The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968)

101 mins | Western, Comedy | 1968

Director:

Alan Rafkin

Producer:

Edward J. Montagne

Cinematographer:

Andrew Jackson

Editor:

Tony Martinelli

Production Designers:

Alexander Golitzen, Henry Larrecq

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

Due to the “phenomenal success” of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966, see entry), the 20 Apr 1966 Var stated that comedic actor Don Knotts had just signed a three-picture deal with Universal Pictures. The three films were set to include The Reluctant Astronaut (1967, see entry), a project titled I Am Still Alive, and The Shakiest Gun in the West, from a script by Vincent Bogart. Several months later, the 3 Sep 1966 LAT reported that screenwriters Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, who had written The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Reluctant Astronaut, had signed on to write the screenplay, as part of a recently negotiated five-picture deal with Universal. A 4 Oct 1966 DV item added that Knotts would aid in the writing process.
       On 18 Jan 1967, LAT listed The Shakiest Gun in the West as one of nineteen pictures Universal planned to begin filming in the next five months, and the 31 Jan 1967 DV stated that principal photography would begin on 20 Mar 1967. However, the hiring of director Alan Rafkin was not announced in DV until 6 Apr 1967. Shortly after, production commenced on 2 May 1967, according to the 5 May 1967 DV.
       During the shoot, a fire destroyed twelve acres of movie and television sets on Universal Studios’ backlot, including sets for The Shakiest Gun in the West. A 16 May 1967 LAT article reported that the blaze, which had originated of unknown causes in a barn ... More Less

Due to the “phenomenal success” of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966, see entry), the 20 Apr 1966 Var stated that comedic actor Don Knotts had just signed a three-picture deal with Universal Pictures. The three films were set to include The Reluctant Astronaut (1967, see entry), a project titled I Am Still Alive, and The Shakiest Gun in the West, from a script by Vincent Bogart. Several months later, the 3 Sep 1966 LAT reported that screenwriters Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, who had written The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Reluctant Astronaut, had signed on to write the screenplay, as part of a recently negotiated five-picture deal with Universal. A 4 Oct 1966 DV item added that Knotts would aid in the writing process.
       On 18 Jan 1967, LAT listed The Shakiest Gun in the West as one of nineteen pictures Universal planned to begin filming in the next five months, and the 31 Jan 1967 DV stated that principal photography would begin on 20 Mar 1967. However, the hiring of director Alan Rafkin was not announced in DV until 6 Apr 1967. Shortly after, production commenced on 2 May 1967, according to the 5 May 1967 DV.
       During the shoot, a fire destroyed twelve acres of movie and television sets on Universal Studios’ backlot, including sets for The Shakiest Gun in the West. A 16 May 1967 LAT article reported that the blaze, which had originated of unknown causes in a barn on the “Laramie Street” set, resulted in $1-million in damages.
       The picture was released regionally in spring 1968. On 11 Apr 1968, DV noted that Knotts had embarked on a promotional tour, and was travelling to Oklahoma City, OK, to make appearances. Two months later, the 12 Jun 1968 Var stated that the actor had been promoting the film in Atlanta, GA, the past two days. A Los Angeles, CA, opening took place on 26 Jun 1968. As mentioned in a positive review in the 25 Mar 1968 DV, the film was based on the 1948 picture, The Paleface, starring Bob Hope and Jane Russell (see entry). Although the original film was produced by Paramount Pictures, Universal’s parent company, MCA, Inc., owned “the old Paramount pix library.”
       According to a 27 Mar 1968 Var brief, the country music duo The Wilburn Brothers recorded the title song, “The Shakiest Gun in the West,” which was heard in the film and would be released as a single by Decca Records that week.
       DV and Var items published between 11 May 1967 and 2 Jun 1967 listed the following as cast members: Ceil Cabot; Rodd Redwing, who was set to portray “a wagon train scout” and also teach Knotts gun handling and horseback riding; Warde Donovan; Phil Arnold; Eddie Quillan; Jimmy Joyce; William Christopher; Will J. White; Stuart Nisbet; Katherine Barrett; and Phil Montgomery. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Jan 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
6 Apr 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
1 May 1967
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 May 1967
p. 10.
Daily Variety
12 May 1967
p. 16.
Daily Variety
16 May 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 May 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1967
p. 16.
Daily Variety
25 Mar 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1968
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
3 Sep 1966
p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1966
p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1967
Section E, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
16 May 1967
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jun 1968
Section E, p. 19.
Variety
20 Apr 1966
p. 18.
Variety
24 May 1967
p. 24.
Variety
27 Mar 1968
p. 24.
Variety
12 Jun 1968
p. 22.
Variety
19 Jun 1968
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus comp
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte supv
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Unit prod mgr
Main titles
Main titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the screenplay for the film The Paleface by Edmund Hartmann and Frank Tashlin (Paramount, 1948).
SONGS
"The Shakiest Gun in the West," words and music by Dave Blume and Jerry Keller.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1968
Premiere Information:
Regional opening: spring 1968
Los Angeles opening: 26 June 1968
Production Date:
began 2 May 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures
Copyright Date:
11 May 1967
Copyright Number:
LP38822
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Techniscope
Duration(in mins):
101
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the 19th century, Jesse W. Heywood graduates from a Pennsylvania dental college and heads west to set up a frontier practice. En route, the stagecoach on which he is riding is robbed by two masked bandits, one of whom is pretty Penelope Cushings, alias Bad Penny Cushings. She is caught by a sheriff's posse and agrees, in exchange for a full pardon, to help the government learn who is smuggling guns to renegade Sioux Indians. Then, in order to board a wagon train that does not accommodate single women, Penelope dupes Jesse into marrying her. The marriage is not consummated, however, because of a Sioux attack on the wagon train, much to Penelope's relief and Jesse's gawky chagrin. During the attack, Jesse believes he is responsible for killing more than a dozen braves, when in fact it was Penelope who scored the kills. Soon Jesse is known as the fastest gunman in the West, and the formerly timid dentist begins wearing elaborate outfits to reflect his fearsome reputation. Shattered when he learns the truth, he confesses his incompetence to the townspeople, who immediately shun him. Jesse finally proves his mettle when Penelope is captured by the Indians: disguising himself as a squaw, he rescues Penelope, helps her uncover the gun smugglers, and even shoots fairly ... +


In the 19th century, Jesse W. Heywood graduates from a Pennsylvania dental college and heads west to set up a frontier practice. En route, the stagecoach on which he is riding is robbed by two masked bandits, one of whom is pretty Penelope Cushings, alias Bad Penny Cushings. She is caught by a sheriff's posse and agrees, in exchange for a full pardon, to help the government learn who is smuggling guns to renegade Sioux Indians. Then, in order to board a wagon train that does not accommodate single women, Penelope dupes Jesse into marrying her. The marriage is not consummated, however, because of a Sioux attack on the wagon train, much to Penelope's relief and Jesse's gawky chagrin. During the attack, Jesse believes he is responsible for killing more than a dozen braves, when in fact it was Penelope who scored the kills. Soon Jesse is known as the fastest gunman in the West, and the formerly timid dentist begins wearing elaborate outfits to reflect his fearsome reputation. Shattered when he learns the truth, he confesses his incompetence to the townspeople, who immediately shun him. Jesse finally proves his mettle when Penelope is captured by the Indians: disguising himself as a squaw, he rescues Penelope, helps her uncover the gun smugglers, and even shoots fairly well. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.