The Stranger Wore a Gun


Action Western
83 min     5.5     1953     USA


Having been a spy for Quantrill's raiders during the Civil War, Jeff Travis thinking himself a wanted man, flees to Prescott Arizona where he runs into Jules Mourret who knows of his past. He takes a job on the stage line that Mourret is trying to steal gold from. When Mourret's men kill a friend of his he sets out to get Mourret and his men. When his plan to have another gang get Mourret fails, he has to go after them himself.


John Chard wrote:
Jeff Travis – Quantrill’s Conscience. The Stranger Wore a Gun is directed by Andre De Toth and adapted to screenplay by Kenneth Gamet from the story Yankee Gold written by John W. Cunningham. It stars Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Joan Weldon, George Macready, Alfonso Bedoya, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Pierre Watkin. A Technicolor/3-Dimension production, music is by Mischa Bakaleinikoff and cinematography by Lester White. Jeff Travis (Scott) was a spy for Quantrill's Raiders, but after disagreeing with the savagery he witnessed during The Lawrence Massacre, he decides to head off to Prescott, Arizona to start a new life. Unfortunately his reputation precedes him and it's not long before he is in the middle of robberies and murder as the hunger for gold rears its ugly head. As anyone who has seen it in its 2D print will attest, the 3D moments in this look rather bad, some films have been able to get away with it, but this is not one of them. However, mercifully this isn't a production that throws things at the screen every five minutes, or one that films every action sequence in depth perception. As it is, the 3D scenes are the least of the problems on show here, where were it not for the stoic Scott, the lovely Trevor and the novelty value of early turns from Marvin and Borgnine, then this would actually be a below average disaster. It's sometimes fun, but not always intentionally, and it looks very nice from a location perspective (Alabama Hills, Lone Pine), but the cast are saddled with a mediocre and unadventurous screenplay. The subject of Travis' past is briefly dangled, intriguingly so, with the fact that he is scarred from his "work" as a soldier of the Civil War grabbing the attention, but it's quickly dispensed with to pitch this interesting character into a cliché riddled "town rascals at work" plot. There's a boorish love triangle that's as pointless as it is obvious as to where it will end up, and Bedoya is irritatingly awful to the point his scenes are practically unwatchable. De Toth seems strangely off form on this one, you would tend to think the 3D filming had him losing his focus, but in this same year he crafted the hugely successful House of Wax in 3D. So he obviously had a knack for depth filming. He also this same year made Thunder Over the Plains with Scott, a significantly better Western than what is on offer here. In one fight scene between Scott and Borgnine, the director struggles to hide the fact that Borgnine has suddenly lost 50 pounds and Scott is 15 years younger! It's very poor from a director who undoubtedly had great talent. It's one for fans of the name actors only this one, a picture to tick off your lists, to be forgotten and consigned to Cinema Boothill. 5/10