Cast & Crew
Richard L. Bare
To begin civilian life, Capt. Buff Devlin, Sgt. Johnny Maitland and Pvt. Wilbur Clegg, Union Army solders who have recently mustered out, ride to the Nebraska settlement where Devlin's brother Dan lives. When they arrive, the little community is under Indian attack, but the soldiers' appearance prompts the Indians to flee. Because of defective ammunition, Dan, unable to defend himself, has been killed. Afterward, upon learning from Dan's neighbors that the ammunition, as well as other defective items, were purchased in the town of Medicine Creek, Dan and his cohorts decide to go there to investigate. Before they leave, the settlers trust the soldiers with money and valuables to buy a list of needed supplies. Amy, Dan's widow, gives Devlin his mother's locket to purchase needed items for herself and her children. En route, the soldiers camp near a creek. While bathing, their uniforms, horses and valuables are stolen by three men, who then disguise themselves as soldiers to rob a nearby Quaker camp. Naked, except for judiciously placed leaves, Devlin, Johnny and Wilbur walk to the Quaker camp, where they are received with hospitality and given "plain" clothes. Upon arriving in Medicine Bend, they soon learn that the town is under the control of corrupt Ep Clark, owner of a general store, saloon and other local businesses. By selling defective merchandise at high prices and using thugs to run competition out of town, Clark has created an empire, and also controls Sheriff Bob Massey and Mayor Sam Pelley. To avoid drawing suspicion, Devlin orders his men to pretend to be devout Quakers, which is hard for Johnny, who fancies dance hall girl Nell Garrison, and Wilbur, who is thirsty for a beer. After Devlin discovers that Clark is riding his stolen horse and that Nell wears his mother's locket, Devlin has Johnny and Wilbur take jobs at Clark's general store, while he is hired by Elam King, the owner of the competing store. Elam confides to Devlin that men dressed as soldiers have been robbing wagon trains traveling through the area, and that he is concerned about a shipment of goods that he has secretly arranged to be brought in. The travelers and some local people have already paid him for the goods, and Elam will have to reimburse them if the goods are stolen. That evening, Devlin breaks into Clark's store, steals back his stolen items and, donning a mask, holds up Nell in her room and takes the locket. Later, after Rafe Sanders, Clark's store manager, expresses suspicion that Devlin and his men are the soldiers they robbed and are also behind the recent thefts, Clark sets a trap. In the store's office, he removes a floorboard, which hides a thirty-foot well, and covers the hole with a rug. Within the hearing of Johnny and Wilbur, he reports that the lock on the money box is broken and that night, has his thug, Clyde Walters, guard the room. Devlin, suspecting a trap, sends Johnny and Wilbur to the local Quaker meeting, then breaks into the room and fights with Clyde, who accidentally falls to his death in the well. Devlin then takes the money, stolen Army uniforms and the settlers' stolen property. Upon returning to Elam's, he runs into Elam's niece Priscilla, who has already guessed that Devlin is not a Quaker, and confides to her the story about his brother's death. She later covers for Devlin, when the sheriff comes to investigate the robbery and "murder." The next day, members of the wagon train find that their money and stolen items have mysteriously been returned. Nell, who is amused by Johnny, lets him carry her purchases to her room and intimates that she is unhappy with the town and would like to get married. After Sanders reports that the soldiers' uniforms are also missing, Clark wants Devlin and his men arrested, but Sheriff Massey balks at arresting military men without evidence. Clark orders Nell to find out if Devlin and his men are soldiers, which she does by plying Wilbur with liquor. However, when she realizes that Clark intends to hang them, she regrets her involvement and hastens to Elam's store to warn Devlin. With Priscilla's help, Devlin escapes after arranging to meet her later at the Quaker house. Leaving Sanders behind to insure that his orders are carried out, Clark orders Massey to hang Johnny and Wilbur, then takes his thugs to raid the wagon shipment, which they have learned about from Wilbur's drunken confession. They kill the driver and his guard, then take over the wagon. Meanwhile, the sheriff conducts a mockery of a trial in the jail cell and within minutes rules to hang Johnny and Wilbur, as well as Devlin, when he is found. Through the jailhouse window, Nell tries to apologize to Johnny, but he rebuffs her. She then convinces the remorseful sheriff to release the men, but while he is unlocking the cell, Sanders shoots him in the back. Johnny and Wilbur are standing on the gallows with ropes around their necks when Nell appears with the Quaker brethren. After convincing Sanders and his underling that the execution must follow proper procedure, she has Brother Abraham mount the gallows to pray. While reciting Bible verses, Abraham turns to the condemned men and cuts the ropes binding their hands. With the help of the brethren, Devlin, who is hiding within the crowd, overtakes the two thugs and puts them in jail. After nightfall, Clark and his men sneak the wagons into town. While the thugs unload the goods at Clark's store, Devlin, Johnny and Wilbur overtake them and Priscilla drives the wagon away. In the darkened store, Devlin and Clark fight, first with guns, then hand-to-hand. After knocking Devlin unconscious, Clark tries to shoot him, but his faulty ammunition misfires, giving Devlin time to recover. Clark dies, when he falls on the scythe with which he was going to attack Devlin. Later, the wagon trains continue on their journey with their purchased goods. Priscilla and Nell, who plan to marry Devlin and Johnny, respectively, are set to accompany their men back to Devlin's settlement. Surprising everyone, Wilbur announces that he will stay behind and join Brother Abraham's community of Quakers.
Richard L. Bare
Harry Harvey Sr.
Phil Van Zandt
Dale Van Sickel
John Tucker Battle
D. D. Beauchamp
M. A. Merrick
Maurice De Packh
Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend
Shot over nineteen days under the working title The Marshal of Independence, Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend was released by Warner Brothers in April 1957, the same month that Columbia released Boetticher and Scott's masterful The Tall T (1957). Despite the close release dates and the fact that both are westerns, the two films have a world of difference. For one thing, That Tall T is in color while Shoot-Out is in austere black-and-white, very unusual for a Randolph Scott film of this time. For another, The Tall T uses its wry humor as effective and witty counterpoint to a suspenseful, dramatic overall tone, while Shoot-Out's humor is simply what lifts the film slightly above the ordinary. Boetticher later said that he offered to direct Scott's last Warner Brothers film, Westbound (1959), for free simply because he didn't trust the studio not to foul up the Randolph Scott "character" he and Scott had been crafting in their Columbia films. Possibly it was Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend that made Boetticher so concerned.
In Shoot-Out, Scott and his two Union Army buddies (James Garner and Gordon Jones) head to Nebraska after the Civil War. When their uniforms are stolen, they get new clothes from some friendly Quakers, and in fact then pose as Quakers as they try to clean up a corrupt town.
This was one of James Garner's first features. The young actor had been given his big break a couple of years earlier by Shoot-Out director Richard Bare, who discovered Garner in a bar. Bare quickly cast him in several episodes of the TV series Cheyenne (1956). More television and film parts followed, and a year after Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend, Garner was starring on TV's Maverick and was a bona fide star. In later years, he'd star in another hit TV series, The Rockford Files.
In his memoir, Bare recounted that Garner's real name was Jim Bumgarner. When studio chief Jack Warner first saw the rushes from Cheyenne, Bare wrote, he asked who this young actor was. "A new kid by the name of Jim Bumgarner," replied Bare. "Well, take the Bum out and give him a seven-year contract."
While Garner was obviously appreciative of Bare, he later wrote in his own memoir that Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend "couldn't decide if it was a comedy or a drama... Even the title is off; there's gunplay, but not one decent shoot-out in the whole picture." Garner considered his next picture, Sayonara (1957), "my first role of any consequence, and my first serious film."
As for Randolph Scott, Bare claimed that the 59-year-old actor made himself look younger by means of a bizarre contraption: "Each morning his makeup man would shut the door to his dressing room and affix a gummed tab to his cheek just under the hairline that connected to a string that went over his head and down to a gummed tab on the other cheek. It was sort of an instant face-lift. Lots of stars since have used the device."
Bare also wrote that he was still looking for a leading lady when an interview was arranged between himself and Angie Dickinson. "As I entered the room," Bare remembered, "the brown-eyed beauty was seated on the couch, wearing an extremely low-cut dress and looking very fetching indeed. Bill said to Angie, 'Thought you'd like to meet the director.' 'Meet him?' Angie said, giving me the once-over. 'I'd rather rape him.'
"As I've said, I had a touch of Cary Grant in me in those days, and my leading ladies sometimes were surprised that I looked more like an actor than a director. But never had I heard a reaction like Angie's... Needless to say, I recommended that Angie play in Shoot-Out, but I never got my promised rape or anything close to it."
Bare had some serious comic chops in his repertoire, having created the numerous Joe McDoakes comedy shorts of the 1940s and '50s, an experience that no doubt helped him with the lighter moments of Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend.
According to the film's production notes, this was the fifteenth picture on which Randolph Scott rode his prized stallion, Stardust.
Producer: Richard Whorf
Director: Richard L. Bare
Screenplay: John Tucker Battle, D.D. Beauchamp (written by)
Cinematography: Carl Guthrie
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer
Music: Roy Webb
Film Editing: Clarence Kolster
Cast: Randolph Scott (Capt. Buck Devlin), James Craig (Ep Clark), Angie Dickinson (Priscilla King), Dani Crayne (Nell Garrison), James Garner (Sgt. John Maitland), Gordon Jones (Pvt. Wilbur 'Will' Clegg), Trevor Bardette (Sheriff Bob Massey), Don Beddoe (Mayor Sam Pelley), Myron Healey (Rafe Sanders), John Alderson (Clyde Walters).
by Jeremy Arnold
Richard L. Bare, Confessions of a Hollywood Director
James Garner and Jon Winokur, The Garner Files
Robert Nott, The Films of Randolph Scott
Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend
The working title of the film was The Marshal of Independence. According to a September 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was one of the first to be shot in a new Western set on Warner's six-acre backlot, which was built to supplement the studio's Calabasas ranch. A November 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that actor James Garner sprained his right ankle during shooting, necessitating the Indian attack sequence of the script be written to accommodate his limp.
Released in United States Spring May 1957
Released in United States Spring May 1957