And while more or less all mediocre connoisseurs of the Wild West know about gunslingers like Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok or Wyatt Earp, this classic western brings us a somewhat romanticized story of another typical American anti-hero. Johnny Ringo was another Wild West outlaw and gunslinger who found himself on the opposing side of the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday in the Tombstone showdown. It is interesting that he ended up with someone putting a bullet in his forehead, but his death was characterized as a suicide, although it is assumed that this was not the case, but that the famous Sheriff Earp took revenge for the murder of his brother Morgan.
Ringo in the film by Henryk King, one of the most commercially successful American filmmakers of the twenties and thirties of the last century, is not called Johnny, but Jimmy, and the fact is that the character was just inspired by the notorious outlaw. Jimmy Ringo (Gregory Peck) is a famous gunslinger who is accompanied by the voice of the fastest trigger in the entire west. And although it may not make much sense from today’s perspective, every now and then some up-and-coming kids appear who want to show themselves in front of such a person and make a name for themselves by killing him. Of course, this is extremely dangerous because if it turns out that Jimmy Ringo really is still the fastest gunslinger in the West, there is no going back.
Such a fate will befall the young man who intercepts Ringo in the saloon and after it turns out that Ringo is still the fastest, the three brothers of the up-and-coming and recently deceased young man will embark on a revenge campaign after him. Ringo, on the other hand, headed to the nearby town of Cayenne, where his former love Peggy, with whom he has an eight-year-old son, has settled down, and he has never seen the boy before. In Cayenne, the sheriff is his old friend Mark Street who, despite their friendship, will ask Ringo to leave the town. Trouble is the last thing I want, claims Ringo, who looks as if he has changed, become serious, matured and is no longer the wild gunslinger that everyone remembers him to be, but the past and what he once was, are constantly following him.
Just saying his name causes awe and mortal fear among many, and wherever he appears, there are young roosters who would like to make a name for themselves thanks to him. The Cayenne is no exception, in which a real alarm will soon break out and the whole town will flock to the saloon when they hear that a dangerous gunman is there, and there are also the brothers whom Ringo intercepted right at the beginning, but they are also getting closer to the town. “The Gunfighter” was a fine, classic western that does a great job of capturing the spirit of the wild west and solidly portrays the fascination with gunslingers of the time.
It is interesting that the first choice for the role of Ringo was John Wayne, but he refused the offer, so King insisted on Peck, who acted in a total of six of his films. Although the early 1950s was a time when the classic western may have been at its peak, “The Gunfighter” turned out to be a commercial failure, although it earned William Bowers and Andre De Toth a nomination for best screenplay. The head of the studio at 20th Century Fox, Spyros Skouras, blamed Peck for that failure, who grew a mustache for the needs of the film, but from today’s perspective, this film is very interesting as a somewhat tragic story about a man who can forget about a normal life. About the gunslinger who realized too late what to expect and that someone faster than him will show up sometime.