Film / Gunslinger
Cane Miro: I'll make you a deal -
I won't try to make you a bad woman, if you stop trying to make me a good man.
Rose Hood: You're not bad, you're just no good.
Cult bombshells Beverly Garland and Allison Hayes star in this low-budget 1956 panthecolor feminist Western directed by Roger Corman
When Marshal Hood of Oracle, Texas, is killed by a hired gunman, his quick-shooting widow, Rose (Garland), straps on his gun and star, puts on some pants, and aims to find out who did the hiring. She has her suspicions about the local saloon owner-slash-madam Erica Page, but doesn't have any proof. Still, Erica becomes worried about Rose interfering with her railroad real estate scheme, and sends for a hired gunman to take care of her.
The gunman, Cane Miro, hits it off with Rose soon after arriving in town, and begins trying to stretch the terms of his contract to avoid killing her. However, he has an old Civil War
grudge against the town's mayor, and Rose finds her hands full trying to keep the man alive and Cain out of trouble. Can Rose stop Erica's plan? Will Rose redeem Cane before it's too late?
for the Mystery Science Theater 3000
Gunslinger contains examples of the following tropes:
- Aborted Arc: The movie begins with Rose killing the two men who killed her husband but declaring she still has to settle with whoever hired themnote . That thread is dropped almost immediately due to the concerns for the railroad letter and Cane being brought into town.
- After Jake punches Erica & discloses to Rose & others in the building that Erica's the one setting the events in motion, Rose concludes Erica dispatched the men who killed her husband, which Jake confirms.
- Action Girl: Rose. She becomes the new marshal and easily handles her own in shootouts.
- Author Appeal: Roger Corman loves strong female protagonists, and regular cast member Beverly Garland continued to fill that role.
- Artistic License – History: Cane puts a lot of importance on the Battle of Lookout Mountain in his vendetta against the mayor, claiming that losing that battle lost the whole war. The actual battle was a relatively minor engagement in 1863, two full years before the end of the war, and after the decisive Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. The engagement didn't even involve the entirety of the armies on both sides, and was fought solely between Hooker's Union XI corps, and three Confederate brigades under Stevenson. Of course, it could be more because he lost his brothers there and blames Polk for it, but uses that idea as an excuse.
- Boom, Headshot: How Rose kills Cane. Though...
Joel: [As Rose shoots, his hat is knocked off and he slumps over.] Ohhh, shot him right in the hat.
- Captain Obvious: Cane, when drunk, tries to woo Erica by saying she has "brown eyes." Nothing significant about them, just "brown eyes."
Tom: [as Cane] And you got a neck.
- Dating Catwoman: The main storyline between Rose and Cane.
- Determined Widow: Rose. She avenges her husband personally and still aims to settle with whoever hired them.
- The Exile: Erica's saloon dancers are kicked out of the town after their ambush on Rose fails when Cane rides up.
- Failed a Spot Check: How many people in this film hide in plain sight? At one point, Rose and the Mayor discuss how they've hidden him from Cane at a safehouse, while not noticing him sitting on a horse, spying on them, just a few yards away in the center of the road.
Joel: Apparently they hadn't invented peripheral vision yet.
- In the beginning of the film, thanks to the poor camera angle, Rose slips into the sheriff's office while two criminals are waiting around the corner!
Joel: Uh, cue the horses!
Crow: [Laughs] Corman...
Joel: [as the criminals ride up to the office] Boy, she is slick. How'd she get by us?
- Gambit Roulette: Erica's real estate scheme amounts to gambling. She's buying up land in the hopes that a railroad being built through town will make her rich but there's no indication that she has insider knowledge (and if she does, it's obviously bad information) and there's no indication that she's trying to sway or fix the results. She's simply betting on a possible outcome.
- Hat Damage: Cane's hat is shot off in the final confrontation as he's shot in the head, killing him, though, when shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000, we get this little gem:
Joel: [As Cane slumps over dead] Oh, right in the hat.
- Hollywood Costuming: The dancers in Erica's saloon are clearly wearing pink nylon stockings. For those playing along at home, that's a fashion that didn't exist until the 1920s, made of material that didn't exist until 1935, dyed a color that would be far too expensive for anyone in that town to afford.
- Ignored Enamored Underling: Jake is in love with Erica while she couldn't care less about returning his feelings. She does, however, claim to love him in order to string him along and do her dirty work when he's capable of pulling it off.
- Job Title: Rose becomes the gun-slinging Marshal of her town.
- The Load: Mayor Polk. He talks about how bravely he fought in the war, but when the actual pressure is on, Cane's depiction of him as a stinking coward comes true and he needs Rose, Joshua, or his wife to protect him.
- Love Dodecahedron: Rose, Cane, Erica and Jake. For those keeping score, Rose and Erica love Cane, Cane loves the both of them, Jake loves Erica but Erica will never give him the time of day.
- Miles Gloriosus: Mayor Polk for constantly telling war stories that made him look like a hero, but he's revealed to be a complete coward the moment Cane catches up to him.
- Murder the Hypotenuse/You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Jake blows up at Erica, she kicks him out, threatening to kill him herself. He then tries to ambush and kill Cane. After a gunfight between the two men, Jake is killed and Erica claims Cane was acting in self-defense when Rose confronts them.
- Number Two for Brains: Jake can never live up to Erica's expectations.
Jake: Want me to do it?
Erica: Do what?
Jake: Kill 'em?
Erica: No, little man, you'd get caught and that would lead them right to me.note
- Reformed, but Not Tamed: Cane thinks of himself as this. He's not reformed either.
- Replacement Love Interest: How long is Marshal Hood dead before Cane comes along? Not even a month.
- Revenge Before Reason: Cane's obsession with Mayor Polk proves his undoing.
- Stuffed in the Fridge: Rose's husband is dead before the opening credits roll, and he only seemed to exist to motivate Rose to seek vengeance against his killers.
- Too Dumb to Live: Mayor Polk. The only reason Cane didn't kill him earlier in the film was because somebody was around to bail him out every time, and he continues to stay a sitting duck right up until he's finally killed.
Mayor Polk: I figured if [a jail cell] could keep a killer in, it could keep a killer out.
Tom Servo: Well he could shoot ya!
- Zany Scheme: The Mayor sees Erica's plot (buying up all the land in town in hopes that a new railroad will make property values skyrocket) as this. Particularly since it's not even guaranteed that the new railroad will run through Oracle. It won't.