The Man Behind the Gun / Thunder Over the Plains / Riding Shotgun
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Man Behind The Gun, The/Thunder Over The Plains/Riding Shotgun (DVD) (3FE) (MT)
Tall Randolph Scott is every inch a hero in three bullet-laced Westerns. The secessionist fervor of the 1850s comes to California, and undercover Army officer Scott aims to thwart the separatist passions in The Man Behind the Gun (Side A). There's Thunder over the Plains (Side B) and lightning in Scott's holsters in the second film. He portrays an army captain assigned to a lawless area of Texas after the Civil War. Next, Scott is Riding Shotgun (Side B) and heading into a whirlwind of trouble: a mob bent on vigilante justice wrongly suspects him of robbing a stagecoach. An action bull's-eye all the way!]]>
This terrific triple-feature of Randolph Scott "B-movie" Westerns shows how Scott's image as a quiet, reliable gunman grew more refined and complex as the 1950s progressed. Scott is best remembered for the definitive Westerns he made with director Budd Boetticher in the late '50s (under the imprimatur of his Ranown production company, co-owned with producer Harry Joe Brown), and Hollywood historians would later speculate on Scott's allegedly intimate relationship with closeted gay star Rock Hudson, but the Warner Bros. Westerns on this DVD represent a period of transition, as Scott's screen persona underwent a fascinating and resonant makeover. Under the direction of Felix Feist (who would soon migrate to a prolific career in television), Scott plays an undercover Army officer in The Man Behind the Gun (1953), a standard-issue oater that pits Scott against secessionists in 1850s California, with a cast that includes Patrice Wymore (as Scott's schoolteacher love interest) and future Gilligan's island skipper Alan Hale Jr. Thunder Over the Plains (1953) and Riding Shotgun (1954) are two of the six Westerns that Scott made with one-eyed director Andre de Toth, signaling a maturity that would continue to deepen his screen persona. In the former, Randy's a Texas Ranger whose loyalties are tested when he's charged with capturing a carpetbagger (Charles McGraw) who's threatening to overrun the state. Riding Shotgun finds Scott doing just that, guarding stagecoaches and defending himself against a vigilante mob that suspects him of robbery.
All three films deal with Scott defending his honor in a lawless land where honor (and expert handling of a six-gun) is all that a man can claim for his own. As action-packed B-movie programmers they can hardly be called classics, but this is sturdy, well-crafted entertainment, bolstered by the efficient Warner Bros. stable of contract artists including veteran cinematographer Bert Glennon and composer David Buttolph, whose work on all three films is characteristically superb. And while Warner Home Video hasn't lavished their full restoration process on this two-sided DVD (resulting in Technicolor films that look good but still show signs of mild fading, scratches, etc.), the budget pricing and triple-feature capacity make this an irresistible bargain by any standard. If you're going to buy this disc, you shouldn't hesitate to add its tandem partner that includes another Randolph Scott triple-feature of Fort Worth, Colt .45, and Tall Man Riding. If you're a Western buff seeking a greater appreciation of Scott's laudable career, you simply can't go wrong. --Jeff Shannon
- Side A: The Man Behind the Gun
- Side B: Thunder Over the Plains, Riding Shotgun
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The Man Behind the Gun takes place in Los Angeles, California, before the beginning of the Civil War. Callicut (Scott) is in the Army but he arrives in L.A. as an undercover agent with the mission of thwarting some secessionists. The supporting cast includes Patrice Wymore, Dick Wesson & Philip Carey. Robert Cabal (Rawhide) has a small role as the outlaw, Joaquin Murietta, who ends up giving aid to Callicut.
Thunder Over the Plains takes place in Texas after the Civil War. Capt. David Porter (Scott) is in command of a cavalry detachment that's responsible for maintaining control. But Porter is a Texan, loyal to the government, who detests what the Carpetbaggers are doing to his state. This film is fairly intricate in its plot, unusual for a B Western. The film also features Phyllis Kirk (Norah, Porter's wife), Lex Barker (Capt. Bill Hodges) who knew Nora from back East & attempts to seduce her, & Charles McGraw (Ben Westman, a Texas patriot & outlaw). Elisha Cook, Jr. has a featured role & Fess Parker has a small one.
Riding Shotgun is unusual for a B Western, it borders on being an "adult" psychological Western. Larry DeLong (Scott) has been riding shotgun for nearly every stage line in the West, seeking his revenge on one outlaw, Dan Marady (James Millican). Through a set up, DeLong is lured from the stage station & captured by the outlaw gang. They leave him behind tied up & then rob the stage. The gang is also going to doubleback & rob the unprotected town. DeLong frees himself, returns to town & tries to warn them that Marady is coming there. Few believe him, in fact, they think he's part of the gang. It's pretty tense for a B Western. The cast features Wayne Morris (Tub Murphy), Joan Weldon (Orissa Flynn) & Joe Sawyer (Tom Biggert). The cast includes Charle Buchinsky (aka Charles Bronson).
All three films are in excellent condition. All three are in the full screen format. There aren't any bonus features not even subtitles.
Most recent customer reviews
Three decent movies for a great price. (10.79)