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The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)

aka The Fastest Gun Alive

Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 89 mins · English

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Cast:

Small George Temple / George Kelby, Jr.
Small Dora Temple
Small Vinnie Harold
Small Eric Doolittle
Small Harvey Maxwell
Small Lou Glover
Small Taylor Swope
Small Dink Wells
Small Kevin McGovern
Small Brian Tibbs
Small Rose Tibbs
No_movie_poster Frank Stringer
Small Ben Buddy
No_movie_poster Lars Toomey
No_movie_poster Bobby Tibbs
Small Sheriff Bill Toledo
No_movie_poster Joe Fenwick
No_movie_poster Reverend

Crew:

No_movie_poster Frank D. Gilroy Screenplay
No_movie_poster Russell Rouse Director
No_movie_poster Clarence Greene Production
No_movie_poster Ferris Webster Editing

Plot:

Notorious gunslinger George Kelby Jr. (Glenn Ford) and his wife Dora (Jeanne Crain) settle down in a peaceful little town of Cross Creek under assumed identities to avoid having to continually face men out to become famous for shooting down the "fastest gun alive". George becomes a mild-mannered teetotal shopkeeper little respected by the other townsfolk.

One day, the whole town hears the news that outlaw Vinnie Harold (Broderick Crawford) has gunned down Clint Fallon, reputedly the "fastest gun in the west", and he listens to the townsmen talk about Wyatt Earp, Wes Hardin, and other so-called "fast guns". They are also laughing at George, seeing him as nothing but a "ribbon clerk". HIs pride stung, he goes back to his store, retrieves his gun from hiding (he has told his wife how he tossed it into the river years ago), belts it on, and - over her desperate pleading not to destroy the peaceful life they have built - says "they have to know who I am" and goes to the bar. The men are astonished - and a little afraid - at seeing George wearing a gun, believing him to be drunk. He sets about destroying the myths these men have about gunmen, displaying a detailed knowledge of guns and gunmen they never suspected he had, and finally blurts out his secret that he is the fastest gun alive... "...faster than Earp, faster than Hardin, faster than Fallon, and faster than the man who killed him." When the citizens disbelieve him, he takes them into the street and gives them a demonstration of his skill. First, with only two shots, he hits two silver dollars tossed into the air on the count of three by two men. Following that, he shoots a beer glass full of beer dropped from a man's hand at twenty feet, hitting it almost immediately after it left the man's hand.

Meanwhile, while everyone is in the church where they have taken an oath not to tell George's secret, Harold has come to town and finds out about George's display of gun skill from a local boy. Even though he is on the run---and over the objections of his fellow bank robbers, Taylor Swope (John Dehner) and Dink Wells (Noah Beery, Jr.), who just want to escape the law---Harold decides to stay and face George. Vinnie finds out that the "fast gun" is in the church and sends Swope to the church to call him out so his boss can meet him. When the town refuses to send out "the man who shot two silver dollars at the same time", Harold sends Dink out to find some kerosene and pour it over all the building in town, and then orders Swope to deliver a message to the people in the church that if the fast gun doesn't come out in five minutes, Vinnie and his men will burn down the whole town unless George faces him.

The townspeople now "forget" their oath and try to force George into the street. George now has to tell the whole truth, explaining that he is no gunman, that he has never been in a real gunfight. The gun with the notches in the handle is actually his father's (a famous lawman shot down from ambush) and he is terrified at the prospect of actually facing a man in a gunfight.

Swope and Wells elect to abandon Vinnie. Dink stays for awhile, but rides off. Swope, who decides to take his share of the gang's loot, is told by Vinnie to either draw or ride out—but without any of the loot. Swope leaves, toys with the idea of drawing on Vinnie. He thinks better of it and leaves, just before George exits the church to face Vinnie.

But with no other choice, George forces down his fear and goes out into the street, where he outdraws and kills Harold. When a posse pursuing the outlaws shows up, the townspeople, who are attending the burial of Harold and Kelby, claim that Kelby and Harold shot each other dead. After the posse leaves, it's revealed that Kelby wasn't killed and that a coffin filled with stones, Kelby's gun, and Kelby's reputation as "the fastest gun alive," was buried. This allows George and Dora to resume their peaceful existence in Cross Creek.