Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Gunfighter

The Gunfighter (1950) is the story of Jimmy Ringo, loosely based on Johnny Ringo's life.  Very loosely.  Actually, all they did was use his last name and made him an outlaw.  The title role was played by Gregory Peck.  The film is pretty good, as is the acting, but by the last few minutes, the end becomes pretty obvious.  There was no surprise as to how Ringo would end up.  And it wasn't anything like the way Johnny Ringo ended his life.

The Bit Actors in this one were excellent.  I only watched it once, and that was before reading the cast list on IMDb.  Richard Jaeckel (1926 - 1997) was in it, but I missed him.  That is tough to do.  I remember him well for his part in The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Helen Westcott (1928 - 1998) played the love interest, schoolteacher, and wife (?) of Ringo.  Westcott has 78 titles on IMDb, starting when she was just six years old.  She appears in The Our Gang Follies of 1938.  Not many big hits, but she is also in With a Song in My Heart (1952) and Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), then a lot of TV work.  Her last movie was I Love My Wife (1970) starring Elliott Gould.

The marshal was played by Millard Mitchell (1903 - 1953).  He only has 38 titles listed, but what a career.  It really got off the ground near the end of his life when he is seen in Twelve O'Clock High (1949), Winchester '73 (1950), You're in the Navy Now (1951), and of course Singin' in the Rain (1952).

In only his seventh film, the young, tough "gunny" is played by Skip Homeier (b. 1930).  It was a great start and he played it well.  In the same year he is in Halls of Montezuma with Richard Widmark.  He went on to a total of 133 titles and did quite a bit of TV work.  I remember him on "The Addams Family."  He was in the Don Knotts film, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), and at least two of the original "Star Trek" shows.

The Gunfighters was a great movie for Bit Parts.  Watch for the names above in movies you see.  And since tomorrow is a holiday, that will give you time to spend in front of the TV.  Have a nice Memorial Day.


  1. I haven't seen "The Gunfighter," and I have to admit Gregory Peck as a gunslinger (or any kind of bad guy) is always a bit of a stretch for me. It's an Atticus Finch thing, I guess.
    You mentioned Richard Jaeckel. He seemed to have had supporting roles in so many movies and TV shows (just checked IMDB, there are 186 titles listed for him). The one I always remember is "Sometimes a Great Notion" (1970) as Paul Newman's brother. If you've seen it, I think you'll know why.
    Skip Homeier did a lot of TV, too. Did he have his own series?

  2. I wasn't so sure about Peck as the gunfighter either, but in this role he played it as a much more complex character. He is trying to contact his former wife and see the child he hasn't seen in eight years, and he is reflecting on what he might have been. Peck showed this conflict, but he didn't lose the toughness he needs as a gunfighter.

    Skippy Homeier was a regular on "The Interns" in the 1970s. I didn't see him in anything else as a regular cast member.

  3. I have to add two more to your list. Percy Helton, the eternal sleezy guy, probably best remembered for being the drunken santa in Miracle on 34th street, and my all time favorite Timothy Carey, who was great in Paths of glory..and always the great bad guy..

  4. Thanks for your comment. Although neither of these actors was in The Gunfighter, they are both worthy of my Bit Actors list.

    I wrote about Helton back in August. You can see that post by clicking on his link in the list at the right. Keep in mind that Blogspot lists them in alpha order by FIRST name. And it is a lot of work to go back to every post and fix it!


Please add your thoughts, but they will be monitored so keep it on topic.