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Film / Shotgun (1955)

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Shotgun is a 1955 American Western film directed by Lesley Selander and starring Sterling Hayden, Yvonne De Carlo and Zachary Scott.

Ben Thompson, a vengeful outlaw just released from prison, ambushes and kills U.S. Marshal Mark Fletcher—one of the two men who arrested him—with a shotgun. However, he fails to kill Fletcher's partner, Deputy Marshal Clay Hardin. Hardin, who had been about to turn in his badge and accept the position Indian Commissioner for the territory, turns his back on his cushy new white collar job and his fiancee, and rides out in pursuit of Thompson and his gang. Along the way, he acquires a couple of companions in the form of ruthless Bounty Hunter Reb Carleton, and a beautiful half-breed woman named Abbey. Tracking Thompson into Apache territory, Hardin and his companions discover that Thompson is planning to sell repeating rifles to a band of Apache renegades.

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Not to be confused with the 1989 action film of the same name.

Tropes:

  • Animal Assassin: Delgadito's renegades leave Bentley tied with wet rawhide out in the desert. As the rawhide dries, it shrinks and drags Bentley closer to a stake that has a rattlesnake tethered to it.
  • Arms Dealer: Thompson has bought up a shipment of Winchester rifles which he is planning on selling to Delgadito and his Apache renegades for a huge profit and then disappear to California.
  • Badass Bystander: Ed and Al, the two guys manning the stage station, put up quite a fight against Thompson's henchmen Perez and Greybar. They very nearly win, but Thompson arrives and tips the odds.
  • Bounty Hunter: Reb Carleton is a ruthless bounty hunter after the price on Ben Thompson's head who teams up with Deputy Marshal Clay Hardin. Carleton prefers to dead to alive, and likes to shoot his targets In the Back whenever possible.
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  • Forceful Kiss: Clay grabs Abby and forcibly kisses Abby when the two of them are camped in the mountains. She initially resists, but then reciprocates.
  • Injun Country: Clay, Abby and Reb chase Thompson and his gang deep into Apache territory, where they are confronted by Delgadito and band of renegade warriors.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The climax features Hardin and Thompson fighting a duel on horseback using shotguns, with each of them having only one shot.
  • In the Back: Bounty Hunter Reb Carleton prefers not to give his targets an opportunity to shoot back.
    Clay Hardin: (disgusted) Don't you ever shoot a man in the front?
    Reb Carleton: Not if I've got a choice.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: Clay rides away from Reb and Abby, but then hears gunfire so turns back. By the time he arrives, Abby is gone and Reb is nailed to a tree by an Apache arrow through his chest. Clay goes to cut the arrow out, but Reb tells him to leave it. He knows he is dead either way, and says his death will be slower but less painful if the arrow remains in place. When Clay leaves to find Abby, Reb asks him to leave him a pistol 'in case the Apaches come back'. Clay hands him a revolver and walks away. As he does so, he hears the gun being cocked behind him followed by a single shot. Clay keeps going without turning around.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Clay catches Reb spying on Abby as she bathes in the river, and this leads a knockdown drag-out fistfight between the two men.
  • Pinned to the Wall: Reb gets nailed to tree trunk by an Apache arrow through his chest.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Thompson knocks out the elderly waiter with his shotgun butt when he sneaks into the saloon. Later he uses his pistol butt to knock out one of the men manning the stage station.
  • Reformed Criminal: Deputy Marshal Clay Hardin used to be an outlaw until being reformed by U.S. Marshal Mark Fletcher and becoming his deputy. When Fletcher is murdered, Hardin takes it very personally.
  • The Savage Indian: Zigzagged. Delgadito's Apaches are ruthless killers who excel at inflicting cruel deaths on their enemies (they leave Bentley to be killed by a rattlesnake and shoot Reb through the chest with an arrow, leaving him nailed to tree, because it will be more painful and take him longer to die). However, they are also established as renegades, and so not typical of their tribe, and are shown to have their own code of honour and to respect courage, regardless of who is demonstrating it.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Clay and Reb claim to be old friends, but acquaintances would seem a more accurate description. Reb's mercenary attitude and willingness to fight dirty grates hard on the far more honourable Clay.
  • U.S. Marshal: Opens with outlaw Ben Thompson arriving in town to kill the two men responsible for sending him to prison: US Marshal Mark Fletcher and his deputy Clay Hardin. He succeeds in murdering Fletcher, but Hardin survives and immediately rides out after Thompson and his gang, intent on bringing them to justice.
  • Weapon Title
  • Would Hit a Girl: Clay Hardin slaps Abby hard a couple of times after she helps Bentley try to kill him, before going back to deal with Bentley.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Bentley decides that killing U.S. Marshal Mark Fletcher was a mistake and has made things to hot for them, especially now that Deputy Marshal Clay Hardin is dogging their trail. He tells Ben Thompson that he is quitting their gunrunning scheme and heading out to California. Thompson politely lets him go, but then sends Delgadito and the renegades to kill him after he has left.
    Ben Thompson: When you know you're goin' to have to kill a man, Perez, it costs nothing to be polite.

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