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Gunpoint! (1955) Online

Gunpoint! (1955) Online
Original Title :
At Gunpoint
Genre :
Movie / Western
Year :
Directror :
Alfred L. Werker
Cast :
Fred MacMurray,Dorothy Malone,Walter Brennan
Writer :
Daniel B. Ullman
Type :
Time :
1h 21min
Rating :
Gunpoint! (1955) Online

The Dennis gang wants to rob the bank of the sleepy peaceful town of Plainview, Texas. Small town banks like this one have less money than large city banks but they're easy prey. Barlow, the gang's contact in town, assures them that Plainview only has an old marshal, Pete MacKay, who shouldn't pose any problem. The gang heads to Plainview. In town, storekeeper Jack Wright runs his store with wife Martha and brother-in-law Wally. Marshal MacKay and doctor Lacey are playing chess inside the store. Jack Wright makes his daily deposit at the bank and then returns to the store. The Dennis gang arrives and robs the bank, killing a teller and the alerted marshal. In the street, storekeeper Jack Wright picks the dead marshal's gun up and shoots fleeing robber Alvin Dennis, from a great distance. Townsman George Henderson finishes Alvin off with a shotgun. The bandit drops the loot and the bank recovers it. The townsfolk proclaim Jack Wright and George Henderson to be heroes. Storekeeper Jack ...
Complete credited cast:
Fred MacMurray Fred MacMurray - Jack Wright
Dorothy Malone Dorothy Malone - Martha Wright
Walter Brennan Walter Brennan - Doc Lacy
Tommy Rettig Tommy Rettig - Billy Wright
Skip Homeier Skip Homeier - Bob Dennis
John Qualen John Qualen - Livingstone
Whit Bissell Whit Bissell - Clem Clark
Irving Bacon Irving Bacon - Al Ferguson
Jack Lambert Jack Lambert - Kirk
John Pickard John Pickard - Alvin Dennis
James Griffith James Griffith - The Stranger (Bob Alexander)
Harry Shannon Harry Shannon - Marshal MacKay
Frank Ferguson Frank Ferguson - Marshal George Henderson
James O'Hara James O'Hara - Wally (as James Lilburn)
Harry Lauter Harry Lauter - Federal Marshal

Joel McCrea was originally cast as Jack Wright.

User reviews



About 30 years ago, I was on vacation in Florida with my family. One rainy night in our motel we settled down to watch this movie, and it stuck with me forever. Even today, I can watch a movie, and a month later, I can't remember it - usually because it had terrible acting, an awful (or non-existent) plot, or both. But I will never forget, "At Gunpoint." I suppose another reason I remember this movie is because I was so young, and the movie had adult themes. But I understood the themes. I liked how MacMurray, the common man, became an unlikely hero. To me, this was a movie about heroism being thrust upon a person, and how MacMurray's character awkwardly dealt with the responsibilities that came with that heroism. In kind of a backwards way, the heroism came first, then the courage, but only after a long, drawn-out, sweaty palms, interim battle with his own fears. I also liked the way the movie juxtaposed accidental heroism with the real, earned heroism in the same character--it defined heroism. This was also a movie about how a hero sometimes has to stand alone amidst a community of cowards, even if it means certain death, and that, sometimes, honor is more important than life itself. The suspense in this movie was gripping. When watching it, I felt MacMurray's nearly incapacitating fear as he waited for the dead bandit's friends to return and get their vengeance. Everyone should be able to easily relate to the universal themes in "At Gunpoint." I didn't comment on the details of the scenes of this movie for fear of getting them wrong - it has been over 30 years since I saw it.


I'm not a huge Fred MacMurray fan when it comes to Westerns, I guess, but he could do a credible enough job as he did in At Gunpoint. The basic storyline involves a store clerk who shoots one of an escaping band of robbers. Only by a lucky shot does the clerk actually hit and kill one of the robbers; the dead guy's brother who is also in the gang makes it his personal business to get revenge, especially when the newspapers glorify the action of the clerk in shooting down the bad guy.

This movie has one of my all-time favorite Western character actors, Skip Homeier, who is the bad guy seeking revenge. (Homeier and MacMurray are also a protagonist / antagonist pair in another Western, "Day of the Bad Man", where MacMurray plays a judge.) In this movie, MacMurray's son is played by Tommy Rettig of the 'Jeff's Collie' (i.e. 'Lassie') TV show and he is rather annoying in the role. Maybe the director wasn't paying as much attention to him, as Rettig was really very good in 'River of No Return' with Robert Mitchum. (The lucky kid had Marilyn Monroe's hands all over him during that movie!) Walter Brennan, another great, is in this movie and as a testy old doctor, he has some pretty funny acidic observations to make. When his best friend and checkers-partner gets shot and killed, Brennan underplays the scene where he sees that his friend is dead - and he does so masterfully. He gives only the slightest view of his anguish but you can tell he's devastated. Brennan was a giant of the Westerns and he's great in this movie as always.

I think the premise of a story is all important and this movie has a great one - take an ordinary guy, give him beginner's luck at accidentally beating the bad guy, then have the rest of the bad guys come back seeking revenge. Don't compare this movie to High Noon as one other person did, because it's really not the same theme. Frankly if I had a choice of which one to watch right now it would be this movie, At Gunpoint. (And I do like High Noon very much, but this is also a darned good film.) You won't waste your time by watching this one. If you like Westerns, this is one you will enjoy.


The Dennis gang ride into the town of Plainview and set about robbing the bank. However, during their escape Alvin Dennis (John Pickard) is shot and killed by a one in a million lucky shot by mild mannered store keeper Jack Wright (Fred MacMurray). Further compounding the gang's misery is that Alvin was carrying the money and so the town have managed to reclaim what was briefly taken from them. Jack, in spite of his protestations, is hailed a hero by all and sundry, even picking up a substantial reward. But led by a hate filled Bob Dennis (Skip Homeier), the Dennis gang are plotting revenge and have Jack firmly in their sights. Jack is about to find out just who his friends are in the fickle town of Plainview.

Yeah yeah yeah, At Gunpoint (AKA:Gunpoint!) is for sure a variation on the High Noon theme, and yes it proudly stands in its pulpit sermonising a moralistic viewpoint. Its central theme one that has been used a number of times in Westerns both prior and post this Allied Artists Pictures release. But so what? If a story, and the potent universal messages at its core, is worth telling, then tell it. As long as it's told well and not bogged down by poor technical aspects, then that surely is enough for the discerning genre fan? At Gunpoint is directed by Alfred L. Werker and is written by prolific Western story teller Daniel B. Ullman. It's a Technicolor/CinemaScope production with Ellsworth Fredericks on photography duties, and the wonderfully named Carmen Dragon provides a bracing score. Supporting MacMurray and Homeier are Dorothy Malone as Jack's increasingly fretful wife, Walter Brennan as a loyal Doctor friend who likes a tipple, while Whit Bissell is a welcome secondary character addition.

So many good things to recommend here, it may be a simple fable, but it's lit up by high quality acting and thrives on the moody atmosphere constructed by Werker. MacMurray was always hit and miss, particularly in the Western genre, but when he got it right, or perhaps when he had an understanding director? He was real value for money. Such is the case here. His Jack Wright is an honest man reluctantly put up on a pedestal, thus he quickly becomes a scared man. Naturally fearful for his wife and child, he doesn't hide that he himself is no hero, and has no wish to become one. MacMurray perfectly plays it restrained, thus it is heartfelt and believable. Homeier was always best when playing a snarly villain and here he delivers just that, a villain hell bent on revenge, an avenging brother whose actions speak louder than words. Werker was an old pro, a jobber director, and here he was coming to the end of a career that would span 32 years. He offers up some nice tonal delights here. Witness the dusty storm that descends upon Plainview, it coincides with the town residents having a change of attitude. Then there's his framing of the Dennis gang as they come for revenge, it's impossible not to think of them as the four horsemen of the apocalypse. While the final shoot out, and the twist in the horse tail, is awash with tension and crowned by a remarkable bit of stunt work. This a fine film that belies its "B" movie roots. One that will hopefully find more fans as the years roll by. 8/10


(Some Spoilers) Potent little morality play about a man who's left out in the cold and deserted by all those who he considered his friends after being hailed as a hero by those very same persons only days before.

The Dennis gang checking out the quite and peaceful little town of Plainview to pull off their next bank robbery get the surprise of their lives when the towns general store shopkeeper Jack Wright, Fred MacMurray, picks up the gun that Plainview's marshal, Harry Shannon,dropped after he was shot during the bank robbery and from some 70 to 100 yards away caught the gang's leader Alivn Dennis,John Pickart, with a slug right between the shoulder blades. Still alive Dennis is done in by local resident George Henderson, Jack Ferguson, who then finished the badly wounded bank robber off with a wild furry of shots from his rifle. Being looked upon as a hero at first the people of Plainview quickly changed their minds about Jack Wright when the Dennis gang, now lead by Alvin's younger brother Bob (Skip Homeier),let it be known that they were out to take revenge for Alvin Dennis' death.

Ambushing Henderson, who was made the new towns marshal, and gunning him down the gang later shot young Wally, James O'Hara,Jack's brother-in-law as he answered the door one evening mistaking them for Jack. The townspeople in a panic with the fear of the Dennis gang using them and their families as target practice, until they finally kill Jack, come to the conclusion in an almost unanimous vote, only old Doc Lacy(Walter Brenner) didn't vote with them,that Jack should leave town for his own safety as well as theirs.

Tense and heart-lifting, if not predictable, ending with Jack standing alone and with no one coming to his aid facing the Dennis gang at high-noon on the main street of Plainview. Fred MaMurray is perfect as the peaceful family man who's forced to risk his life against a ruthless gang of bank robbers with nothing more then a sense of justice and determination not to let himself be run out of the town that he was born raised a family and started a business in.

Just before the exciting conclusion of the movie Jack confronted the people of Plesentvile and with an emotional and stirring speech made them look deep into their hearts and souls about their abandonment of him when he needed them most when he was always there for them whenever they needed his help. You just knew what would happen in the movie "At Gunpoint" after that.


The Dennis band (Skip Homeier , Jack Lambert and others) wishes to rob the bank of the sleepy and quiet town of Plainview, Texas . There the honest storekeeper Jack Wright (Fred MacMurray , though Joel McCrea was originally cast ) settles down for a peaceful existence and he runs his general store with wife Martha (Dorothy Malone) , brother-in-law and accompanied by their child Billy Wright (Tommy Rettig) . Then the gang steals the bank, killing a teller and the alerted Sheriff is shot , too . In the street, store keeper Jack Wright picks the dead marshal's gun up and shoots from a great distance, fleeing stealers , and the outlaws drop the loot and escape . As when his beloved sibling is murdered , Bob Dennis exacts vengeance , the killing marks the turning point of transition from a robber , to bent on vendetta . Later on , a new town Marshal abandones his employment , despite the disagreements of townspeople around him . Shortly after , Wright must face the bunch of deadly killers alone when the gang leader, an avenger outlaw and his hoodlums arrive in the town . Bob Dennis (SkipHomeier) has sworn revenge and he will early arrive to the small town to reckoning .

This classic and traditional western is plenty of suspense as the dreaded hour approaches and the protagonist realizes he must stand alone but his fellow town people for help , nobody is willing to help him . Just when the previous sheriff about to leave , comes a vengeful gunman and his henchmen , as our protagonist is deserted by the townspeople who fear the threatened return of the nasty bandits . It is still a run-of-the-mill entry in Western genre . The film has an interesting premise similar to the classy ¨High Noon¨by Fred Zinneman with Gary Cooper , Grace Kelly , as the intimate starring is also left , instead of showing support for him , the citizens' committee advises Jack to sell his store and leave town for good . At the end starts a small war between the revengers and the loner seller with unexpected results . Fred McMurray gives a decent acting as the peace-loving owner of a general store who became a town hero when he luckily killed the leader of a gang of bank robbers . This is one of a clutch of acceptable horse operas Fred made in the forties , in the late 50s and the early sixties , such as ¨Texas Rangers¨, ¨The trail of the lonesome Pine¨, ¨A gun for a coward¨, ¨Good day for a hanging¨ and this ¨At gunpoint¨. Although MacMurray also played other genres as drama , adventures , wartime , children films , such as : The happiest millionaire , The shaggy dog , Son of Flubber , The absent-minded profesor , The princess come across , The Caine mutiny , Dive bomber , Above suspicion , Murder he says , The miracle of the bells , Alice Adams , The apartment , and Noir film as the classy : Double indemnity . He is accompanied by an important plethora of notorious secondaries . As the movie contains a great support cast , plenty of familiar faces from vintage Westerns such as : Walter Brennan , John Qualen , Whit Bissell ,Irving Bacon , James Griffith , John Pickard, Jack Lambert ,Ray Barcroft ,Irving Bacon ,Harry Shannon and Frank Ferguson .

The motion picture was professionally directed by Alfred L Welker . He was a good craftsman who made films of all kinds of genres , especially ¨Noir¨ and Westerns , such as : 1953 Devil's canyon , 1953 The Last Posse , 1951 Sealed Cargo , 1947 Pirates of Monterrey , 1947 Repeat Performance ,1944 My Pal Wolf , 1944 I walked by night ,1942 Whispering Ghosts ,1942 The Mad Martindales ,1939 Sherlock Holmes vs. Moriarty ,1939 News Is Made at Night , 1939 It Could Happen to You ,1938 Up the River , 1938 Gateway , 1938 Kidnapped ,1938 City Girl , 1937 Big Town Girl ,1937 Wild and Woolly ,1937 We Have Our Moments , 1936 Love in Exile ,1934 You Belong to Me ,1933 Advice to the Lovelorn , among others . Rating : 6/10 . Acceptable and passable film that will appeal to Western aficionados .


Who saw Alfred Werker 's two remarkable westerns "The Last Posse" and Three Hours to Kill" will not be deceived by "At Gunpoint", which basically has the same story as High Noon, but in a totally different style. And the difference in style is huge; High Noon used the myth of the west, from the cinematography to the hero and the ballad, everything was keyed to what we would expect in a standard western, but this time done better. Werker, on the opposite, uses a realistic style, his hero is a shopkeeper who just wants to live a decent life. He is no Wiil Kane. By showing typical town people, their fears, and their decisions when faced by a crisis, Werker manages to make a good western, without the clichés of the fifties. But he throws down the drain the beauty of the myth of the West. We can adapt John Ford's theory and say "When the legend is bigger than the truth, film the legend" and wonder if Werker would have followed he would not have improved the film. But he also might have ruined it.. You will enjoy At Gunpoint as long as you don't compare it to High Noon.


Director Alfred L. Werker's frontier drama "At Gunpoint," with Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Malone, and Walter Brennan, qualifies as one of the best post "High Noon" horse operas. Just as Gary Cooper had to defend himself against three ruthless gunmen in "High Noon" (1952), Fred MacMurray incurs the wrath of an entire outlaw gang for killing their bandit leader. In both films, the hero must stand alone because his friends had abandoned him. Although this western appears blandly routine, "At Gunpoint" emerges as a sturdy, realistic western with a first-rate cast and an imaginative storyline with a surprise ending. Compared with traditional westerns where the gun-toting hero is a lawman or an outlaw, the "At Gunpoint" hero looks definitely non-traditional. Rarely do we see storekeepers elevated to a status of heroic prominence from the obscurity of the periphery where such characters are confined.

"At Gunpoint" opens with the five-member Dennis gang riding into the sleepy little town of Plainview, Texas, where they rob the bank. During the robbery, an overzealous bank teller tries to thwart them and they gun him down. As they are riding out of town, the bank robbers kill elderly Marshal MacKay (Harry Shannon of "The Tall Men") before he can get off a single shot. Amid all the gunfire, storekeeper Jack Wright (Fred MacMurray of "The Texas Rangers") retrieves MacKay's six-gun and miraculously nails gang chieftain Alvin Dennis (John Pickard of "Black Horse Canyon")with a single shot. Another courageous citizen George Henderson (Frank Ferguson of "Rancho Notorious") knocks Dennis out of the saddle with a couple of extra shots. The remainder of the gang has to high tail it rather than get caught in a crossfire. Not only does the Dennis gang lose their leader, but also Alvin Dennis was carrying the bag with the bank's loot in it when Wright and Henderson plugged him. Naturally, everybody in Plainview is proud of Wright's sharp shooting and both Wright and Henderson get their faces on the front page of the local newspaper. When Alvin's hot-blooded brother Bob (Skip Homeier of "Tomorrow The World") learns the identities of the two men who shot and killed his Alvin, he vows vengeance.

Meanwhile, Plainview holds a celebration at the saloon to honor their heroes. In one of the film's best lines, Wright jokes about the circumstances of his shooting: "You're looking at the man who shot the notorious Alvin Dennis from a distance of half a mile... with a slingshot." Initially, the townsfolk want Jack Wright to follow in Marshal MacKay's footsteps as their next lawman, but he refuses because he owns and operates the only general store in town, so they persuade family man George Henderson to accept the badge. On the way out of town after the celebration, George runs into Bob and his fellow gang members and they gun him down in cold blood.

After Henderson's murder, the townspeople live in fear that the Dennis gang will return and kill Jack Wright. They are so afraid of this prospect that they don't want to be around Jack any more than they must so they stop shopping at this store and they forbid their children from playing with his son. Things calm down for a couple of weeks while a Federal marshal (Harry Lauter of "Three Outlaws") arrives in Plainview to write a report about the bank robbery and to see that Jack received his reward money for killing Alvin Dennis. Despite the repeated requests of the town fathers for the Federal marshal to stick around, the lawman dismisses their anxiety and suggests that the Dennis gang has probably left the state. After all, he points out that posses are scouring the countryside for them. Late one evening, Bob Dennis rides into town, knocks insistently at the door to Jack Wright's store and shoots the man who comes to the door. Unfortunately, the man who answered the door was Jack Wright's brother-in-law Wally (James O'Hara of "Death of a Gunfighter") and Jack's wife Martha (Dorothy Malone of "Basic Instinct") is traumatized because she realized that the gunman thought that Wally was Jack.

What sets "At Gunpoint" apart from most westerns is its sense of realism. Nothing happens here that couldn't happen in real life. Jack Wright knows that he made a lucky shot, despite the congratulations that he receives from his fellow citizens who insist that he is a crack shot. In the end, when the Dennis gang comes after Jack and he has a gun in hand, every bullet that he fires misses them. Jack was an everyday person before the shooting and he is still the same after the shooting. Most films would have made him a crack shot with no practice after he shot the outlaw. The cowardly town citizens who begin to shun him after they realize that the gang is waiting for the opportune time to shoot him resemble the pusillanimous citizens in "High Noon" who refuse to help their lawman that requests their help after the three gunmen begin to stalk him. The ending in "At Gunpoint," however, differs considerably from "High Noon" and that is one of the film's saving graces. The Fred MacMurray character never considers himself an accurate shot, but he realizes that he cannot run from the Dennis gang. The suspense and tension that Werker generates in this modest but top-notch western between the time that Henderson is shot and the gang returns is a tribute to his talent as a director.


Fred MacMurray was not fond of his westerns, his most famous quote was that "the horse and I were never as one". But he rode no horses in At Gunpoint. MacMurray plays the town storekeeper who takes up a weapon and together with Frank Ferguson shoots Jack Pickard head of a gang trying to rob John Qualen's bank. He gets the outlaw leader and saves the money. The town acclaims him and Ferguson, but Ferguson is ambushed by the same gang outside town, MacMurray becomes the town leper.

Comparisons have been made with High Noon, but I think this resembles more 3:10 to Yuma and Johnny Concho. In those two westerns we had citizen heroes as opposed to cowboy heroes. There's no resemblance to John Wayne in MacMurray's role.

Even his wife Dorothy Malone wants him to leave, but MacMurray wants to stay. His only friend is the town doctor Walter Brennan.

This is a very good if somewhat unconventional western. Keep an eye on Skip Homeier as well. He's playing once again an evil punk.
Dead Samurai

Dead Samurai

Acting and production (including music) are top notch. Screenplay is well written. Entire cast is made up of major stars and great character actors which made this an entirely worthwhile "Saturday Matinée" in its day. Although not noted, this is a color film of about 81 minutes in length. There are some on-screen shootings & deaths ... but no blood; it could easily have received a "General Audience" rating.

A pirated VHS tape version of this film was distributed in the USA in 1992/1993 by "Dominican Releasing, Puerto Rico" under the title "SMOKIN' BARREL"; This version (shamefully) cut-out all original titles and credits and simply replaced them with the two-worded opening title "SMOKIN BARREL" and a two-worded closing title "THE END"; there was no other information. The quality of this tape, recorded in the EP mode, was extremely poor visually with blurred images and in high contrast; it was almost unviewable (although the sound was acceptable). The tape's box had numerous errors in the credits ... crediting Vaughn Monroe & child actor Billy Gray (I) as being in the film (they were not) ... and leaving off one of the two main stars ... Fred MacMurray ... as well as the actual child star Tommy Rettig. It also states the film is rated "R" (believe me, AT GUNPOINT is NOT an "R" film). Avoid "Smokin Barrel" ... but definitely see any other good quality legitimate versions of this very good film.


AT GUNPOINT is a typical Allied Artist B+ western: top lead actors (Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Malone, Walter Brennan), good direction and camerawork, ambitious if overwrought score by Carmen Dragon and a spotty script by Daniel Ullman -- great situations and scenes, some awful dialogue.

When some bank robbers hit a small town, storekeeper Fred MacMurray picks up a gun and squeezes off a shot -- and by a miracle brings down a bad guy a half mile away. Hurray! But the dead man's brother wants his vengeance.... and keeps killing the wrong man, resulting in the town turning against its former hero.

Westerns are among the oldest of film genres, and along the way they accumulated so much baggage that they became symbolic fiction, like science fiction and fantasy (which has largely replaced them in the cinema). This movie has a strong political message, which it delivers, ultimately, overtly. This weakens it. A better western with political commentary, like HIGH NOON, could leave its subtext in the subtext. Still, for fans of B westerns, it's a lot of fun to see some money spent on a favored form of fun.


During the 1950s, 90% of the westerns were based around two plots: the evil baddie who (often secretly) is trying to force everyone off their land as well as the town that's too cowardly to stand up and fight against evil. There have been tons of films based around these themes and "At Gunpoint" uses the second theme--the same one in "High Noon" and many other westerns. Just because things like this never actually occurred in the old west didn't seem to matter!

The film begins with a gang robbing a bank in a sleepy little town. They kill a teller and the town comes out to try and stop the robbery. One of the locals gets off a lucky shot...and kills the gang leader. His hot-headed brother (Skip Homeier) is determined to come back to town and get revenge. The first one they kill is the Sheriff and eventually they're coming back for the guy who fired the lucky shot, Jack Wright (Fred MacMurray). However, one by one, the townsfolk provide to be cowardly weenies and it looks like Jack is just gonna get his head blown off sooner or later!

The film is so, so familiar--so much so that even with some very nice acting and production values, it's just another western. Well done...and at least the ending itself was original.


Fred MacMurray is a peaceful shopkeeper who kills one of the Dennis gang with a lucky shot. The rest escape. MacMurray becomes a hero throughout the state of Texas. The remaining five members of the gang determine to kill him. The other town residents know it and begin to avoid MacMurray. They offer to stake him to a new store in far away Amarillo. Should MacMurray hide his tail between his legs, pack up his loving wife and adorable kid, and skip town? Are you kidding? This is a routine 1950s Western. There must have been hundreds of them ground out, intrigues and drama in a studio-built town with one dusty main street, flanked by a dozen building fronts made of wooden planks. Here, the core issues of Heartland America were on display -- bravery, cowardice, love, treachery, and the question of what you do with a neighbor in your tidy suburb who refuses to mow his lawn as often as everyone else. The 1960s were a transitional period, turbulent and full of excess and challenge. By the 1970s, the issues had changed to corruption and street crime and the milieu in which these dramas were played out was changed to the city streets.

But this is from the 1950s. And was released five years after the wildly successful "High Noon" with Gary Cooper as the upholder of reticent righteousness.

In "High Noon," a couple of gunmen are returning to town to kill Cooper because he "sent up" the viperous Frank Miller. In "At Gunpoint," the same number of gunmen are coming back to town to kill Cooper, I mean MacMurray, because he accidentally shot a gang member who was the brother of another.

The rest of the story is familiar. The gang sneaks in at night and murders the town marshall. Everyone knows they will come back and take care of MacMurray too. As in "High Noon" the town gradually marginalizes the well-meaning shopkeeper and his family, but he refuses to leave town because a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. His wife, Dorothy Malone, plays Grace Kelly and disparages his attempts to maintain his self esteem but, unlike Kelly, she's quickly won over. We see the gang riding into town for the final show down. We see the scared MacMurray behind a couple of barrels on the street corner, taking a few shots at them that miss their marks by seven hundred yards. The gang trot on towards MacMurray, grim and determined.

Now, this is not the kind of movie that has any tricks up its sleeve. That's the whole point -- it should be comforting in its predictability. For instance, one of the character we meet at the beginning is the harmless, smiling, younger brother of Malone. There's no particular reason for his being there. He's always in the background being pleasant, but this story concerns MacMurray and Malone -- not MacMurray and Malone and Malone's BROTHER. Discerning viewers, those with the aficion for old movies, will recognize immediately that this character is DEAD MEAT. And so he is.

Well, for the gang to continue its trot up the powdery street, right on up to the helpless Fred MacMurray, whom they then shoot full of holes, is unacceptable. Not because it wouldn't happen in real life but because it would surprise and challenge the audience. The only alternatives are (1) MacMurray to have four MORE lucky shots left in his Colt, or (2) the townsmen relent and capture or kill the gang. There are no other possibilities that don't involve supernatural intervention. No power on earth could force me to reveal which alternative the movie chooses.

Oh -- those viewers with the aficion for old movies will recognize a lot of faces in the supporting case: Walter Brennan, Whit Bissell, the miscreant Jack Lambert, Harry Shannon (cf., "Citizen Kane"), John Qualen, and Frank Ferguson.

Social psychologists will note the illustration of one of the more surprising findings of cognitive balance theory. Take a person who holds attitude A and opposes attitude B. Tell him that you'll pay him to act AS IF he holds attitude B. After he argues for attitude B long enough, he'll lose his belief in A and genuinely switch to B. In "At Gunpoint," the townspeople are friendly to storekeeper MacMurray. After the first shooting, they begin to avoid him out of fear for themselves and their families. Pretty soon, after they've acted as if he had the plague, they come not to like MacMurray very much and want to get rid of him. They begin with attitude A, act AS IF they held attitude B, and finally FEEL attitude B. They don't even congratulate him when his reward check comes, and they don't say thanks when he buys them a ceremonial drink at the saloon. Have you non-psychologists grasped the point? Good. That will be ten cents.