The Last Challenge
The Last Challenge is a 1967 Metrocolor Western in Panavision, produced and directed by Richard Thorpe (marking his final film). The film starred Glenn Ford and Angie Dickinson and centered around a town sheriff contending with his reputation as the "fastest gun in the West." It is also known under the titles of Pistolero and The Pistolero of Red River.
|The Last Challenge|
Original film poster
|Directed by||Richard Thorpe|
|Produced by||Richard Thorpe|
|Written by||Robert Emmett Ginna, John Sherry|
|Based on||Pistolero's Progress|
by John Sherry
|Music by||Richard Shores|
|Edited by||Richard W. Farrell|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)|
|December 27, 1967|
The Last Challenge was adapted from Pistolero's Progress, a novel by John Sherry (John Olden Sherry) and published by Pocket Books in 1966. It is widely and falsely reported that the screenplay for The Last Challenge was written by Albert Maltz, the blacklisted writer. The confusion is due to Maltz' use of the pseudonym John B. Sherry.
Peter Ford in his biography of his father Glenn Ford: A Life noted, "Oddly the picture Dad made after The Last Challenge, called Day of the Evil Gun, was directed by Jerry Thorpe, Richard's son. This must be the only case in film history where the same star made back-to-back movies directed first by a father and then by his son".
A cocky young man from Tennessee, Lot McGuire (Chad Everett), seeks to back up his notion that he's the fastest gun there is. "If a man is second best, he might as well be dead," says McGuire. He travels to a town with the intention of forcing a duel with Marshal Dan Blaine (Glenn Ford), who's renowned for his skill with a gun.
Brothel owner Lisa Denton (Angie Dickinson) loves Blaine, has marriage in mind and will do anything to ensure that happens. She hires a down-and-out drifter, Scarnes (Jack Elam), to kill McGuire. Scarnes and Blaine did time together in prison for a bank robbery many years ago, after which Blaine decided to do something good with his life, and became a lawman.
Outside of town, Scarnes ambushes McGuire and kills his horse, but during a shootout is gut-shot. McGuire finds out from a dying Scarnes that Lisa hired him. Lisa tells of her love for Blaine and asks Lot to leave town. He refuses.
Knowing a showdown is coming, Lisa grabs a Derringer pistol and decides to kill McGuire, but a disgusted Blaine takes the gun away. The two men meet at the bar and the showdown occurs there rather than in the street. McGuire draws his revolver (which is worn in a reverse fashion) first and fires. Blaine shoots him in the chest. A stunned McGuire dies, eyes open and speechless.
Blaine notices he has been shot in the side, but it is not fatal. The next day as McGuire's casket is being lowered into the ground, Blaine removes his gun and holster and throws them into the grave. He rides out of town without a gun, as Lisa watches from the saloon steps, crying.
- Glenn Ford as Marshal Dan Blaine
- Angie Dickinson as Lisa Denton
- Chad Everett as Lot McGuire
- Gary Merrill as Squint Calloway
- Jack Elam as Ernest Scarnes
- Delphi Lawrence as Marie Webster
- Royal Dano as Pretty Horse
- Kevin Hagen as Frank Garrison
- Florence Sundstrom as Outdoors
- Marian Collier as Sadie
- Robert Sorrells as Deputy Harry Bell
- John Milford as Billy Turpin
- Frank McGrath as Ballard Weeks
The New York Times in an unsigned review while complimentary about the cast and that the screenplay was "lean and uncluttered" concluded it was, "a small picture -- small, painless and pointless."
- Frustration trying to correct misinformation!!
- Peter Ford. Glenn Ford: A Life. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011. p. 240.
- Screen: 'Last Challenge': Cowpoke Doesn't Trust Over-30 Glenn Ford