Red Sundown. Released 1956 by Universal International Pictures; Directed by Jack Arnold; 81 minutes; Cast: Rory Calhoun (Deputy Alec Longmire), Martha Hyer (Caroline Murphy), Dean Jagger (Sheriff Jade Murphy), Robert Middleton (Rufus Henshaw), Grant Williams (Chet Swann), Lita Baron (Maria), James Millican (Bud Purvis), Trevor Bardette (Sam Baldwin), Leo Gordon (Rod Zellman), David Kasday (Hughie Clore).
Much to my surprise, when watching the opening credits of Red Sundown, I noticed that this movie was based on a Lewis B. Patten book called Back Trail. I recently read one of his books called Gun Proud which I reviewed in this blog on 7 Feb and thought that a movie based on a Patten book was bound to be pretty good. Then shortly after the movie started I heard Calhoun mention the name Longmire, then Purvis came up and I knew then that this movie was actually Gun Proud brought to the big screen. It seems Patten wrote Back Trail in 1956, then the movie came out and then Gun Proud was released in 1957.
The movie is really a cut down version of the book for it fills only 81 minutes. The movie retains the initial shooting in the saloon and the incident where Purvis buries Longmire in the burning shack and which takes over 20 minutes of the whole movie. Deleted from the movie was the whole part of how Longamire puts away his guns and lives a new life with a new name. Instead he heads straight for Llano. In fact, Zellman gives up the chase after he kills Purvis and then it is just the gunfighter Swan and the rancher Henshaw that Longmire has to contend with. In the movie the love interest turns out to be the Sheriff’s daughter and Sheriff Murphy only gets wounded in the arm. Oddly enough the producers kept some small details straight from the book in the movie such as the cages with gila monsters and rattlesnakes kept in the local saloon as well as the incident with the wagon loads of wire.
Nonetheless, even if you never read the book, this movie packs lots of action. Grant Williams depiction of Swann was excellent–with a cocky, arrogant attitude overflowing with a sadistic cruel streak. Also Martha Hyer is quite the looker as Caroline Murphy. Rory Calhoun does a good job as Alec Longmire and captures his character’s brooding attempt to put down his guns in order to live up to his promise he made to Purvis.
Below are some screen shots of some of the characters and buildings from the movie.
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