before their The Magnificent Seven) and filmed in color and CinemaScope.


Half-sheet poster, which seems to be inviting moviegoers to exclaim "Hridlfatataat!"


The prologue opens around a campfire (much of the film is unconvincingly shot day-for-night) where simple-minded Billy (Wright King) asks Masterson what it's like to kill a man. In a myth-busting monologue, McCrea's Masterson grimly describes something akin to Charles Bronson's first act of vigilantism in Death Wish, concluding "and when it's over you step outside to throw up." So far, so good.

After the titles though it's all downhill. In Hays City, Kansas, Bat wants to buy back the saloon he lost to Ben Townsend (Walter Coy) in a card game. Minutes after his arrival, Masterson kills U.S. Cavalry sergeant Ernie King (Charles Horvath) in self-defense, and so high-tails it to Dodge where his brother, Ed (Harry Lauter), is the legally powerless town marshal. The current sheriff, whom Ed is running against in an upcoming election, is gunfighter and saloon owner Jim Regan (Don Haggerty), who wants Dodge to remain lawless because of the protection money he and his cronies rake in.

Bat offers to buy a half-interest in the Lady Gay Saloon, which has few customers since proprietress Lily's (Nancy Gates) husband was gunned down after refusing to pay Regan protection money. The renovated Lady Gay is instantly the hottest (and only honest) saloon in town, upsetting Regan's plans. Regan tells Bat that he'll be dead by sun-up.

Instead, Ed is shot in the back, murdered not by Regan's two henchmen entering the saloon from the back (one is played by Timothy Carey) but rather by gambler Dave Rudabaugh (Richard Anderson), apparently upset over the death of Ernie King, his cousin, with Rudabaugh shooting through a jarred-open window. However, Bat wrongly assumes Regan is responsible for the murder, a misunderstanding that drives the bulk of the plot, ultimately leading nowhere.

Bat decides to run for Sheriff in King's place, while more dead-end subplots are introduced: Billy needs a third act rescue after accidentally killing (offscreen) a Hays City deputy; without warning Rudabaugh tries to rape Lily in her bed even though the two characters are virtual strangers; Bat falls for his late brother's fiancée, Pauline (Julie Adams), daughter of the pious local minister (James Westerfield), but she's understandably resistant to Bat's interest. And why does Ben Townsend change the name of his saloon from "Bat Masterson's" to "Ben Thompson's?" Doesn't he know how to spell his own name?

McCrea is good but like the rest of the cast he's wasted. Julie Adams particularly is saddled with a nothing part, the kind of role in cheap Westerns that launched her career a decade earlier. Anderson, later Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man and its enduring spinoffs, at least gets to play a colorful character, but his actions lack explanation, let alone motive. Who is this guy?

Video & Audio

Filmed in CinemaScope with original prints by De Luxe, MGM's transfer of The Gunfight at Dodge City looks good, though director Joseph M. Newman (This Island Earth) uses the format unimaginatively and there are few close-ups. Frustratingly, more than a few Kino releases of MGM-licensed movies inexplicably have audio synch issues. Here, the audio seems to be about six frames (one-quarter of a second) ahead of the picture. Many viewers won't notice this, at least not most of the time, but it caught this reviewer's eye. Otherwise the 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio is okay. The disc is region A encoded. No alternate audio or subtitle options.

Extra Features

The lone supplement is a trailer for the film, also in high-def.

Parting Thoughts

One of Joel McCrea's last starring Westerns, The Gunfight at Dodge City is a major disappointment, for hardcore Western fans only. Rent It.



Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian and publisher-editor of World Cinema Paradise. His new documentary and latest audio commentary, for the British Film Institute's Blu-ray of Rashomon, and commentary track for Arrow Video's Battles without Honor and Humanity are newly available.

Find the lowest price for 'The Gunfight at Dodge City (Blu-ray)'
Popular Reviews
1. The Last Hunt
2. Bound - Signature Series
3. The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
4. The Day of the Jackal
5. Streets of Vengeance
6. The Tree of Life: Criterion Collection
7. Breaking In (Unrated Director's Cut)
8. Smashing Time
9. The Pyjama Girl Case
10. Schlock


Sponsored Links
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Sponsored Links
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use