Gunman's Walk | Chicago Reader

Gunman's Walk

Phil Karlson (The Phenix City Story, Kansas City Confidential) directed this thematically complex Western, about a racist, belligerent cowboy (Tab Hunter) and his tumultuous relationship with his enabling father (Van Heflin). A familial tragedy with Shakespearean ambitions, the film ranks among the best westerns of the late 1950s, a transformative era in which directors began to tamper with the genre's established symbols and archetypes—where Native Americans had been represented as savage, untrustworthy others, for instance, they came to function as stand-ins for the burgeoning civil rights movement. Retroactively, Gunman's Walk also artfully flips the switch on Native American/Anglo relations, depicting racial hatred as a byproduct of shortsighted manifest destiny.

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