By the end of the 19th-Century the way of the old west was passing by. Towns and society were becoming more civilised and wanted to move with the times. They wanted better things for families and the future, as well as attract investment and business from the east. Death of a Gunfighter is a film about the small town of Cottonwood Springs in Texas moving on, and the removal of its ageing marshal who doesn't accept that the town is changing for the better and no longer wants the violent ways of the past. Richard Widmark plays marshal Frank Patch with a troubled past and an old fashioned way of dealing with things. His problem is that the townsfolk want him to go and he doesn't want to go.
After killing an irate husband and drunk Luke Mills, played by Jimmy Lydon, in self-defence, Marshal Frank Patch finds that the town's leaders consider that it's time for a change and they ask him to resign and hand in his badge. This Patch does not want to do as he feels that the town still needs him and his old fashioned law-enforcing ways. He also clearly remembers that when he first accepted the job of marshal the towns people told him that he could have the job for as long as he wanted. The town's leaders try every way possible to persuade marshal Frank Patch to leave peaceably but none of them seem to work. They have to come up with another way to get the lawman to leave town.
Richard Widmark gives an excellent performance as the town marshall and Claire Quintana, who plays his wife Lena, gives a good performance considering the small part she plays. For western fans or simply fans of a great, entertaining movie, Death of a Gunfighter is a memorable film and a must-see.
Film and Movie Information
Death of a Gunfighter was released by Universal Pictures in 1969 and was directed by Don Siegel. The prncipal stars were Richard Widmark, Lena Horne and Carroll O'Connor. The movie was filmed in Technicolor, in Tucson, Arizona, and California, USA.