Gunfight at Black Horse Canyon (1961)
Rating: 1 of 5 stars.
Directed by R. G. Springsteen.
Written by Anthony Lawrence, Jack Turley, and Frank Gruber.
Starring: Dale Robertson, Patricia Owens.
Gunfight awkwardly splices together two episodes from NBC’s Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-1962) and the result is some of the worst film editing I’ve ever seen.
After finishing the movie I was able to reconnect the tapestry of plot in a manner that could have made it decent, but it’s not worth the mental legwork.
Katherine (Patricia Owens) is sent west via train as a biased journalist with a bleak opinion of her rural destination. On her journey she meets a mysterious stranger who takes a liking to her, and his gang takes her hostage after she witnesses them robbing and shooting two men.
Jim Hardie (Dale Robertson) is a Wells Fargo agent tasked with the job of keeping Katherine safe on her visit. He lives under the threat of a $5000 bounty, placed on his head by a vengeance-minded ex-con who he helped put away ten years prior. This aspect of the film is introduced early on, abandoned for an hour, then suddenly resuscitated shortly before the resolution.
At no point does it feel like the film is building towards anything, and several subplots should have been left on the cutting room floor. Had this been an original shoot instead of a Frankenstein job of existing content, multiple characters could have been combined to simplify the story and give the viewer more time to connect with the individuals.
With hundreds of quality classic westerns to peruse, one need not waste time on Gunfight at Black Horse Canyon.