Twenty-four "victims" had died before his lightning draw...until he came to the quiet town that had marked him for death!

When hired killer John Gant rides into Lordsburg, the town's folk become paranoid as each leading citizen has enemies capable of using the services of a professional killer for personal revenge.

He could be as innocent as a baby, but the things that are happening here are still his fault.
John Gant is a hired assassin, whenever he rides into a town the whole townsfolk wonder who it is who is on his list. John Gant is a very shrewed assassin for he never gets arrested because he never draws first, he psychologically gets under his targets skins forcing them to shoot first, and John Gant always has witnesses. Today, John Gant has rode into Lordsburg, and from today things will never be the same again...
In CinemaScope and Eastman Color
Directed by Jack Arnold, we open with a vision of sprawling hills and a vast landscape (DOP: Harold Lipstein), a man handsomely attired in pristine black clothing trots past on his shiny black horse, he gathers pace and gallops off over the hills, we next see him trotting into Lordsburg, elegance and grace oozing from his pores. This is John Gant, also known as Audie Murphy, and for me we are introduced to one of the greatest Western characters outside of the critics favoured lists of usual suspects.
Audie Murphy had his critics, he himself hardly went out of his way to embrace stardom and pander to the ink scribblers, but here as Gant is a performance of icy cold wonderment that in my opinion proves any doubters wrong. Gant rides into Lordsburg and his mere presence sends the town into panic, friends and associates implode with suspicion whilst Gant just calmly floats amongst them with little leers and low speaking pearls of wisdom. As Gant forms a weird sort of friendship with Charles Drake's Dr. Luke Canfield, the picture gains some much needed heart, and once the finale arrives it helps to close the picture on a hugely rewarding note.
The film reminded me very much of a Twilight Zone episode called The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, it's a great story to work from {courtesy of Howard Amacker}, because it's morally suspicious and it has characters always on the brink of breaking the law through the sheer worry of their sins and dubious intentions coming back to get them. My only real complaints are that the film is far to short, not sure if it was down to budget or acting restrictions? But clocking in at just 77 minutes I personally feel that another 15 minutes was a must to fully flesh out the finale, and sadly the exterior filming of the gorgeous locale is sparse, which is most galling after the attention grabbing opening shots. However, the film still works a treat and comes highly recommended to even those who don't like Westerns. 8/10

Universal International Pictures by Jack Arnold, Gene L. Coon, Howard Amacker.
Stars: Audie Murphy, Charles Drake, Joan Evans.

Genres: Western

Keywords: hitman

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