Gun the Man Down

Gun the Man Down is a 1956 Western film directed by Andrew V. McLaglen and starring James Arness and Angie Dickinson in her first leading role. The film was produced by Robert E. Morrison for his brother John Wayne's company Batjac Productions. It was the second theatrical feature directed by McLaglen, who was a prolific director of television westerns.

Gun the Man Down
DVD cover
Directed byAndrew V. McLaglen
Produced byRobert E. Morrison
Screenplay byBurt Kennedy
Story bySam C. Freedle
StarringJames Arness
Angie Dickinson
Music byHenry Vars
CinematographyWilliam H. Clothier
Edited byEverett Sutherland
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 15, 1956 (1956-11-15)
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States


Three outlaws rob a bank, but one of them is wounded. His two partners kidnap his girlfriend, take his share of the money and run off, leaving him to be captured by the sheriff. One year later, after he gets out of prison, he goes in search of his double-crossing partners and his girlfriend. He finds them in a semi-deserted, run-down town, but instead of killing them right away, he decides to play cat-and-mouse with them first.


Production notes

Gun the Man Down remains arguably most notable for containing actress Angie Dickinson's first starring (credited) role. She would go on to star in successful films such as Rio Bravo opposite John Wayne and Dean Martin, Ocean's Eleven with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, Captain Newman, M.D. opposite Gregory Peck, The Killers (in which she's slapped in the face by villain Ronald Reagan) and Point Blank, both opposite Lee Marvin, and The Chase with Marlon Brando and Robert Redford.

James Arness was recommended by Gun the Man Down uncredited producer John Wayne for the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in the television version of Gunsmoke, a part Arness played for the next twenty years. Wayne introduced the series in a film clip shown immediately before the initial episode while dressed in cowboy garb and speaking directly to the camera. Arness had earlier portrayed the Frankenstein-like "carrot monster" glimpsed in flashes and the conclusion of Howard Hawks' 1951 version of The Thing. Arness, possibly on his was to becoming a fixation in science fiction films, also starred in the 1954 giant ant movie Them! in his natural blonde hair. Arness' brother was actor Peter Graves.

Andrew V. McLaglen, the film's director, was the son of actor and former boxer Victor McLaglen, and went on to direct ninety-six episodes of Gunsmoke starring James Arness, as well as five movies starring John Wayne, among many others. Gun the Man Down also remains notable for being the first of many westerns McLaglen directed.

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