The Gunfighter is a 1950 western film starring Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott, Millard Mitchell and Karl Malden. It was directed by Henry King.
Aging gunslinger, Jimmy Ringo, rides into a strange town where he's immediately recognized. As kids gather at the saloon windows to glimpse the killer and townsfolk gossip about his exploits, the town marshal tries to keep the peace. He wants Ringo out of town, but Ringo asks for a few hours' grace to see his sweetheart, whom he hasn't seen in more than eight years, and their son, whom he's never seen. Meanwhile, three angry cowboys are on his trail and the town's young hothead is scheming to see just how fast Jimmy is. Ringo wants to be left alone, to live with his family, maybe on a small ranch away from his reputation. But can he escape that reputation and find peace?
The Gunfighter contains examples of:
- The Barber: The film uses the barbershop first as a place for The Gunfighter Wannabe to learn that The Gunslinger has come into town. The barber then warns The Sheriff, allowing him to intervene.
- Be Careful What You Wish For
- Decoy Antagonist: The gunslingers who spend the film tracking Ringo are easily neutralized, without bloodshed. Ringo's more threatened by Hunt Bromley.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Being great with a gun doesn't lead to a life of luxury or fame, but to constant lonely wandering and infamy.
- Downer Ending
- Fake Shemp: Cinematographer Charles G. Clarke shot the title backgrounds using Gregory Peck's double.
- Fastest Gun in the West: Jimmy Ringo
- Genre Deconstruction: Of the Western. Considered one of the earliest.
- The Gunfighter Wannabe: Dealing with wannabes is a major theme of the film.
- The Gunslinger: Ringo is a Type D.
- Hope Spot: Ringo's gotten a chance to meet with his wife and the son he's never seen until now, and the town marshal has planned a quick getaway before the gunslingers hunting Ringo can get there. Unfortunately, Bromley's still smarting from his embarrassing takedown, and still desperate for a reputation as a gunslinger...
- In the Back
- Job Title
- Mis-blamed: In-universe, Ringo has been blamed for the deaths of people he'd never could have met.
- Quick Draw
- Retired Gunfighter: What Jimmy Ringo is trying to be.
- Retired Outlaw: The Gunfighter has two men who do this. One succeeds, the other fails. The one who succeeds becomes a town marshal.
- Revised Ending: In the original ending, Hunt Bromley was arrested by the sheriff, but studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck was enraged at this resolution, so Henry King and Nunnally Johnson rewrote the final scene.
- Right in Front of Me: Ringo discusses his reputation with a group of housewives, who don't realize who he is.
- Schoolmarm: The secret wife of the lead.
- Shrouded in Myth: Being "the fastest gun" is a terrible burden to bear.
- Young Gun: Hunt Bromley. Also a Glory Hound.