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Film / Day of the Evil Gun

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Day of the Evil Gun is a 1968 film Western starring Glenn Ford, Arthur Kennedy, and Dean Jagger. It was directed by Jerry Thorpe.

Former gunslinger Lorn Warfield (Ford) returns home after three years absence to find his ranch in ruins and learns that his wife and children were abducted by an Apache raiding party. Though he has renounced violence, he now takes up his gun again and does in search of his family. Unwillingly, he accepts the help of his neighbour Owen Forbes (Kennedy) on his quest. Complicating matters, Forbes is engaged to Warfield's wife, who believed her husband was dead. Along the way, they run into Mexican bandits, army deserters and Apaches.

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Tropes:

  • Agony of the Feet: When Warfield tries to walk away from Forbes at the end of the film, Forbes shoots him the ankle with a shotgun.
  • Army Scout: One of Addis' band of Dangerous Deserters is an Indian scout whom he sends to negotiate with the Apaches. The Apaches send back his body.
  • Bandito: The Faux Affably Evil Jose Luis Gomez de la Tierra y Cordoba DeLeon leads a bandito gang who deal with the Apaches, including buying slaves of them.
  • Bookends: Starts and ends with an unarmed Lorn Warfield attempting to walk away from someone who is trying to goad him into a gunfight.
  • Circling Vultures: Buzzards start circling above Warfield and Forbes after the Apache stake them out in the desert to die. They soon start landing for a closer look.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Warfield and Forbes enter a deserted Mormon settlement, where they encounter a detachment of U.S. Cavalry led by "Captain" Jefferson Addis. However, all is not what it seems. It turns out that Addis, who is actually a corporal, and the rest killed the real captain so that they could trade two wagons full of weapons and ammunition to the Apaches in return for an army payroll the latter recently captured.
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  • Faux Affably Evil: Bandito leader Jose Luis Gomez de la Tierra y Cordoba DeLeon likes to play the Spanish grandee. While he is always impeccably dressed and unfailingly polite, he is also utterly ruthless and has no issues with dealing in slaves or leaving someone staked out in the desert to die a slow agonizing death.
  • Frontier Doctor: Warfield and Forbes arrive in a small town where they are hoping to resupply and gather intelligence about the location of the Apache camp. However, they town is in in the the grip of a cholera outbreak. The town doctor is run off his feet not only attending to the sick, but burning the homes and possessions of those who have died.
  • Ghost Town: Warfield and Forbes enter the deserted Mormon settlement of Obed, where they encounter a detachment of U.S. Cavalry led by "Captain" Jefferson Addis, who turn out to actually be a band of Dangerous Deserters.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: Warfield gets Noble to drop his Obfuscating Insanity by starting a fire under his wagon and not allowing him to move it until he spills what he knows about the Apache. Later, Forbes uses an almost identical tactic against the storekeeper in the cholera town: soaking his store in kerosene and threatening to drop a lit match unless he he tells him where the Apache camp is.
  • Knows the Ropes: When they are being pursued on horseback by the Apache, one brave lassos the Winchester out of Warfield's saddle boot, while another lassos his revolver out of his hand.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Warfield uses a kerosene lantern as an improvised Molotov cocktail to set fire to ammo boxes in the Apache camp.
  • My Greatest Failure: Forbes eventually reveals that the reason he is hellbent on accompanying Warfield on his quest to rescue Angie and her children, despite Warfield not wanting him there, is beacuse he was on his way to see Angie on the day she was taken and, when he saw the Apaches attacking the ranch, he hid in a ravine and watched as the Apaches captured Angie and the two girls and rode off. Even though he knows he could not have saved them, and trying to do so would almost certainly have got him killed, the guilt of his inaction haunts him.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Indian trader Jimmy Noble feigns insanity as the Indians will not kill a crazy person.
  • Overly Long Name: Jose Luis Gomez de la Tierra y Cordoba DeLeon
  • The Plague: Warfield and Forbes arrive in a small frontier town where they are hoping to resupply, only to find it is gripped by a cholera outbreak.
  • Powder Trail: Addis uses a powder trail to blow up one of the two wagons of ammunition.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Lorn Warfield is this at the start of the movie. Learning his wife and children have been taken by the Apaches forces him to strap on his guns once more.
  • Revealing Reflection: Warfield becomes aware that Forbes is following him when he is shaving, using the still water of the waterhole as a mirror, and sees Forbes on the ridge behind him in the reflection.
  • Sawn-Off Shotgun: "Captain" Jefferson Addis' preferred weapon is a single barrel sawn-off shotgun. After killing him, Forbes takes the gun for himself.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Addis sends his Indian scout to negotiate withe the Apaches to exchange the stolen payroll for the two wagons of ammo. The Apaches respond by sending back the scout's body.
  • Talkative Loon: This is the act Jimmy Noble puts on as part of his Obfuscating Insanity: aimlessly rambling and randomly repeating and pluralizing certain words.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Warfield and Forbes can barely tolerate each other, but have to work together in order to rescue Angie, the woman they both love.
  • Unwilling Suspension: After being captured by the Apaches, Warfield and Forbes are strung up by their wrists in the Bandito camp.
  • Villainous Rescue: The Apaches stake Warfield and Forbes out in the desert to die. Just as the Circling Vultures start landing to peck at them, the Bandito leader Jose Luis Gomez de la Tierra y Cordoba DeLeon arrives and drives off the buzzards: offering to free them in exchange for leading him to the money they claim to have buried.
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