Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Shaughnessy, the Iron Marshal

This TV movie is based on a fairly late novel by Louis L'Amour, and it adapts well to the screen. Tom Shaughnessy is an Irish boxer in New York who runs afoul of a local crime boss by not losing a bout where he was supposed to take a dive, and he winds up injured and fleeing New York in a railroad boxcar. He passes out and doesn't come to until the train is stopped at a siding in Kansas, where Shaughnessy promptly collapses again.

You know how these things work from there. Shaughnessy winds up becoming the marshal of a wild cowtown, makes assorted friends and enemies, and winds up facing down the bad guys, although he handles things more with his fists than with a gun.

Predictable or not, it makes for an entertaining yarn. Matthew Settle, who went on to a long-running role on GOSSIP GIRL, is a long way from New York's upper east side in this one but does a good job as Shaughnessy. There are plenty of good characters in the cast, such as Bo Hopkins, Stuart Whitman, John Hawkes, and John Carroll Lynch. The scenery's good and the action scenes are well done. The screenplay is by William Blinn, who was involved with a couple of Seventies icons: he wrote the screenplay for the original BRIAN'S SONG, and he created the series STARSKY AND HUTCH. I was a big fan of both, so it's always good to see Blinn's work. (He's also the author of a Western novel, A COLD DAY IN HELL, which is on my shelves but which I haven't read yet.)

The problem with SHAUGHNESSY, THE IRON MARSHAL is that it seems to have been the pilot for a TV series that didn't sell, and as such, some of the major plotlines are left unresolved. It's a shame they weren't able to at least make a couple more movies to wrap things up. But as it stands, this is a pretty enjoyable low-budget Western and certainly worth watching if you come across it.

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