Shoot Out

SHOOT OUT (1971) dir – Henry Hathaway

The creative team behind True Grit – director Henry Hathaway, producer Hal B. Wallis, and screenwriter Marguerite Roberts reunite for another western. Gregory Peck plays an outlaw who’s just been released from a seven year prison stretch. His plan is to serve up some revenge to the bushwacking partner (James Gregory) who put him there. Instead he gets saddled with a seven year old little girl (Dawn Lyn) left for him by a former female companion.

The film’s pretty mediocre (I tried watching it once before on the western channel and didn’t make it to the finish). A secondary plot of Peck and little Lyn being shadowed by a pack of prairie scum (Robert F. Lyons, Susan Tyrrell, John Davis Chandler, and Pepe Serna) hired by Gregory doesn’t work due to Lyons awful overacting (a regular feature of a Robert F. Lyons performance back then. Just check out his unhinged emoting in Pendulum and the otherwise excellent Dealin. One can’t help but think of what Susan Tyrrell thought of Lyons carrying on). However, this time screening the film with a great 35mm print, the film eventually took hold. Mostly due to the growing relationship between tall grizzled Peck and short smiling Lyn. While Hathaway’s attempts to make the film closer to a rougher, more violent seventies western doesn’t really work, it does make it different from other horsing around Hathaway romps like The Sons of Katie Elder and Five Card Stud (and towards the end a surprising dose of children in violent jeopardy, which is always a welcome addition to any film). The most interesting part of the picture is how it predates Peter Bogdonovich’s Paper Moon by three years. In both movies a shady man is left, against his will, in charge of the daughter of a deceased former flame who he may or may not be the father. Nothing special, but by the time it was over, I enjoyed it and was glad I saw it. Hathaway’s next film after this (his last film) would be the almost never shown blaxploitation flick Super Dude.

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