Movies like No Name on the Bullet uncover the depth of talent inHollywood. The roles are filled almost exclusively by familiar faceswith unfamiliar names - R. G. Armstrong, Willis Bouchey, Edgar Stehli -with the result that one can concentrate on the story characters ratherthan being distracted by "star presence". <br><br>Without a top-heavy cast, the story itself also gains focus, and Ithink the story of No Name on the Bullet is fascinating. What happenswhen a notorious contract killer rides into town and...does absolutelynothing? <br><br>The one star of the movie, Audie Murphy, plays the gunman. I loveMurphy, one of Hollywood's misspent talents. Does this also apply tothe the character actors I refer to above? Not really.<br><br>Character players, though quite talented, rarely attain stardom -Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor and Claude Rains are notableexceptions - not through neglect or misuse but by some limitation ofrange or persona. Audie Murphy's talent was misspent because, thoughobvious, it was never developed, either by studios, who, myopically,only wanted to exploit his war hero status as a box office draw, ordirectors who, in Murphy's career, were usually "line directors," goodfor getting a movie in the can on time and on budget rather than forgetting great performances out their players.<br><br>Which brings me to director Jack Arnold, who does a journeyman's job,but who I believe is the cause for what another reviewer wrongheadedlycalls Murphy's shortcomings. Stilted lines and studied movement are theresults of "hands-off" direction. This is OK for the character parts,where skilled players in simple roles don't need much direction, butnot for lead roles. Watching Murphy I'm reminded of another sadlyunderdeveloped star, Alan Ladd, whose talents always shone under agreat director, but who didn't get those directors consistently enough,in my opinion, to fulfill his promise. Coincidentally, both Murphy andLadd died prematurely. Perhaps not coincidentally, both had drinkingproblems. I wonder if they might have been experiencing similarfrustrations. <br><br>Since No Name on the Bullet contains complex secondary parts, it'sfortunate, that the players cast for these parts are outstanding, sothe characters are interesting. Unfortunately, the budget constraintsforce the runtime of the film to be far too short. The result is anumber of unresolved character studies. I want to know more about theblacksmith, the ex-flame and the judge - and more about the gunfighter.I'd also like to see more denouement. The main plot ends too abruptly,as if the producers were saying, "That's all we can afford to give you,Folks." That said, I wouldn't call the ending dumb, again as thewrongheaded reviewer cited above asserts, just shortchanged.<br><br>Returning to my opening thesis, that watching a cast of talentedcharacter players carry a movie is a special treat, I highly recommendthis little gem of a Western.
No Name on the Bullet
No Name on the Bullet
Cool, cultured John Gant rides into Lordsburg. Gant is a professional killer, and although no one knows who he is there to kill, they are all worried. Everyone has enemies, and maybe Gant is in town for them. While they wait for him to make his move, paranoia starts taking over...
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