The western, like the horror film, is a genre that runs so deep that it's possible to constantly be surprised even after one has caught up on the established classics. A couple times a year I stumble across a new one -- usually something low-budget or offbeat -- that I've never seen or in some cases never even heard of and am pleasantly surprised. That's what happened with the 1957 western The Quiet Gun, a movie I might have ever known about if not for the new Blu-ray from Olive Films.
File The Quiet Gun under Another Movie Olive Films Have Rescued from Obscurity, as this is a movie of which I was completely unaware despite the fact that it's completely terrific. Lee Van Cleef is being used as one of the big selling points, and I get it -- who isn't excited at the prospect of seeing Lee Van Cleef in a western? But the truth is that he's not in the movie that much, and he's certainly not a huge factor in its success (he is still great as always). That's due more to the screenplay by Eric Norden or the novel Law Man by Lauran Paine on which the script is based. It's due to the tight, tough direction by William F. Claxton (who would go on to direct Night of the Lepus, because they can't all be winners), and the striking black and white widescreen photography John Mescall, which, it should be noted, looks incredible on the Blu-ray.
The Quiet Gun plays a lot like High Noon for people who find High Noon to be a bit too square. It exists in a much more ambiguous, grey area than that film; there are black hats and white hats, sure, but also steps in between. As a fan of black and white '50s westerns who doesn't always have the patience for Fordian traditionalism, the movie is a breath of fresh air. What a great discovery this is.
Blu-ray release date: March 31, 2015
DTS HD 2.0 Mono Master Audio (English)
Buy The Quiet Gun from Olive Films here