Three Hours to Kill (1954)

77-78 mins | Western | October 1954

Director:

Alfred Werker

Producer:

Harry Joe Brown

Cinematographer:

Charles "Bud" Lawton

Editor:

Gene Havlick

Production Designer:

George Brooks

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Gunslinger and Three Hours to Live ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Gunslinger and Three Hours to Live . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Sep 1954.
---
Daily Variety
8 Sep 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Sep 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 54
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 54
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 54
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 54
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Sep 54
p. 137.
New York Times
4 Sep 54
p. 6.
Variety
8 Sep 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Addl dial
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to prod
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Gunslinger
Three Hours to Live
Release Date:
October 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 3 September 1954
Production Date:
19 January--9 February 1954
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 September 1954
Copyright Number:
LP4014
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
77-78
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16954
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Former stage guard Jim Guthrie returns to his home town three years after being falsely accused of murder to learn the identity of the true killer. When Jim comes upon his former friend, bartender Sam Minor, and demands to know why Sam participated in the town's attempt to lynch him, Sheriff Ben East intervenes. Jim voluntarily goes to jail, and there describes how he spent three miserable years on the run until hearing of Ben's appointment as sheriff. Believing Ben's honesty might help him to solve the crime, Jim says he risked returning. When Ben presses him, Jim then explains the night that changed his life three years earlier: At a town dance given by saloon owner Marty Lasswell, Jim quietly celebrates his upcoming engagement to Laurie Mastin and politely evades a dance request by pretty Chris Plumber. When Laurie arrives with her brother Carter, she and Jim slip outside to discuss how to break the news of their engagement to the overly protective Carter. They are interrupted by Niles Hendricks, who asks Laurie to dance just as Carter comes outside looking for his sister. After Niles and Laurie depart, Carter orders Jim to leave Laurie alone, and when Jim blurts out their intention to marry, Carter warns him that no one in town will help him if Carter so requests. Carter then threatens to kill Jim should he persist. The men fight and Carter knocks Jim out. When Jim revives moments later, Carter is lying dead nearby. The crowd at the dance rush outside to find Jim standing over Carter, holidng his gun. Marty examines the gun and discovers that ... +


Former stage guard Jim Guthrie returns to his home town three years after being falsely accused of murder to learn the identity of the true killer. When Jim comes upon his former friend, bartender Sam Minor, and demands to know why Sam participated in the town's attempt to lynch him, Sheriff Ben East intervenes. Jim voluntarily goes to jail, and there describes how he spent three miserable years on the run until hearing of Ben's appointment as sheriff. Believing Ben's honesty might help him to solve the crime, Jim says he risked returning. When Ben presses him, Jim then explains the night that changed his life three years earlier: At a town dance given by saloon owner Marty Lasswell, Jim quietly celebrates his upcoming engagement to Laurie Mastin and politely evades a dance request by pretty Chris Plumber. When Laurie arrives with her brother Carter, she and Jim slip outside to discuss how to break the news of their engagement to the overly protective Carter. They are interrupted by Niles Hendricks, who asks Laurie to dance just as Carter comes outside looking for his sister. After Niles and Laurie depart, Carter orders Jim to leave Laurie alone, and when Jim blurts out their intention to marry, Carter warns him that no one in town will help him if Carter so requests. Carter then threatens to kill Jim should he persist. The men fight and Carter knocks Jim out. When Jim revives moments later, Carter is lying dead nearby. The crowd at the dance rush outside to find Jim standing over Carter, holidng his gun. Marty examines the gun and discovers that two shots have been fired, prompting the crowd, led by barber Deke, Niles and Sam to call for Jim's immediate punishment. Laurie's attempts to stop the mob cause the horse and wagon carrying Jim to bolt, and Jim escapes. In the present Jim pleads with Ben to give him time to find the real killer, and Ben grants Jim the three hours until sunset to avoid arrest. When Marty observes Jim leaving the jail, he makes plans to depart town immediately. Sam, armed with a pistol, lies in wait for Jim, but he spots the bartender's reflection in a shop window and rushes into Deke's barbershop. Jim accuses Deke of Carter's murder because of money he owed him, but Deke insists he is innocent. Later, at the local hotel, Jim meets Chris, who reveals that she has waited for him, always believing in his innocence. Chris is dismayed by Jim's bitterness, however, and disappointed when Jim reveals he is still in love with Laurie. Meanwhile, Ben tells a panicked Sam, Marty and Deke that they must all remain in town, declaring that the first one to flee will appear guilty. Shortly afterward, Jim arrives at Niles's ranch and is stunned to discover that Laurie has married Niles and has a young son, Carter, Jr., who Jim immediately realizes is his own son. When Jim insists upon confronting Niles, Laurie grows angry at his belief that she would knowingly marry her brother's killer. After the two quarrel, Niles's top hand Esteban misleads Jim, sending him to find Niles in the hills. Niles, who has been warned of Jim's return by Ben's deputy Vince, returns home for a rifle and despite Laurie's pleas, says the only way to save their marriage is to kill Jim. Niles then confronts Jim in the hills, but their fight is stopped by Vince, who arrests Jim. Jim escapes, however, and Chris visits Ben at the jail, worried about Jim's safety, but Ben discloses that a federal marshal is on the way to arrest Jim. Laurie drives into town with little Carter to ask Ben to prevent Jim and Niless' meeting, and after Ben departs, Chris convinces Laurie to tell Jim that she still cares for him, so he will no longer feel a need for revenge. When Jim rides into town, Laurie meets him, tearfully stating that she married Niles only because of her pregnancy. he pleads with Jim to leave, promising to come with him, but when she admits that she believes him guilty of Carter's murder, Jim is disgusted. Later, Marty, Niles, Deke and Sam meet in the saloon, where Jim finds them. The men argue about the events surrounding Carter's death until Marty frankly acknowledges his involvement in the attempted lynching and says that he may know the identity of Carter's killer. Shortly afterward, Jim returns to the jail to turn himself in to Ben, and asks for a public trial. Ben, convinced that Jim will be found guilty, offers him an opportunity to escape. Jim then accuses Ben of being the murderer, revealing that Marty had told him that Ben had lost a large amount of money that he owed to Carter in gambling debts. Ben admits his guilt and tries to flee. Jim pursues him and is wounded by Ben, who then is killed by Niles as he is about to kill Jim. The townspeople invite Jim to settle back in town, but he declines. Instead Jim bids farewell to Laurie, little Carter and Niles, and as he leaves is joined by Chris. +

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.