SHOOT-OUT AT MEDICINE BEND

For Hicksflicks.com, Sept. 26, 2014

If you've seen "Blazing Saddles," you may recall the moment when someone says, "You'd do it for Randolph Scott," and the entire populace of the Old West town removes their hats and all say the name again in reverent unison. Then they sing boisterously like a church: "RANDOLPH SCOTT!"

It's a funny but honest tribute to an actor who went from mainstream mid-level stardom in the 1930s to starring exclusively in Westerns from the late '40s through the end of his career in 1962. Of Scott's more than 100 movies, 60 are Westerns, beginning with his first starring role in 1932.

"Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend" (1957, b/w) is a fairly routine Western in Scott's oeuvre in terms of plot but the film has some things going for it that set it apart.

Scott is a cavalry captain who has recently been discharged and he's traveling to his brother's ranch to settle down. With him are two cavalry pals.

But when they arrive, the brother is in the midst of a gun battle with Indians, and when defective ammunition fails him, the brother is killed. Scott and friends decide to find out where the ammunition came from.

 

    James Garner, left, Gordon Jones, Randolph Scott, ‘Shoot-Out.'

But on the road, they are robbed of everything they have, even their clothes. Fortunately, a group of pioneer Quakers rescues them and gives them clothing. So they masquerade as part of the faith, heading to the nearest town to look for the bad guys.

The mix of Old West clichés and religious beliefs is interesting, albeit unexplored. But it does make for some amusing comic exchanges early on.

What makes "Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend" really fun, however, is the cast.

Scott's main sidekick is played by James Garner, who exhibits that easygoing charm of his in just his third film (he landed the "Maverick" TV series a few months later).

And Scott's love interest is played by Angie Dickinson, while Dani Crayne is a saloon singer that catches Garner's eye. (It's interesting to note that Dickinson gets third billing and Crayne gets fourth, just above Garner.

This poster features Dani Crayne's name but Angie Dickinson is pictured next to Randolph Scott. The poster title is in French and below it is the Dutch title (both translate into English as ‘Justice Without Law').

Dickinson had made her film debut two years earlier and "Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend" was her ninth movie and her eighth Western. (Her first lead role would come with her next picture, Sam Fuller's "China Gate.")

Two familiar character actors also play prominent roles, James Craig as the main villain and Gordon Jones as the third member of Scott's cavalry trio — who makes a surprising choice at the end of the film.

"Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend" is available on home video for the first time from the manufacture-on-demand label Warner Archive.