The Gunfighter (1950)

The Gunfighter (1950)The Gunfighter is a western film released in 1950 by 20th Century Fox. Gregory Peck stars as Jimmy Ringo, an aging gunfighter who is attempting to retire and leave behind his reputation as one of the quickest shots around. The movie focuses on Ringo’s struggle to distance himself from his gun fighting career, and the events that continue to suck him back in.

The Gunfighter originally ran with two taglines during its promotional period: "Ringo was his name! The challenge of every outlaw gunman! The notorious self-defense killer!" and "His only friend was his gun… His only refuge – a woman’s heart!"

Cast and Crew of The Gunfighter

The Gunfighter was directed by Henry King, and produced by Nunnally Johnson. William Bowers and William Sellers worked together to create the screenplay for The Gunfighter. The film was edited by Barbara McLean. Arthur Miller acted as cinematographer. Alfred Newman composed the score for The Gunfighter.

The Gunfighter stars Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo, Helen Westcott as Peggy Walsh, Millard Mitchell as Marshal Strett, and Jean Parker as Molly. The film also includes Karl Malden, Skip Homeier, Anthony Ross, Verna Felton, Ellen Corby, Richard Jaeckel, and Alan Hale Jr. in supporting roles.

The Gunfighter premiered in Los Angeles and New York on June 23, 1950, and has a running length of 84 minutes.

Plot Synopsis for The Gunfighter

The film begins in the 1880s, where Jimmy Ringo is an old gunfighter with a reputation as of the quickest in the Southwest. Ringo is enjoying a drink in a saloon when he is approached by Eddie, a cocky young showoff who challenges Ringo. Ringo is tired of killing people, and tries to convince Eddie to stand down. Eddie draws his gun on Ringo regardless, and Ringo shoots him. Ringo is informed that Eddie was survived by three brothers, and decides it’s time to leave town.

Of course, the three brothers follow Ringo, but he chases off their horses in the desert and makes his way to Cayenne. Ringo heads for the Palace Bar and meets the owner, Mac, who tells Mark Strett, a local marshal, that Ringo is in town. Ringo and Mark are old friends, and Ringo is surprised that Mark has become a lawman. Mark tells Ringo that he’d better leave town after eating, despite Ringo ensuring him that he won’t cause trouble. Ringo tells Mark that he’s only in town to visit his former wife, Peggy Walsh, as well as his son Jimmy Jr. Mark finally agrees to inform Peggy that Ringo is at the saloon.

Mark heads for the school where Peggy is a teacher, and on the way, tells his deputy to take Peggy’s new suitor, Hunt Bromley, into custody. Mark comes back to the saloon to inform Ringo that Peggy wasn’t interested in seeing him. A local resident at the saloon named Jerry Marlowe thinks Ringo killed his son, and plans to kill Ringo. As he’s about to shoot, Jerry’s wife knocks the gun askew and Ringo runs. Ringo meets up with Molly, an old friend currently working as a singer, on his way out of the saloon. Molly informs Ringo that Peggy is a local schoolteacher, and that Hunt Bromley is interested in Peggy.

Molly talks to Peggy and tries to get her to see Ringo, but Bromley overhears and heads to the saloon. Ringo throws him out of the bar. At this point, Eddie’s brothers reach the town on foot, and acquire new guns and horses. Mark knows that there will be trouble, and has his deputy hole up at the saloon with a shotgun to ward off any unwanted visitors. Ringo finds Marlowe and captures him, and goes on to tell him that he didn’t kill his son. Ringo locks Marlowe up at the marshal’s office, and some women enter the office to complain about Ringo being in town.

Mark and Ringo head back to the saloon, and Mac offers to give some of his revenue to Ringo, who he anticipates will increase his business. Ringo tells Mac to give the extra cash to Peggy instead. Molly and Peggy arrive at the saloon, and Ringo tries to convince Peggy to leave town with him. Peggy refuses, though she agrees to reconsider in a year. Ringo wants to see his son before he leaves.

Suddenly, Bromley appears and shoots Ringo in the back. As Ringo is dying, he tells Mark to inform everyone that he drew first, in order to pass on his reputation to Bromley. Peggy and Jimmie Jr. arrive at Ringo’s funeral as his wife and son.

Additional Information about The Gunfighter

The Gunfighter was originally called "The Big Gun" before its release. The movie studio strongly disliked Gregory Peck’s mustache, but didn’t ask him to shave it off until too much of the filming had already been completed. The Gunfighter had a mediocre performance at the box office, and the studio head later told Peck that his mustache was at fault.

The street used for much of the filming in The Gunfighter was also used for The Ox-Bow Incident, a 1943 film.

The song "Brownsville Girl" alludes to Gregory Peck’s character in The Gunfighter.

The Gunfighter was based on the life of a real gunfighter named John Ringo, a ruthless outlaw and murderer who survived the fight at the OK Corral. The real John Ringo committed suicide in 1882.