Cast & Crew
A few years after the Civil War, Georgian Jennifer Ballard rides a California-bound stage across Arizona to meet her fiancé, rancher Ben Warren. Unknown to her, a fellow passenger traveling under the name of Hamilton is really notorious outlaw Frank Slayton, a bitter former Confederate. Riding with Slayton is his right-hand man, Jess Burgess. With an Army escort to protect the payroll box, the stage stops at a small town overnight and the guards proceed to a nearby fort for replacements. Jennifer is surprised by the appearance of Ben, who has ridden out to make the rest of the trip with her. Slayton, attracted to Jennifer's graceful manner, is annoyed by Ben's arrival, but invites the pair to dine with him. When Slayton turns the conversation to the war, Ben, also a former Confederate, declares the experience left him weary of violence and preferring compromise and peace. Later, Jess cuts in on Slayton as he dances with Jennifer and advises her that she and Ben should take another stage the next morning. Determined to get to California and marry as soon as possible, the couple sticks with Slayton. The following morning, the stage sets off with the Army escort, who have secretly been replaced by members of Slayton's gang. Midway across the desert, the gang stops the stage and kills the driver. Slayton informs the passengers of his real identity, and when Ben attempts to commandeer the horse team, shoots him. Leaving Ben for dead, Slayton and the gang takes the payroll box and Jennifer to their hideout. Later, Jess intervenes as Slayton is about to force himself on Jennifer and questions him about the wisdom of taking her with them. Slayton beats Jess up and has him bound to the fence outside in the sweltering sun, then departs. Meanwhile, Ben, who has only been grazed, revives in the desert, finds one of the stage horses and follows the tracks to the hideout, where he discovers an unconscious Jess. Ben restores Jess, who asks to accompany him in search of Slayton, explaining he has grown discontent with Slayton's increasingly malevolent behavior. He informs Ben that the gang is headed for their primary hideout in Mexico, and the two set off on Ben's horse. The next day, they come across sheep ranchers, who sell them a horse and guns and report seeing a gang of men with a woman the night before. The ranchers decline to help Ben and Jess in their hunt, as do the men in a nearby small town. However, a local Indian, Johash, overhears them talking and follows them as they ride on to the next town. In the saloon, Ben makes another unsuccessful plea for assistance and is overheard by two of Slayton's gang. They slip away only to run into Jess, who shoots one of the outlaws. Ben and Jess follow the other, but lose him as he returns to Slayton's camp to report that Ben is alive. Slayton orders the men not to tell Jennifer, who has already attempted an escape. That night as they near the Mexican border, Ben wants to press on, but Jess insists they rest the horses. Later, Johash jumps the sleeping Jess, but Ben comes to his rescue. After Johash explains that Slayton took his sister and left her to die, the men agree to allow Johash to accompany them. The following day, one of the gang, Curly Jordan, tells Jennifer that Ben is following and that he will help her escape. Slayton is suspicious when Curly creates a diversion, however, and both he and Jennifer are quickly apprehended. Slayton insists that Ben is dead and orders Curly staked to the ground and he is trampled to death by the men's horses as they depart. The gang moves on to the small Morales homestead, where Slayton's former girl friend Estella greets them with enthusiasm, until she spots Jennifer. The men get fresh horses and depart with the jealous Estella, who pursues them until gang member Blinky causes her to be thrown from her horse. Estella is later found by Ben and the others, who take her with them. While Slayton's gang rests near the border at Pete Barratto's bar, many of the men mutter against Slayton's hard drive, which they blame on Jennifer's presence. Jennifer appeals to the women at Barratto's to help her, but they are afraid of Slayton. Later that night, Slayton forces himself on Jennifer. The next morning, Estella, who has left Ben's camp, tries to attack Slayton and tells him that Ben and Jess are on their way. Alarmed to learn that Jess is alive, Slayton offers to exchange Jennifer for Jess when Ben and Jess catch up. Ben agrees to meet Slayton to hear the details, but insists that Jess must decide for himself. Hoping that by returning to Slayton he might get the money he is owed, Jess agrees. The next day at the exchange point, Jennifer is reunited with Ben, but Slayton murders Jess immediately. Furious, Ben insists on pursuing Slayton, despite Jennifer's pleas against resorting to violence. Ben, Jennifer and Johash trail the gang and at the hideout commandeer the house's only water source. A few gang members, exhausted by the hard drive, flee in desperation but are killed by Ben and Johash. Slayton attempts to escape using Estella as a shield, but she breaks away, only to be shot by Slayton. Ben chases Slayton into the hills, where they fight until Johash appears and knifes Slayton in the back. Ben and Jennifer are at last free to continue on to California in peace.
Robert E. Griffin
Lewis J. Rachmil
Lester H. White
Directed by Hollywood veteran Raoul Walsh (The Roaring Twenties , High Sierra ) after his peak years at Warner Bros., Gun Fury is a robust and entertaining action adventure that fills all of the requirements of a modestly-budgeted genre film. The stunning natural settings (filmed near Sedona, Arizona) and brisk pacing are major assets but the real draw here is the ensemble cast which includes two of the screen's greatest heavies as sidekicks of the disreputable Slayton Lee Marvin is Blinky and Neville Brand is Brazos. Both actors make the most of their minor roles but Marvin has the edge, particularly in a sequence where he tries to put the moves on Slayton's wildcat Mexican mistress Estella (Roberta Haynes) and she knocks him senseless. Nobody, however, matches Phil Carey for on-screen villainy in this film; he chews up the scenery with gusto as the wicked, amoral Slayton. Yet, despite the over-the-top nature of the performances particularly Rock Hudson's pacifist turned bloodthirsty avenger there is genuine tension generated throughout, particularly in regards to Donna Reed's victimized heroine. The threat of gang rape is implied throughout and the character of Jennifer is never glamorized; in fact, she is subjected to one physical ordeal after another, particularly after one escape attempt where she is tied and dragged behind by a horse.
Gun Fury was based on the novel Ten Against Caesar by Robert A. Granger and adapted for the screen by Roy Huggins (an Emmy nominated TV writer best known for Captains and the Kings and Run For Your Life) and best-selling novelist Irving Wallace (The Chapman Report, The Prize). It is also interesting to note that Gun Fury was one of five films that Donna Reed made in 1953, the other four being Trouble Along the Way, Raiders of the Seven Seas, The Caddy and From Here to Eternity, the movie that earned her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar®.
TCM will air Gun Fury in the flat Technicolor version minus the 3-D effects although it would be fun to see knives, logs, rocks and various objects being thrown at the camera. But just as Variety noted in their review of the movie, "Even without 3-D Columbia's Gun Fury would be a superior western" and The Hollywood Reporter confirmed it by calling it "a hard-driving affair smacking of authenticity and well thought out construction."
Producer: Lewis J. Rachmil
Director: Raoul Walsh
Screenplay: Irving Wallace, Roy Huggins, based on the novel Ten Against Caesar by Kathleen B. George & Robert A. Granger
Cinematography: Lester White
Art Direction: Ross Bellah
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff, Arthur Morton
Film Editing: James Sweeney, Jerome Thoms
Cast: Rock Hudson (Ben Warren), Donna Reed (Jennifer Ballard), Philip Carey (Frank Slayton), Roberta Haynes (Estella Morales), Leo Gordon (Tom 'Jess' Burgess), Lee Marvin (Blinky), Neville Brand (Brazos).
by Jeff Stafford
Lee Marvin: His Films and Career by Robert J. Lentz (McFarland)
Lee: A Memoir by Pamela Marvin (Faber & Faber)
Rock Hudson suffered an attack of appendicitis on the last day of filming.
Originally filmed in 3D.
According to a Daily Variety news item, Columbia purchased the novel Ten Against Caesar in galley form and assigned the film to producer Oscar Saul. Saul's contribution to the final film, if any, has not been determined.
Released in United States 1953
Released in United States 1953