Cast & Crew
Lee H. Katzin
The small western town of Vinegaroon is ruled with an iron hand by Asa Beck, a ranch owner waging a savage war against the local sheepmen. When a stranger named Jim Killian rides into town, Beck assumes that he is a gunfighter hired by the sheep herders, but Killian reveals that he is a preacher who has come to open the Mission Church of the Good Shepherd and teach the townspeople that they can live together in peace. Quick to attach herself to Killian is a young Indian named Leloopa, the daughter of a sheep herder hanged by Beck's ruthless son, Coke. After Coke has been soundly beaten by Killian for assaulting Leloopa, the young rancher is slain by one of the sheepmen. Enraged, Beck sends one of his hired killers, Mace, to burn down Killian's church. Although Killian is moved to take revenge, saloon keeper Madge McCloud uses her former friendship with Killian to dissuade him from taking up his gun. Calling together both ranchers and sheepmen, Killian delivers a sermon on peace, only to be exposed as an ex-gunslinger and convict by Mace. Then Beck makes plans to provoke a showdown with the sheepmen by driving his herd to the lake which serves as the town's only water supply. But Killian succeeds in rallying together the wives and children of both ranchers and sheepmen and persuading them to form a human shield at the lakeside. Incapable of shooting at their own families, the ranchers drop their guns and Beck is forced to admit that he has been defeated by the preacher's sermon.
Lee H. Katzin
J. D. Cannon
Noah Beery [jr.]
Miss Eddie Crispell
George W. Davis
Don Greenwood Jr.
William P. Owens
Paul Francis Webster
Heaven With a Gun
Heaven with a Gun was written by Trumbo for the King Brothers. Maurice, Herman and Frank King (formerly Kozinsky) had made a fortune renting jukeboxes, slot machines and pinball machines from their home in Los Angeles predominately Jewish Boyle Heights section. Getting into the film business with more enthusiasm than hands-on knowledge, the brothers hired smart, reliable technicians to crank out their first film, Paper Bullets (1941), an early credit for Alan Ladd, made for a paltry $20,000. (The savvy Kings capitalized on Ladds subsequent success by re-releasing Paper Bullets with Ladds billing moved from sixth place to first). Aligned with Monogram Studios, the Kings purportedly never lost a dime turning out their cheapies and even their more expensive pictures turned a profit.
For the Kings, Trumbo wrote Joseph H. Lewis Gun Crazy (1950, credited to Millard Kaufman) and the Academy Award® winning The Brave One (1956, credited to Robert Rich, a nephew of the King Brothers). By the time that Heaven with a Gun came to fruition, Trumbo had been reinstated as a big ticket screenwriter and his disinclination to be associated with what amounted to a B-picture forced the Kings to bring in another writer to update the property.
Twenty odd years after his seminal roles in Charles Vidors Gilda (1946) and Fritz Langs The Big Heat (1953), 53 year-old Glenn Ford had settled comfortably into westerns, which suited his creased, time-worn appearance. He had played Henry Fondas cowpoke compañero in Burt Kennedys The Rounders (1965) but, while Fonda went on to an atypically villainous turn in Sergio Leones immortal Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Ford continued to ply his stock-in-trade of decent men pushed to the limits of law abiding behavior. Ford is supported by an able cast of jobbing middle-aged character actors such as John Anderson, J.D. Cannon, Noah Beery, Jr., and Harry Townes (who retired from acting to become an Episcopalian minister).
While westerns were so often the last hurrah for fading Hollywood stars of the 40s and 50s, they provided early work for younger actors (e.g. Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper) destined for stardom in the 70s. Meeting for the first time on the Arizona location, cast members David Carradine and Barbara Hershey fell in love mid-production. Glenn Ford approved of the couples off-screen romance but got the wrong idea when he saw Carradine and actress Angelique Pettyjohn slip away to smoke a joint. Thinking Carradine was stepping out on Hershey, Ford gave the actor the cold shoulder for the duration of the shoot.
Despite being shot on the back lot, on location and in widescreen, Heaven with a Gun retains an aura of cost-consciousness, extending to the hiring of TV director Lee H. Katzin and rewrite man Richard Carr. Katzin had honed his craft as a production manager and later assistant director on such weekly series as The Rebel, Rawhide and The Wild Wild West; he was later brought in to replace John Sturges at the helm of Le Mans (1971) when Steve McQueens movie star caprices sent Sturges packing. Carr also benefited from the caprices of Steve McQueen. A reliable writer of teleplays for Racket Squad, Johnny Staccato and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Carr was called in to write new scenes for Don Siegels Hell Is for Heroes (1962) after McQueen had orchestrated the firing of original writer Robert Pirosh. During principal photography of Heaven with a Gun, Carr pitched a screenplay idea, an adaptation of Henry Norton Robinsons 1945 novel The Perfect Round, to Carradine and Hershey. Carradine bought the pitch and optioned the rights from the Robinson estate. Shot over the course of ten years, with Carradine taking on a myriad of other film assignments for completion funds, Americana received a limited theatrical release in 1983, after winning the Peoples Choice Award at the Directors Fortnight of the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.
Producer: Frank King, Maurice King (producer)
Director: Lee H. Katzin
Screenplay: Richard Carr
Cinematography: Fred J. Koenekamp
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Frank Sylos
Music: Johnny Mandel
Film Editing: Dann Cahn
Cast: Glenn Ford (Jim Killian/Pastor Jim), Carolyn Jones (Madge McCloud (saloon owner)), Barbara Hershey (Leloopa (Indian girl)), John Anderson (Asa Beck (cattleman)), David Carradine (Coke Beck (Asa's son)), J.D. Cannon (Mace (Beck's gunman)), Noah Beery, Jr. (Garvey (Beck Ranch ramrod)), Harry Townes (Gus Sampson (storekeeper)), William Bryant (Bart Paterson (cattleman)), Virginia Gregg (Mrs. Patterson).
C-101m. Closed Captioning.
by Richard Harland Smith
Dalton Trumbo, Hollywood Rebel: A Critical Survey and Filmography by Peter Hanson (McFarland Publishing, 2007)
Endless Highway by David Carradine (Journey Editions, 1995)
Roundtable discussion on You and Me and Americana by Chris Poggiali, John Charles and Marty McKee, Temple of Schlock, www.templeofschlock.blogspot.com
David Carradine interview by Dan Skye, High Times, December 2002
Barbara Hershey interview by Karen G. Jackovich, People, May 1979
Steve McQueen, King of Cool: Takes of a Lurid Life by Darwin Porter (Blood Moon Productions, 2009)
The King Brothers: Ex-pinball kings move into the big movie money as makers of crude, popular cheapies, Life, November 22, 1948
The Philip Yordan Story by Alan K. Rode, Noir City Sentinel, November/December 200
Heaven With a Gun
Location scenes filmed in Arizona.
Released in United States Spring May 1969
Released in United States Spring May 1969