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USA 1964
Directed by
Richard Wilson
92 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Invitation To A Gunfighter

Produced and written by Richard Wilson with his wife Elizabeth, Invitation To A Gunfighter features many of the common types of the classic Western with Yul Brynner as the fatally elegant Jules Gaspard D'Estaing, a half-Creole, half-black gunfighter, hired by slimy town boss (Pat Hingle) to kill a soldier (George Segal) who has just returned from the war to find his property gone and his girl Ruth (Janice Rule) married to its (now) one-armed owner, a self-pitying drunk,Wilson (Clifford David).

Wilson serves up the familiar material (the film is a reworking of Wilson's own 1955 Western Man With The Gun) with a wonderfully concentrated, almost melodramatic, style. Brynner is irresistible as the iconic uberman (much is made of the point that he has gone so far beyond ordinary mortals that he is no longer human) whose emotional impregnability is broken by his attraction to Ruth, his repressed past erupting in wholesale destruction of the town prior to his tragic immolation and sanctification.

Wilson is no Sergio Leone but his rather low-key approach to the well-turned story allows Bynner's performance to carry the day without fear of parody.

FYI: Interested parties should also checkout Mchael Winner's Lawman, a 1971 reworking of Wilson's 1955 film.




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