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One of the finest, beautifully honed films ever made

Take an even cursory glance at the credits behind Fox’s 1950 The Gunfighter, and any cinephile worth their salt will know they’re in for a treat.

Directed by Henry King.

Mr. King began his career as an actor 107 years ago, and did a bit of directing in 1915. While most folks may not know his early credits, things get interesting in 1926 with The Winning of Barbara Worth, for Goldwyn, a Ronald Colman starrer, with a young actor named Cooper.

He became a staple at Fox – State Fair (1933), Ramona and Lloyds of London (1936), Seventh Heaven (1937), In Old Chicago and Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938). Stanley and Livingston, and Jesse James, in Technicolor (1939), Maryland and Chad Hanna, both in Technicolor (1940), A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941), The Black Swan, more Technicolor (1942), The Song of Bernadette (1943), Wilson, Technicolor (1944), A Bell for Adano (1945), Margie, Technicolor (1946), Captain from Castile, Technicolor (1947, Twelve O’Clock High, with Gregory Peck (1949), and The Gunfighter, Mr. Peck again, (1950).

Produced by Nunnally Johnson – best to look him up, if you don’t know his work.

Score composed by Alfred Newman.

Photographed by Arthur Miller. His career goes back even further an Mr. King – 1909.

Among the films that might come to mind – Bright Eyes (1934), The Little Princess, The Rains Came and Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), The Blue Bird, Johnny Apollo, and The Mark of Zorro (1940), Tobacco Road and How Green Was My Valley (1941), This Above All and The Ox-Bow Incident (1942), The Song of Bernadette (1943), Lifeboat and The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), Dragonwyck, Anna and the King of Siam, and The Razor’s Edge (1946), Gentlemen’s Agreement (1947), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), and Whirlpool and The Gunfighter in 1950.

Barbara McLean began working in a lab in New Jersey, and began cutting in 1929. Among her works, The House of Rothschild, Clive of India, Lloyds of London, Seventh Heaven, In Old Chicago, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Suez, Jesse James, Stanley and Livingston, The Rains Came, Maryland, Down Argentine Way, Chad Hanna, Tobacco Road, A Yank in the R.A.F., The Black Swan, Hello Frisco, Hello, The Song of Bernadette, Winged Victory, Wilson, A Bell for Adano, Three Little Girls in Blue, Margie, Nightmare Alley, Captain from Castile, Twelve O’Clock High, All About Eve…

and The Gunfighter.

That’s a long way ’round telling you that The Gunfighter, a little 85 minute, black & white western, used the A Team.

I’m thrilled to see it finally arrive in quality form, albeit from a duplicate negative, but the final result from Criterion is just fine. Rich deep blacks, organic grain. It’s all good.

I’ll use very few words here.

To my mind, it’s far more than one of the finest westerns ever produced. It’s one of the finest, beautifully honed films ever made.

For those who may have not have seen it, you’re in for a treat.

One of the most important releases of the year.

Image – 4.5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

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Robert Harris

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Robert Crawford

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Not just a great western, but a great film! My BD should be shipping shipped from Criterion this week.
 
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Dan Cooper

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I will pick this up in november at barnes and noble. This and sergeant york were my most anticipated releases of the year in a year full of big big releases. I have the columbia 4k classic collection, back to the future 4k collection, Alfred hitchcock 4k collection, Waterloo Bridge and the mortal storm blu rays to keep me busy until then.
 

Dan Cooper

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For image of 4.5, just curious what was it with image that dropped it down a little for you as compared to a 5 like sergeant york got? A duplicate negative sounds better to me than no negative as in sergeant York.
 

Robert Harris

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For image of 4.5, just curious what was it with image that dropped it down a little for you as compared to a 5 like sergeant york got? A duplicate negative sounds better to me than no negative as in sergeant York.
Shadow detail generally. Main and Ends and all dupes are now fifth generation.
 
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Randal Gist

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I just ordered this on the Criterion Flash-Sale this week. The Gunfighter is a great film. My DVD copy isn't bad, but Mr. Harris's review makes me doubly glad to be getting a major upgrade.
 

HawksFord

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I picked this up during the flash sale and we watched it last night. I'd seen it multiple times including just a few months ago, but it holds up well to multiple viewings. A great story and a great performance from Gregory Peck.
 

dpippel

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I watched The Gunfighter for the first time two days ago. What a great film! Peck and the entire cast are very, very good, and the unconventional story resonates. A worthy addition to my westerns library!
 

Adam Gregorich

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After being privately chastised by @Robert Harris for never having seen The Gunfighter - I finally had a rainy weekend where I was able to watch it. As Doug said it was a worthy addition to my westerns library. I really enjoyed it.
 

Robert Crawford

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After being privately chastised by @Robert Harris for never having seen The Gunfighter - I finally had a rainy weekend where I was able to watch it. As Doug said it was a worthy addition to my westerns library. I really enjoyed it.
A great job by RAH.:laugh: I'll be watching my Criterion Blu-ray again in the near future as I work myself through my all-time 100 favorite westerns. A senior moment as I already watched my Criterion Blu-ray again back in May. :rolleyes:
 
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