• Hour Of The Gun



    Released by: Twilight Time Releasing
    Released on: September 6th, 2017.
    Director: John Sturges
    Cast: James Garner, Jason Robards, Robert Ryan
    Year: 1967
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    The Movie:

    When it came to directing ‘classic’ Hollywood westerns, John Sturges was more than reliable – Escape From Fort Bravo, Bad Day At Black Rock, Gunfight At The O.K. Corral and of course The Magnificent Seven all show up on his resume. If 1967’s Hour Of The Gun doesn’t top his list of work in the genre, it’s close.

    The story starts with the infamous Gunfight At The O.K. Corral happening – remarkably quickly – as the opening credits play out. From here, we meet a cattle man named Ike Clanton (Robert Ryan). More than just a rancher, Ike’s got legitimate political aspirations. He’s also quite influential the in area and not above using that influence to get Wyatt Earp (James Garner), his two brothers Virgil (Frank Converse) and Morgan (Sam Melville) , and their hard drinking friend Doc Holliday (Jason Robards) brought up on charges. Earp’s lawyer, Horace Sullivan (Charles Aidman), sees through this and gets the charges dropped.

    With that behind them, Virgil decides that he’s going to run for town marshal he’s shot, the bullet crippling him for life. Morgan decides to replace, and is subsequently killed for his efforts. Understandably, this doesn’t sit well with Wyatt, who knows that Clanton was behind this. After he’s appointed marshal in his brothers’ stead, he uses the power his new badge affords him to, with Holliday’s help, put together a posse made of up Texas Jack Vermillion (William Windom), Turkey Joe Johnson (Lonny Chapman) and a few other similarly tough men to see that justice is served. With a substantial bounty placed on Clanton, Wyatt and his men set out to see that things are dealt with, permanently.

    A rough and tumble western that sees Garner cast strongly against type, Hour Of The Gun is a pretty interesting movie. While Wyatt Earp may have the law on his side, it’s clear by the time his posse is formed that he’s far more interested in bringing Clanton back dead, rather than alive. Anyone who should stand in his way will be – and is – dealt with similarly. Earp shoots a lot of people in this movie, most of them deserve it, but it’s made clear to the audience that this mission is a personal one. It’s interesting here that Holliday is cast as the angel on Earp’s shoulder rather than the devil. At this point in time, Doc is suffering from tuberculosis, he’s not long for this world. He shows more mercy than Earp, Robards is excellent in the part. In fact, he and Garner make a great team here. They have real chemistry. It’s fun to see Converse and Melville as the other two brothers Earp but they aren’t given as much to do. As to Robert Ryan as the villain in the film? He too is great. The acting in this picture is very good across the board.

    As to the production values, Sturges always had a knack for staging tense action scenes – we see this not just in his western films but also in picture like The Great Escape, Ice Station Zebra and Chino. That penchant helps Hour Of The Gun quite a bit, the action scenes that populate the film are its highlights. It’s also worth noting that the cinematography is good, lots of nice, wide shots help to set the mood, and the score from Jerry Goldsmith is also excellent.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Hour Of The Gun arrives on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world from Twilight Time in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed in the film’s original widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35.1. This is a decent boasting good detail, but some obvious edge enhancement works its way into the image throughout. Grain is there but never overpowering , though minor print damage is never too tough to spot – though it’s just small specks, no major scratches or emulsion marks or anything like that. Colors are reproduced quite nicely even if they might be just a slight bit faded in some scenes. This isn’t reference quality, but it’s decent and it is quite a bit better than the old MGM DVD release.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track with optional closed captioning offered up in English as well. This simple but effective track gets the job done. There’s decent depth and range throughout. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced.

    Extras on the disc as light, limited to the film’s original theatrical trailer, static menus and chapter selection. Inside the Blu-ray case, however, is the obligatory color insert booklet containing archival images and insightful liner notes from Twilight Time’s resident essayist Julie Kirgo.

    The Final Word:

    Hour Of The Gun is a good watch, a strong western highlighted by Garner and Robards’ great performances. Twilight Time’s Blu-ray release isn’t their best transfer and it is light on extras but it does offer a decent upgrade over the older DVD release from MGM.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!