Case Silverthorn (Jim Davis) is a gambler, but an honest man. He sends out a mail-order to buy some ranch land, but arrives to find that the seller was killed before the purchase was finalized.
Sharon (Merry Anders) and Jud (Don Dorrell), the seller’s children, are still living at the ranch and had no idea that it was sold. Case decides to clear up the whole mess by digging for information while working as a card dealer at the saloon in town.
Edward L. Cahn directs The Gambler Wore a Gun from a screenplay by Owen Harris.
The Gambler Wore a Gun is a film with a lot of appeal. Its performances are strong and dramatic, but not to the level of overdrama — in most cases, anyway. Don Dorrell as Jud Donovan is one exception. He edges on corn a couple of times.
The film is also photographed very nicely, painting a stunning, crisp, black-and-white picture of the West (with lots of my most beloved visual feature: craftily-used shadows).
If nice visuals and solid performances aren’t enough to keep you occupied, the film’s got a lot of action, too. Fists are thrown, triggers are pulled, and swelling music plays over it all.
I’m usually one to prefer story over action, but the action sequences here are some of the film’s most gripping scenes. They’re very well-staged and are actually relevant to the story rather than gratuitous.
The action’s appeal doesn’t mean that the story is bad, either. Both are quite effective. There are a lot of characters getting themselves into a lot of trouble, so it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the many subplots.
The Gambler Wore a Gun is a pretty solid gun-slinging picture. Recommended for fans of short, but well-constructed Westerns. The score: 3/5