Catching the Last Train From Gun Hill
Since I’m a classic film fan you might think that eventually I’ll run out of movies to watch. After all, there’s only a finite amount out there. But after decades of watching movies there’s plenty I still haven’t seen and many that I haven’t even heard of. Take Last Train from Gun Hill. Although it stars such heavyweights as Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn it never previously crossed my radar. Recently, it made its Blu-ray debut and I was lucky enough to receive a copy. Eager to discover something new I gave it a watch.
Last Train From Gun Hill, starring the aforementioned Douglas and Quinn, was released in 1959 in VistaVision (a widescreen format developed by Paramount). Directed by John Sturges it’s a tense morality tale of murder, justice and the ties that bind.
Kirk Douglas is small town marshal Matt Morgan whose wife was brutally murdered by the son of his oldest friend the cattle baron Craig Beldon (played by Anthony Quinn). To ensure that justice is served he travels to Gun Hill to apprehend the perpetrator. The only problem is that no matter what crimes his son has committed Beldon’s hellbent on keeping him out of jail. Morgan has until 9pm, when the last train leaves Gun Hill, to make an arrest but runs into trouble at every turn in a town completely under Beldon’s control.
While watching the film I was immediately reminded of Bad Day at Black Rock, coincidentally also directed by John Sturges, and while both films have a similar premise (a lone man seeks justice in a hostile environment) Last Train From Gun Hill holds its own as a moody, latter day Western that’s not afraid to shy away from the brutality of murder and its consequences on both the victim’s and perpetrator’s families. Featuring strong performances by both Douglas and Quinn (not to mention superb supporting turns from Carolyn Jones and Earl Holliman), a tight, suspenseful plot that never drags and vibrant Technicolor imagery of the old west it’s a true classic.
Speaking of that Techicolor imagery…the Last Train From Gun Hill Blu-ray has been “remastered from a 6K film transfer of the original VistaVision negative” resulting in an incredibly vibrant picture. The colors jump out of the screen and the imagery is as crisp and clean as on the day it was first released. It’s an incredibly beautiful Paramount remaster that would be a welcome addition to any film library.
Honestly, Paramount has lately been killing it with Blu-ray releases. In addition to Last Train From Gun Hill I also caught the 4K Ultra HD release of My Fair Lady. Never one of my favorite films I was shocked at how much it was improved by its recent presentation. Again, the colors jumped from the screen and the images were sharp and precise. It was like watching an entirely new film and gave me a whole new appreciation for it.
Whether it’s Last Train From Gun Hill or My Fair Lady you can’t go wrong with a Paramount Blu-ray. I can’t wait to see what they release next.