krpalmer: (mst3k)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Moving along with building up the number of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes I've commented on, I've headed on to the fifth season and the penultimate Joel episode, "Gunslinger." It gets introduced by Dr. Forrester as "your first western," but just perhaps may hold some interest beyond that...

"Gunslinger" stars Beverly Garland, already one of the handful of actors to be (more or less) well-respected by the Mystery Science Theater creators and fans for "It Conquered the World" and "Swamp Diamonds." She plays Rose Hood, who starts off as the wife of an Old West sheriff, but when her husband is gunned down before the stylized and perhaps even stylish opening credits start rolling, she grabs a rifle and shoots one of the gunmen, then guns down the other one when he's foolish enough to show up at the funeral. At that point, Rose takes up her husband's badge with only some brief objections from other people, changes into pants, and starts shooting all the other evil-doers in town ("Well, I'm pretty sure he was a bad guy.") while waiting for the actual replacement sheriff to arrive.

Rose's major opposition seems to be Erica Page, the local saloon owner (her place complete with dancing girls), and as some sort of complicated plot unfolds Cane Miro drifts into town to split his romantic attentions between Rose and Erica and also threaten the mayor, who he blames for (somehow) losing the whole Civil War for the Confederacy. (To my perhaps inexperienced ears, neither of the two men seem to have very "Southern" accents...) After much galloping around, with Rose out of town Erica and Cane manage to gun down the deputy, the mayor's wife ("Whoa! Guess he's not the hero any more."), and the mayor. Cane then shoots Erica to save Rose, and Rose shoots Cane, just as the actual replacement sheriff shows up. ("Oh, now I'm going to have to make new friends." "Now she's the sheriff of herself.")

Even in this cheap, somewhat discontinuous Roger Corman production ("So Corman did Swamp Diamonds on Monday and this one on Wednesday."), the idea of a matter-of-fact female sheriff in a 1950s movie sort of catches my attention. Save for one moment when she's assaulted by the dancing girls ("She didn't even cry when her husband died."), Beverly Garland's character can more than take care of herself. I suppose the mass killings of the conclusion might yet be viewed askance by those parsing competence, though. The "riffing" is pretty good, although the way parts of the movie sort of lose me may distract me a little from it; I happened to notice how a running gag is built around a door opening in an odd way ("Aah, doors don't open like that--he's in the hall!") without quite being engaged by it. As for the "host segments," though, I've been interested in the past by suggestions that Joel's impending departure from the show is hinted at by "tension" in them, but have also taken notice of comments that that may not be the case after all. With that balanced out, discussions about funerals are just sort of entertaining. So far as "looking ahead" goes, too, the sound effect when Dr. Forrester attempts to use the "Scanner Planner" ("Do you want to explode peoples's heads? Sure, we all do.") will later become the "Brain Guy" sound.

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