Pauline Kael once described a movie as a bad paying job with wonderful fringe benefits, and I suppose that statement would perfectly express your thoughts after watching the Glenn Ford Western "The Fastest Gun Alive." Ford starred in far superior Westerns than this--3:10 to Yuma, Jubal--but none with the kind of fringe benefits we get with this one. First, we get to watch the obvious city slicker Broderick Crawford as a gun slinging outlaw; second, we get to observe the lithesome Russ Tamblyn in a completely inexplicable--but flawlessly executed--dance scene that doesn't add anything to the story; and third, we get to see the usually tough Glenn Ford play an emasculated operator of a general store. He's hiding a big secret, however--he's the fastest gun alive. Being the fastest gun alive, he decides he's just not going to take it anymore (adios meek and mild!). The whole affair is charmingly absurd and campy, and makes for one heck of a channel surfin' curiosity. My father saw this cowboy programmer as an excited little boy making bets with the other kiddies as to which of the two fast draws would win. They all thought our handsome hero was done for!!! Serious Western buffs (myself included) may very well regard this as one of the more unique and offbeat offerings in the annals of the genre. By the way, the director, Russel Rouse, wrote and directed some other interesting films. Most recommended is "The Thief," a 1952 spy thriller starring Ray Milland. It comes with a gimmick, albeit an effective one: the movie has not one line of dialogue spoken for its entire running time! You might hear a car drive by or a phone ring, but other than that Milland's physical performance helps to generate suspense. I know, Sounds contrived, and it is, but it works quite well!
*** Three Stars