Last Train from Gun Hill, a classic Western from John Sturges, makes its arrival on Blu-ray by way of the Paramount Presents line.
Sturges is one of the greatest filmmakers in the genre. While this isn’t his best film, it’s certainly not bad for the era in which it was released. A few aggravations about the plot notwithstanding, of course. The Western, presented in VistaVision and shot in Technicolor, becomes the 18th title to join the Paramount Presents line. It’s been beautifully remastered in 6K from the original VistaVision negative. Honestly, the picture couldn’t be more beautiful. It beautifully shows off the sets and locations on the Paramount lot and in Arizona. I mean, I’m watching the film on a 43″ TV and the image is just so pristine.
U.S. Marshal Matt Morgan (Kirk Douglas) searching for his wife’s killer. It’s just frustrating that rape happens to be a part of what drives the plot. I fully understand that this is what went for the era but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. But anyway, the script certainly knows how to add some drama to the plot. The suspect’s father is none other than Morgan’s longtime friend, cattle rancher Craig Beldon (Anthony Quinn). How about that for a twist?!? Anyway, Morgan is fully intent to not only capture the killer but take him away no later than the 9:00 PM train. This is going to be easier said than done, of course.
The film also served as a reunion between director John Sturges and actors Kirk Douglas and Earl Hollimon. They had worked together a few years earlier on Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. To no surprise, both films used much of the same crew. When one watches through a contemporary lens, there’s certainly problematic casting. Listen, I’m all for casting Israeli actors but if you’re casting a Native American character, maybe try casting Native Americans instead of Israeli-Americans. Ziva Rodann stars as Marshal Matt Morgan’s wife, Catherine Morgan. But alas, casting practices in the 1950s aren’t what they are today. That being said, I’m surprised she wasn’t cast in The Ten Commandments! However, she was subsequently cast in The Story of Ruth as Naomi’s daughter-in-law. But I digress…
Going back to the location shooting, a lot of scenes were shot in Arizona. The scenery combined with VistaVision and Technicolor just make it a match made in heaven. I mean, the footage is just stunning. The images on location just do not compare to the images on the Paramount backlot. It’s still good footage but one can tell the difference.
Like the other Paramount Presents titles, the Blu-ray comes with a collectible package and Digital copy. Because John Sturges is no longer with us, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin provides commentary in a Filmmaker Focus feature.
John Sturges certainly delivers the goods in Last Train from Gun Hill and the VistaVision presentation is outstanding on screen.
- Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin on Last Train from Gun Hill
- Original Theatrical Trailers
DIRECTOR: John Sturges
SCREENWRITER: James Poe
CAST: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn, Carolyn Jones, Earl Hollimon