A town marshal, Matt Morgan (Kirk Douglas) finds out about the rape and murder of his Native American wife and finds a distinctive horse saddle belonging to one of the killers, before beginning his quest for justice. One of the killers, however, turns out to be the son of Craig Belden (Anthony Quinn), the marshal’s friend and cattle baron in the town of Gun Hill. Last Train From Gun Hill is one of the finer western releases of the late 1950’s and more than worthy of a watch.
Director: John Sturges
Writers: Les Crutchfield
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Carolyn Jones
Gaining a wealth of inspiration from pictures such as 3:10 to Yuma, released just a couple of years prior in 1957, Last Train from Gun Hill decided to take yet another wander down the classic path of revenge and suspense in this Kirk Douglas led release, written by Les Crutchfield and directed by John Sturges. The story is certainly one that has been told before and will be told again, but with its own original and unique spin on things, Last Train From Gun Hill stands up as being one of the finest western’s of its era.
One of the major strengths, if not the greatest strength, would have to be the cinematography presented throughout the modest ninety-five minute runtime. Each scene was captured beautifully with the costume and set design being equally as authentic and eye-catching at the same time. This flick is worth a watch just for anyone hoping to take a trip down memory lane and witness the old west in its full glory. It’s worth noting that the filmmakers opted to use Old Tucson, Arizona as the filming location.
It must be said, however, that the action in this one was sparse in nature, with most of the movie being littered with psychological undertones and moral decisions that the key characters were faced with. With that being said, the action was brazen, brutal and very effective when it did occur, despite not being as frequent as some would prefer.
In terms of the cast, Kirk Douglas adopted the role of Marshal Matt Morgan, while Anthony Quinn gave primary support in his role as Craig Belden. The pair had more than enough chemistry to work well together, which isn’t surprising considering the pair had previously starred in Ulysses (1954) and Lust for Life (1956) together. Elsewhere, Carolyn Jones was given a surprisingly key role as Linda, the love interest of Anthony Quinn’s character – her performance was key to the film being as successful as it was.
For me, Last Train From Gun Hill may not quite be on the same level of The Searchers (1956) but it’s extremely close and at the same time has forced me into scanning the internet for more Kirk Douglas led western releases. I’d certainly encourage any fan of film in general to source this one and give it a viewing.
“I’ve got two warrants, and I’m gonna serve them.”
Marshal Matt Morgan – Last Train from Gun Hill