On this day, 14 May, in 1971, Support Your Local Gunfighter was first released (strangely, in the UK).
I remembered the film from seeing it in the theater as a kid. I would have been 7-years-old. But all I remembered was the ending where the bad guy (Chuck Connors) freaked out about not wanting to die with his boots on — a reversal on the standard idiom.
Sheriff vs Gunfighter
As with most things when I was a child, it made no sense to me. Nor did I remember the name of the film or even that it was a comedy. As an adult, I was surprised to learn that it was more or less the sequel to Support Your Local Sheriff.
What’s interesting here is that while Sheriff is a pleasant and easily loved comedy, little me can be forgiven for not thinking Gunfighter was a comedy. And I say that as someone who things that it is a far better film.
I think there’s an analogy to computer science here. There is a tendency when creating a second version of a piece of software to fix all the things you thought weren’t quite right in the first version. But normally, this just annoys the users.
But if you get some distance, you can see that the second version really is better. I think all the easy charm of Sheriff is present in Gunfighter. But it was no longer new and so not enough to appeal to viewers. It probably also didn’t help that there is a lot more comedy and that it is more sophisticated.
If you’ve written it off, I encourage you to watch it again. It is funny. It’s just that it’s a lot richer and you have to give it more time.
(Normally, I’d embed the trailer here. But I can’t find one. This film really doesn’t get enough respect.)