Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Guns in the Dark
I remember my dad watching Johnny Mack Brown movies on TV when I was a kid, but I hadn't seen one in more than 50 years. GUNS IN THE DARK is a fairly average B-Western, but it's based on a story by veteran Western pulpster E.B. Mann, so it has a few nice touches. Brown is a drifting cowpoke on his way back across the border from Mexico to Texas, but he and a friend stop in a cantina, get mixed up in a crooked poker game, and wind up in the middle of a shootout. Brown's pard winds up dead. Brown blames himself and takes off his guns, vowing never to use them again. But no sooner does he get back across the border than he meets a pretty girl who's got a range war on her hands, and of course Brown has to help her . . .
The way that moral dilemma plays out is actually sort of interesting. Brown makes a good lead and turns in a decent performance. Of course, mostly he just has to be charming, handsome, and athletic, all of which probably came natural to him since he was a star college football player at Alabama. Syd Saylor is the comedy relief sidekick, although most of the "comedy" he's involved in has to do with the fact that his character stutters.
Like FUGITIVE OF THE PLAINS, which I wrote about last week, GUNS IN THE DARK was directed by Sam Newfield, and he can fill more screen time with the characters galloping around aimlessly on horseback than any director I've ever seen. Occasionally there's a point to the lengthy chase scenes. In this case, it seems to be that Johnny Mack Brown can ride real good.
Overall I enjoyed this one despite a few weaknesses, and I wouldn't mind watching more of Johnny Mack Brown's movies. I don't think he'll ever be one of my favorite movie cowboys, though.