Wichita (1955)Closed Captioning
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An all-star cast headed by Joel McCrea ("The Virginian," "Foreign Correspondent") is featured in this classic Western about Wyatt Earp, who concedes to the pleas of the town leaders and accepts the dangerous job as law enforcement officer in the wild settlement of Wichita in 1874. Always a popular story, particularly with the recent theatrical pictures, "Tombstone" and "Wyatt Earp."
I downloaded this film because the movie critic of a national publication picked Witchita as his old movie of the week. He thinks that it is a parable about law and order--gun control in particular; that the director used the film to bring many important issues on this subject to light. The critic reminds me of those academics desperately trying to find a new subject for their thesis that pick on an obscure author or work and mine it for themes of major importance but dig up fool’s gold.
This movie is a typical, traditional Hollywood western with a poorly written script and some mediocre acting that tells a story with as much reality and believability as the lowest of pulp fiction plots.
Cowboys shooting up the town kill a five year-old boy and slightly wound a saloon girl. The marshal arrests the cowboys for disorderly conduct. No one in the town seems upset that a boy was killed—no reaction is shown by the townspeople. Since the boy’s death is ignored, the scrip must have the wife of the town’s richest, most powerful man—who opposed banning guns in town--accidently shot by the bad guys. Now some reaction is shown, the killers brought to justice and the marshal’s strict law and order approach justified.
The plot is just too simplified and unrealistic. But then, there’s the school shootings in several states with the NRA vs. law and order and the great majority of citizens’ wishes ignored. Maybe the director was on to something.
On the level of action and fights, the movie reverts to the early style of shooting six-guns from the hands of bad guys and a bloodless fistfight. The action is too stylized is generate much excitement.
For excellent movies with a message that were also made in the 1950s, see High Noon or Shane.
This is an under the radar western that should be considered a classic. The writing and directing are top notch as is the cinematography. The narrative is tight and the story a good one. Recommended.
- Genre: Western
- Released: 1955
- © Wichita 1955/Renewed 1983, Package Design 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.