Shoot Out – 1971
Will James – novel
Marguerite Roberts – screenplay
Robert F. Lyons
Review by John Rouse Merriott Chard
Ever hear of a Switzer, name of William Tell?
Shoot Out is directed by Henry Hathaway and adapted to the screen by Marguerite Roberts from the novel The Lone Cowboy by Will James. It stars Gregory Peck, Patricia Quinn, Robert F. Lyons, Susan Tyrrell and Dawn Lyn. Music is by Dave Grusin and cinematography by Earl Rath. Plot has Peck playing Clay Lomax, who is out of prison after 7 years and seeking revenge on the partner who shot him in the back during a robbery. But Lomax soon finds he has company in the young child form of Decky Ortega (Lyn), who has been sent to him by his one time lover Teresa, sadly now deceased.
Just do your little chore, punk.
It took a whack from critics of the day, and even now it only seems to have a handful of fans prepared to stand up and say they enjoy it very much. Shoot Out is not a great film, well actually the location work is certainly great, but it is a very rich and warm Western. The problems are hard to argue against, Peck is not adept at playing a vengeful bastard in his later years, the villains are of the near cackling pantomime kind, and a number of cheap money saving tactics are employed by an on the wane Hathaway. Yet the action hits the right notes, Peck’s unfolding relationship with the adorable Lyn is heart warming, and the elder female characters-put upon prostitute desperately seeking a way out (Tyrrell)/plain Jane homemaker who drinks to forget her unfulfilled lot (Quinn)-are afforded intelligence in the writing. While some of the location photography, in Technicolor, is gorgeous as Earl Rath gets excellent value out of the New Mexico and California landscapes. And hey! There’s even a cameo by the always awesome Arthur Hunnicutt.
I’m giving it a generous 7/10 because it’s not deserving of the scorn poured on it elsewhere. If only for the central father/daughter relationship, the scenery and a neat flip-flop pay back scenario, this is recommended to Peck and Western fans.
Just don’t expect True Grit like some apparently did!