6.1/10
419
12 user 7 critic

Gun for a Coward (1956)

After the death of a rancher his three sons run the ranch but one of them is seen as a coward because of his reluctance to gunfight.

Director:

Abner Biberman
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Fred MacMurray ... Will Keough
Jeffrey Hunter ... Bless Keough
Janice Rule ... Aud Niven
Chill Wills ... Loving
Dean Stockwell ... Hade Keough
Josephine Hutchinson ... Mrs. Keough
Betty Lynn ... Claire
Iron Eyes Cody ... Chief
Bob Hoy ... Danny (as Robert Hoy)
Jane Howard Jane Howard ... Marie
Marjorie Stapp ... Rose
John Larch ... Stringer
Paul Birch ... Andy Niven
Bob Steele ... Durkee
Frances Morris ... Mrs. Anderson
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Storyline

A young cowboy, whose dedication to the principles of peace and reason has earned him a reputation for cowardice, overcomes his psychological aversion to violence after his elder brother unjustly censures him for not joining in a foolhardy gunfight in which their youngest brother is killed. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Challenge one brother...you answer to all! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 April 1957 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Moonbrand See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,000,000
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the headstone the mother died at 52 or 53, only a few years older than Fred MacMurray when he starred in this film. See more »

Quotes

The Preacher: The Good Book speaks a lot of words at a time like this. But I don't think Harry Keough knew too many of them. He wasn't old enough...or calmed enough.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Broadway by Light (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

 
You won your way, what difference does it make?
17 November 2011 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Gun for a Coward is directed by Abner Biberman and written by R. Wright Campbell. It stars Fred MacMurray, Jeffrey Hunter, Janice Rule, Chill Wills, Dean Stockwell and Josephine Hutchinson. Out of Universal International Pictures, film is a CinemaScope production in Eastman Color, with photography by George Robinson and music by Joseph Gershenson.

Three brothers must contend with big personal differences whilst also trying to see off a band of cattle rustlers who are pillaging from their herd.

But you don't cover me with your shadow.

So many good things involved with this production it feels unfair to label it as dull, but dull is ultimately how it ends up being after film has run its course. The cast assembled is a strong one, the dialogue is sharp and well written, and the location photography out of Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is most pleasing. Prolific Western scorer Gershenson also produces a highly effective score, very reflective of the characters' stuttering emotions. But with a running time of almost 90 minutes the makers have over stretched the family feud premise by having too many periods of story inactivity. Biggest problem of all is that the coward of the title, Bless' (Hunter) back story is never fully formed, adding little snippets here and there doesn't do it justice. For instance: it's only late in the day that we find his reputation is tarnished outside of his family, the whole damn town are down on him. A better director than jobber for hire Biberman would surely have got more from this tortured character axis.

Stockwell and Hunter are not the best of actors all told, but they fit right into the roles of two brothers made of different stuff. Stockwell does a good turn as the young and fearless one, and Hunter as the middle brother of the three effectively conveys the psychological pangs that sting him during the plot. The elder brother is played by MacMurray, who offers up a weary surrogate father performance for this fatherless family. It's the death of the father that is the catalyst for Hunter's problems. While Hutchinson adds a bit of class as the fretful mother and Wills is always good value for money. Rule gets the short straw from the screenplay, in what is a critical (two fold) role, she isn't asked to do anything other than look pretty and say soothing words to tortured Bless. The action is competently constructed, though the art of throwing a convincing punch is sadly missing here. And the ending, whilst being predictable (no shades of the far superior Saddle the Wind here), has enough warmth about it for those not in need of blackness in their Western viewings.

By definition it is very much a B movie in the truest sense of the term, but there is good in the production, even if it is undone by slackness elsewhere. 5.5/10


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