Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)

94 mins | Western | July 1959

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Last Train from Harper's Junction , Last Train from Laredo , One Angry Day and Showdown at Gun Hill . The original motion picture story by Les Crutchfield, a television writer, was entitled Showdown , which was also an early working title for the film. According to a DV news item, the story was purchased by producer Hal Wallis in Mar 1954 as a possible starring vehicle for Burt Lancaster or Charlton Heston. Studio publicity noted that the film was patterned in some ways after Gunfight at the O.K. Corral , a 1957 Western which also was produced by Wallis, directed by John Sturges, photographed by Charles Lang, Jr. and starred Lancaster and Kirk Douglas (see above).
       Although a 4 Apr 1958 HR news item included newspaper columnist Lucius Beebe in the cast, his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, one week of location shooting took place near Tucson, AZ. The town of “Gun Hill” was created on the Paramount backlot, and additional shooting was done at the Monogram Ranch in Placerita Canyon, Newhall, CA.
       Studio records indicate that a title song was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster , and sung by Kitty White, but was ultimately dropped from the film. An 18 Apr 1958 item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that for the "European version" of the film, Ziva Rodann, who played "Catherine Morgan," would be "nude from the navel." In the assault scene, Catherine's ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Last Train from Harper's Junction , Last Train from Laredo , One Angry Day and Showdown at Gun Hill . The original motion picture story by Les Crutchfield, a television writer, was entitled Showdown , which was also an early working title for the film. According to a DV news item, the story was purchased by producer Hal Wallis in Mar 1954 as a possible starring vehicle for Burt Lancaster or Charlton Heston. Studio publicity noted that the film was patterned in some ways after Gunfight at the O.K. Corral , a 1957 Western which also was produced by Wallis, directed by John Sturges, photographed by Charles Lang, Jr. and starred Lancaster and Kirk Douglas (see above).
       Although a 4 Apr 1958 HR news item included newspaper columnist Lucius Beebe in the cast, his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, one week of location shooting took place near Tucson, AZ. The town of “Gun Hill” was created on the Paramount backlot, and additional shooting was done at the Monogram Ranch in Placerita Canyon, Newhall, CA.
       Studio records indicate that a title song was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster , and sung by Kitty White, but was ultimately dropped from the film. An 18 Apr 1958 item in HR 's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that for the "European version" of the film, Ziva Rodann, who played "Catherine Morgan," would be "nude from the navel." In the assault scene, Catherine's bare back is exposed, but the front of her body is not visible. "Rambling Reporter" also noted in Jan 1958 that Douglas was to receive a salary of $325,000 against ten percent of the gross.
       Var praised the cinematography of Lang, commenting, "Lang has one technique, opening on a background with a medium shot and then pulling back to bring in the scene's central character, that seems fresh and effective...None of this is conspicuously 'arty', but acts as an imperceptible aid in heightening tension and involvement." The film was reissued by Paramount in 1963. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Sep 1959
pp. 544-45, 560, 562.
Box Office
27 Apr 1959.
---
Cue
1 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
25 Mar 1954.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1956.
---
Daily Variety
15 Apr 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Apr 59
p. 11.
Filmfacts
1959
pp. 181-82.
Harrison's Reports
18 Apr 59
p. 62.
Hollywood Citizen-News
16 Jul 1959.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jan 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 1958
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1958
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1958
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 59
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1959
p. 2.
Los Angeles Examiner
25 May 1958.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
16 Jul 1959.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Jul 1959.
---
Motion Picture Daily
15 Apr 1959.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 59
p. 237.
New York Times
30 Jul 59
p. 31.
New Yorker
8 Aug 1959.
---
Newsweek
3 Aug 1959.
---
NYT Magazine
10 May 1959.
---
The Exhibitor
22 Apr 59
p. 4578.
Time
10 Aug 1959.
---
Variety
15 Apr 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Hal Wallis' production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir [and 2d unit dir]
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Scr
Contr to scr const
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
Cam asst
Cam loader
Cam mechanic
Gaffer
Best boy
Company grip
Grip
Elec
Generator op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop shop
Prop shop
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost
Ladies' cost
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Hair style supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod
Prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Casting dir
Casting
Outer casting
Casting dir secy
Scr supv
Transportation
Transportation
Livestock
Wrangler
Loc auditor
Staff shop
Pub
Craft serviceman
STAND INS
Double for Ziva Rodann
Double for Earl Holliman
Double for Brian Hutton
Double for Lars Henderson, Jr.
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Last Train from Harper's Junction
Last Train from Laredo
One Angry Day
Showdown at Gun Hill
Showdown
Release Date:
July 1959
Premiere Information:
Minneapolis, MN opening: 9 July 1959
Los Angeles opening: 15 July 1959
New York opening: 29 July 1959
Production Date:
31 March--21 May 1958
addl scenes 28 May--29 May 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Hal B. Wallis and Joseph H. Hazen
Copyright Date:
8 July 1958
Copyright Number:
LP13941
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
VistaVision Motion Picture High-Fidelity
Duration(in mins):
94
Length(in feet):
8,477
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19095
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

As Catherine Morgan, a full-blooded Indian, is returning from the reservation at which she was visiting her parents, she and her nine-year-old son, Petey, are chased by two men on horseback. Catherine lashes one of the men, Rick Belden, across the face with her whip, but Rick and his friend, Lee Smithers, succeed in capturing her when her buggy overturns. Petey escapes on Rick’s horse and rides into the town of Pawlee to get his father Matt, the town marshal. When they return, however, they discover that Catherine has been raped and murdered. The horse taken by Petey wears a distinctive saddle, which Matt recognizes as belonging to his old friend, Craig Belden. Meanwhile, at Belden’s huge ranch outside the town of Gun Hill, Belden is infuriated when Rick, who is his son, and Lee tell him that the saddle was stolen by horse thieves. Rick also jokes that the cut on his face came from a romantic encounter. Belden, who bullies Rick relentlessly in an effort to “make him a man,” orders him to retrieve the precious saddle. Deciding to question Belden about the saddle, Matt takes the train to Gun Hill and onboard meets cynical beauty Linda, who warns him that the town is controlled by Belden. Unknown to Matt, Linda is Belden’s mistress, but when she arrives in Gun Hill, she refuses to go to the ranch, instead remaining in town. Matt travels to the ranch, where Belden is delighted to see his old friend. Believing that Matt has caught the horse thieves who stole his saddle, Belden chats amiably, relating that after the death ... +


As Catherine Morgan, a full-blooded Indian, is returning from the reservation at which she was visiting her parents, she and her nine-year-old son, Petey, are chased by two men on horseback. Catherine lashes one of the men, Rick Belden, across the face with her whip, but Rick and his friend, Lee Smithers, succeed in capturing her when her buggy overturns. Petey escapes on Rick’s horse and rides into the town of Pawlee to get his father Matt, the town marshal. When they return, however, they discover that Catherine has been raped and murdered. The horse taken by Petey wears a distinctive saddle, which Matt recognizes as belonging to his old friend, Craig Belden. Meanwhile, at Belden’s huge ranch outside the town of Gun Hill, Belden is infuriated when Rick, who is his son, and Lee tell him that the saddle was stolen by horse thieves. Rick also jokes that the cut on his face came from a romantic encounter. Belden, who bullies Rick relentlessly in an effort to “make him a man,” orders him to retrieve the precious saddle. Deciding to question Belden about the saddle, Matt takes the train to Gun Hill and onboard meets cynical beauty Linda, who warns him that the town is controlled by Belden. Unknown to Matt, Linda is Belden’s mistress, but when she arrives in Gun Hill, she refuses to go to the ranch, instead remaining in town. Matt travels to the ranch, where Belden is delighted to see his old friend. Believing that Matt has caught the horse thieves who stole his saddle, Belden chats amiably, relating that after the death of his wife, he was left with only his son. Matt interrupts Belden to tell him about Catherine’s murder and upon questioning his friend, deduces that Rick has a cut on his face, and that he and Lee are responsible for the crime. Belden begs Matt not to arrest his son, but when Matt insists that Rick must pay, Belden then warns him that he “owns” the entire town, including the sheriff and town council. Matt again insists that he will be leaving on the last train from Gun Hill that night, and that both Rick and Lee will be in his custody. After Matt leaves to search the town for Rick, Belden orders Rick in from working the range and angrily confronts him. Although Rick attempts to justify his actions by pointing out that Belden himself has commented that there “ain’t nothing prettier than a Cherokee squaw,” Belden yells at his son for lying and killing his friend’s wife. Belden fires Lee and orders him to leave the ranch, even though he knows that the hot-tempered Lee will probably get drunk and go after the fast-drawing Matt. Insisting that he can take care of himself, Rick heads to town with foreman Beero and henchman Skag, although Belden warns him to stay away from Matt until he organizes the rest of the men and follows them. In Gun Hill, the townspeople are belligerent to Matt, who punches a man for saying that “hereabouts” they give a man a bounty for killing an Indian rather than arresting him. Linda is upset by the town’s animosity toward Matt, although she warns him to forget his ideals and leave before he is killed. After Linda informs him that Rick is at the neighboring saloon, Matt sneaks up to the building’s upper floor. There, he knocks out and captures Rick, then carries him outside. Unable to get any help from the cowardly sheriff, Bartlett, Matt carries the unconscious Rick to a hotel room, where he cuffs the younger man to the bed. When Belden and his men arrive in town, they learn of Rick’s predicament. Belden calls to Matt to turn his son loose, and when Matt refuses, the men shoot at him until Matt slides the bed in front of one of the windows and Rick screams at his father to cease firing. After the shooting stops, Belden and his men retreat to the Horseshoe Saloon, and find Linda there. Belden asks Linda why she did not go to the ranch upon her return to Gun Hill, and Linda reminds him that she was hospitalized because he had beaten her after Rick lied about her fidelity. Linda complains that he always takes Rick’s word over hers, and when Belden hesitates after Linda asks him to marry her, she storms out. At the hotel, Linda visits Matt, who asks her to sneak in a shotgun to him. Although she is developing feelings for Matt, Linda states that she is too selfish to help him, and returns to the Horseshoe. Linda questions Lee about the killing and, when he says that Catherine was “just another Indian squaw,” throws her drink in his face. The drunken Lee leaves, after which Belden goes to Matt’s room to talk face-to-face. Although Belden appears to be pleading honestly for his son’s life, Matt sees in a mirror that two of Belden's henchmen are sneaking down the hallway. Matt shoots them but refrains from killing Belden. Stating that they are now even, as Belden had saved his life long ago, Matt sends him on his way. Upset that no one will help Matt, Linda sneaks a shotgun into the hotel for him. Lee then sets fire to the back of the hotel, and while the men attempt to douse the blaze, Matt cuffs himself to Rick, then, with the shotgun planted under Rick’s chin, walks slowly out into the street. Belden orders his men not to shoot as Matt makes his way to the train station, but there, Lee challenges Matt to draw. Matt is forced to go for his gun when Lee draws and although Matt shoots the younger man, Lee’s bullet goes astray and kills Rick. After Matt un-cuffs himself from Rick’s body, Belden rushes to the station. Grief-stricken, Belden also challenges Matt to draw, and although Matt replies that the matter is settled, Belden insists. Matt outdraws and mortally wounds his friend, and just before dying, Belden tells him to raise Petey right. Matt then boards the train to Pawlee and exchanges a glance with Linda as she holds Belden’s lifeless body. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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