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Film / The Gatling Gun

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The Gatling Gun is a Western shot in 1969 in New Mexico. The final film of director Robert Gordon, it was not released until 1971. It stars Robert Fuller, Guy Stockwell, Woody Strode, Patrick Wayne, Pat Buttram, and John Carradine.

Lured by Apache gold, two cavalry troopers desert their post, killing some of their fellow troopers in order to steal a Gatling Gun. The devious two use a pacifist pastor to bring the weapon across the country. A pursuing cavalry patrol kills one of the deserters and captures the other, however the recovered weapon has been made inoperable. The Apaches, under their chief Two Knife, relentlessly attack the patrol in order to get the Gatling Gun, or "King Gun" as they call it, to use against the soldiers.


  • Actual Pacifist: Reverend Harper believes that the Gatling gun is too terrible a weapon for anyone to possess, and wants to destroy it so that neither the cavalry or the Indians can use it. He dies trying to negotiate with Two Knives, whom he regards as a friend.
  • Army Scout: Runner is an army scout accompanying Lt. Malcolm and his cavalry patrol as they attempt to return the stolen gun to the fort.
  • Arrows on Fire: The Apaches pepper the troopers with flaming arrows multiple times; including setting fire to the wagon that Sneed is tied to.
  • Camp Cook: Tin Pot is the Bolland's ranch cook, and is a dab hand with mechanical contrivances.
  • Cat Fight: When The Mole Leona tries to flee the camp, Martha chases after her and catches her. The two women tumble to ground: rolling over and over, hair pulling and wrestling.
  • Cigar-Fuse Lighting: Lt. Malcolm has makeshift black grenades constructed out of gunpowder and bean tins. Malcolm, Runner, Tin Pot, Jim and Bolland throw them into the Apache camp: using Bolland's cigars to light them.
  • Dangerous Deserter: Pvt. Sneed and his co-conspirator desert from the US Cavalry and steal a Gatling gun, planning to sell it to the Apache renegades in exchange for a small fortune in Zuni gold.
  • Designated Girl Fight: After Leona is exposed as The Mole, it is Martha who runs her down and tackles her to the ground where they get into a Cat Fight.
  • Dwindling Party: Lt. Malcolm starts off with a squad of ten cavalry troopers, plus Runner the Army Scout, the prisoner Sneed, and Reverend Harper and his stepdaughter Leona. He loses several men to the Apaches before rescuing the civilians Luke, Jim and Martha Boland, and Tin Pot. By the end of the film, the only ones left alive are Lt. Malcolm, Runner, Martha and Tin Pot.
  • Explosive Stupidity: Sneed's fellow deserter stashes half the dynamite that was supposed to be used to bury the Gatling gun in the mine inside his tunic. This results in him exploding when he gets shot by the pursuing cavalry patrol.
  • Gatling Good: As the title suggests, the Gatling gun plays a major role in the film. The troopers don't get the gun working until the end of the film, but it turns the tide of the battle and allows them to wipe out an entire Apache war party.
  • Hidden Depths: Tin Pot appears to be the half-baked Camp Cook, but then demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and operation of the Gatling gun, and shows himself to be quite the Mr. Fixit.
  • Man on Fire: The Apaches capture one of the sentries and tie him to a tree before setting him alight in an effort to draw the troopers out from cover. Lt. Malcolm puts a bullet through his brain.
  • Mercy Kill: Lt. Malcolm shoots one of his men through the head after the Apaches turn him into a Man on Fire.
  • The Mole: Leona is secretly in league with Two Knives and steals the firing pin from the Gatling gun to render it inoperable.
  • Mr. Fixit: Tin Pot has real talent for mechanical contrivances, and is able to file down a railroad spike to juryrig a firing pin for the Gatling gun. However, it breaks after one firing because he has no means of tempering it.
  • Murder by Mistake: Two Knives orders one of his braves to shoot Martha while she is in a Cat Fight with The Mole Leona. The brave misses and kills Leona. An unimpressed Two Knives draws his own rifle and shoots him.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Sneed escapes from the cavalry patrol, and runs to Two Knives' camp, but it is not greeted with open arms. Believing Sneed had deliberately deceived him, Two Knives has him captured, tortured and finally killed.
  • Weapon Title
  • You Have Failed Me: Two Knives orders one of his men to shoot Martha while she is in a Cat Fight with Leona. The warrior misses and kills Leona. Two Knives turns to him and casually shoots him.