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A Mixed but interesting bag
zboston327 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Being shot in black and white does not hurt this film. Actually it makes it more striking, not the usual post card color we're used to seeing in films shot in these familiar locations. It has a number of actors who while familiar also do rather good work. Even the quintessential New Yorker Harold J. Stone comes across as a rather threatening outlaw, especially when his face is half in shadow and Strother Martin does quite a nice bit as a town drunk. Audie and his frequent co-star, Charles Drake, are a couple of roving cow hands who fall in with bad company and pay a harsh price for it.

In some senses this seems like a throw back to some of the hard edged Westerns of the 1940's. Audie's character at times seems like the one honorable fellow in the story. All the other characters have weaknesses and flaws, but even Audie at a couple points commits less than honorable acts - shooting a horse in one scene and in another I think he shoots a bad guy in the back.

Overall this is interesting and even a little thought provoking. Glad I found it.
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They should have invested in a jail
bkoganbing13 November 2015
Showdown finds Audie Murphy and Charles Drake who did a few films with Murphy as a pair of cowboy drifters coming to the town of Adonde to sell of the horse herd they've captured and for a little R&R. Drake gets in a poker game, gets drunk and stupid, and both wind up chained to a town may pole like post in the middle of the town main street. Also chained there is the town drunk Strother Martin and Harold J. Stone and his outlaw gang. The town has no jail and the pole is like the stocks in the village square in the colonial times.

Adonde wishes that they did invest in a jail after Stone breaks out taking Murphy and Drake with him and some money that the light fingered Drake lifted from the Express office. $12,000.00 in negotiable bonds. But he hides them and then it becomes a chess game between Murphy and Drake and Stone.

I won't go on with the plot, but it soon becomes apparent that the man Murphy's been riding with has a lot less character than he gave him credit for. In fact Drake's character is not unlike the one he played in the classic James Stewart western Winchester 73. Furthermore the girl he's been seeing Kathleen Crowley is not unlike Shelley Winters from that same film.

In fact this could have been a classic had Universal invested a little more money in script and direction. But at that time Audie Murphy's films were normally at the bottom of double bills in that last decade of them and Murphy was just serving out his contract.

Still the film has some grit to it with Murphy playing the only one in the film with any real character.
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Western Noir
MikeF-64 September 2019
Audie Murphy was reportedly furious when he learned that "Showdown" would be in black and white for budget reasons. But the b&w seems appropriate for this western because Murphy's character is the perfect film noir hero. He usually played a gunfighter with a troubled past, a lawman, or a combination of the two but here he is Chris Foster, an ordinary cow puncher who just wants to collect his pay and celebrate with his pal Bert Pickett (Charles Drake). Because of Bert's drunken misbehavior, he and Chris have to go to "jail" which in the little New Mexico town means a post in the middle of the street with chains bolted to it and an iron collar for the prisoners. It is a very visually arresting (if you will pardon the expression) image. Also chained to the post is the notorious outlaw Lavalle (Harold J. Stone) and his gang which includes Foray (L.Q. Jones) and Caslon (Skip Homeier). When Lavalle and friends escape, Chris and Bert have to go with him putting them on the run from the law. From there, Chris tries to keep himself and his friend alive - not to mention clear their names - as they attempt to buy their way out with some bonds stolen from an express office. There is even, if not a femme fatale, a cynical dame who could help the two men out of their trouble but is unable to trust what Chris tells her. Now, if that's not a noir plot, I don't know what is. Noir, noir on the range. Not one of Audie's best, neither one of his worst (so far I haven't found a "worst"). But as always, Audie Murphy is a charismatic lead actor. The cinematographer is Ellis W. Carter. Location shooting was done at Lone Pine, California which is a good match for the film's setting in New Mexico, especially in the desert views.
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The Iron Neck Collar hold by chains !!!
elo-equipamentos6 June 2019
Since my teenage years Audie Murphy thrilled me with those B westerns, this one just come out, totally restored, the plot is a bit unusual and creative, two friends Audie Murphy and Charles Drake just arrived in the town, a drunk Drake lost his money on gambling, and sent to stay all night long hold by chains and iron neck collar, together with a dangerous Lavalle's gang, at sunrise they run away, invaded the bank and Drake stolen 12.000 dollars in bonds, Lavelle make a deal with Drake, leave him to change the bonds by money and bring back to save Murphy's life, nothing happened as planned, so Murphy offer himself to do it, even being a low budge this picture is very interesting, Charles Drake had a decent acting, Lavelle a rough guy played by Harold J Stone is fabulous as gang's leader, the old girlfriend of Drake called Estelle (Kathleen Crowley) was introduce in the middle of the picture and seems a girl without heart, great picture for a B movie standards, a bit short indeed, in the final scene stays a doubt, Murphy gives back the money??


First watch: 2019 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.5
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I would have let you die!
hitchcockthelegend14 September 2019
Showdown is directed by R.G. Springsteen and written by Bronson Howitzer. It stars Audie Murphy, Kathleen Crowley, Charles Drake, Harold J. Stone, Skip Homeier, L. Q. Jones and Strother Martin. Music is by Hans J. Salter and cinematography by Ellis W. Carter.

Plot has Murphy as Chris Foster who has to get 12,000 dollars in stolen bonds from the ex-girlfriend of his partner, Bert Pickett (Drake), or the gang holding him hostage will kill him.

Filmed in black and white, something which didn't sit well with Murphy, this turns out to be a well photographed (the sumptuous back drop of the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine) low budget Oater of interesting ideas. The outdoor prison used here - criminals chained by neck collars to a pole in the center of town - is refreshingly original and a superb plot device that thrusts good guys (Chris and Bert) and bad guys together as a unit, for a while at least that is...

Trouble is, is that this is only a small section of the story which occurs at the pic's beginning. We get some exciting action and character laying foundations for the inevitable break out, and then it moves away from the jail scenario. The premise is so good one kind of hankers for much longer of this story angle, maybe even for the story to have been different and made this the bulk of the movie as a character piece - with the break out and subsequent held to ransom aspect in the last third. But I digress whilst forgetting this is a 1960s low budget job.

Narrative contains themes of addiction, tortured love and blind loyalty, which is credit to the writing of the wonderfully named Bronson Howitzer (really Ric Hardman!). However, the romantic thread bogs things down since it comes off as nonsense, with Crowley - as lovely as she looks - utterly unbelievable in the Western setting. Worse still is the head villain played by Stone, who not only makes preposterous decisions, he's also just not very villainous into the bargain. Still, Murphy is on good enough form and he's backed up by some notable genre performers.

A mixture of the usual good and bad for a Murphy 1960s Oater, but enough here to make it a comfortable recommendation to fans of star and genre. 6.5/10
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Grim western but surprisingly entertaining
a.lampert1 September 2014
I loved this movie. Having watched so many old westerns recently that lacked much realism, I found this to be quite a hard edged and grim atmospheric piece that I really enjoyed. Audie Murphy with his baby face can be very convincing and was perhaps a better actor than I previously remembered from when I was young, and I'm constantly having to remind myself that he was the most decorated American soldier of World War II. Kathleen Crowley,who I had forgotten about, was quite sexy in a mature way, and I grew to like her as her part went on. There's a great cast of old character actors who never fail to please in old westerns, Harold J. Stone, Skip Homier, L. Q. Jones, Strother Martin and Charles Drake. There's not a lot to not like I thought, although I kept thinking this would have been so much better in colour and wide screen which let it down just a little bit. I thought it was quite tense throughout, mainly brought about by the fact that Murphy is chased (and I love chase pictures) throughout the film by various characters and for the most part he has to outsmart his opponents and overcome them in spite of the fact that he rarely has the chance of acquiring a weapon. Very well made on what appears to be a low budget.
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Below-average Audie Murphy western--in black-and-white
BrianDanaCamp17 March 2012
SHOWDOWN (1963) has extensive location shooting around Lone Pine, California at the foot of the Sierras. Because it was shot in black-and-white, however, ostensibly to save money, the picturesque locations are not seen to their best advantage the way they are in Murphy's color westerns from that era (e.g. HELL BENT FOR LEATHER and SEVEN WAYS FROM SUNDOWN, both 1960). Color cinematography would have given us something interesting to look at during the labored proceedings. It's a low-budget affair with a contrived script provided by "Bronson Howitzer," a curious pseudonym for Ric Hardman, a writer of TV westerns. The plot is one of those routine potboilers about a group of outlaws holding the hero and various people hostage in hopes of a big payoff. At too many points in the script, people engage in uncharacteristic behavior in order to keep the basic situation intact. Two innocent cowboys, Chris (Audie Murphy) and Bert (Charles Drake), are detained after a drunken saloon fight and chained to an outdoor post alongside desperate outlaws in a town that doesn't have a jail. When the outlaws break free, the two friends inexplicably flee instead of staying and trying to explain their situation. Bert (Charles Drake) even steals some banknotes, which he then uses to bargain for his and Chris's life after the outlaws grab them. Each subsequent chain of events arises from the outlaw boss (Harold J. Stone) letting one friend or the other go off on his own on a mission involving the money, even though no self-respecting gang leader would place such trust in his hostages or let them go off on their own so easily. These outlaws are neither very tough nor very smart.

Things get more complicated when Bert's purported girl, a saloon singer named Estelle, enters the picture. She has a couple of dramatic scenes, including an extended monologue, that must have made the actress (Kathleen Crowley) quite happy but tend to slow the movie down. Only when Chris is on his own against the remaining gang members in rugged terrain does the picture get interesting. Unfortunately, there are not enough of these scenes to save the movie. Murphy's very good in a patented role as a decent ordinary guy caught up in the machinations of lawbreakers, but he would have been better in color and with a more thought-out script. There's a sense here that the production was just a bit on the hurried side.

Strother Martin plays a town drunk and L.Q. Jones plays a silent member of the gang. Both are among the town's prisoners chained to the same post early in the film. They're seen in shots together but don't interact. These two actors would make a memorable team six years later as the squabbling "gutter trash" bounty hunters Coffer and T.C. in Sam Peckinpah's THE WILD BUNCH.

According to "No Name on the Bullet: A Biography of Audie Murphy," by Don Graham, Murphy was quite upset when he learned that SHOWDOWN was being filmed in black-and-white and almost stopped working. "I'm not gonna act," is how he put it. The producer eventually talked him into finishing the movie, but Murphy vowed, "This is the last picture I'm gonna do in black and white." It was.

(Regarding the filming of Lone Pine locations cited in the first paragraph, I should stress that those landscapes can look absolutely breathtaking in black-and-white when captured by a master cinematographer. Just look at classic movies like LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER (1935), CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1936) and HIGH SIERRA (1941), to name three. But we're simply not going to see images like that in the kind of rush job we get in SHOWDOWN.)
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Extremely Underrated
januszlvii8 June 2020
Warning: Spoilers
The really like this movie, it reminds me of Six Black Horses ( my favorite Murphy movie): Now to be fair, I like most Audie Murphy westerns, but this was something different. thanks to Kathleen Crowley ( Estelle). She was rotten in the very beginning, taking money that Chris (Murphy) needed to save his friend, but why did she? Greed? No, being rotten? NO. It was getting back her younger sister who she had to give up, and she was so beaten down and used she had no trust for anyone. What you see from her is character growth, that she can finally start to trust again ( something Chris points out to her). Character growth always improves a movie. Do Chris and Estelle end up together? Of course, but it is well worth watching, 8/10 stars.
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Western Noir Gem
jdcowtown17 October 2020
"Neither one of you can make it alone.... maybe together you might make one good man... pull you apart's like an oyster..... You're a couple of shells sharing one set of guts"

Things turn bad for a couple of drifting cowboys when they go into town to cash their pay.....real,real bad.

Excellent hard boiled Noir tale of the drifting cowboy hard luck trail with a very sinister edge. Some great massive landscapes position the claustrophobic anxiety and ultimate insignificance and futility of this nasty human story.

Audie gives one of his strongest performances and delivers some excellent patois dialogue full of cowboy logic and figuring. Chas Drake is great as the weak willed problem gambling pard.

Harold J stone is frightening and relentless as gang boss LaSalle and Skip Homier, is very disturbing as one of the stupid sadist henchman.

Strother Martin gives an excellent performance as pathetic town drunk Charlie Reeder and the scenes with his hard talking children are disturbingly frank.

Kathleen Crowley proves to be an excellent casting choice as pathetic ruined Estelle.

This is my favorite Audie Murphy western and I think one of his best films.
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LeonLouisRicci27 August 2021
Murph Balked at the Non-Color Decision and Loudly Voiced it and Threatened to Walk but was Talked Out of it by His Agent.

This is one of the More Glum of Audie Murphy Westerns.

He was Aging and it Shows His 1963 Face and Frame Starting to Sprawl, just a Little.

But the War-Hero, Now a Veteran Screen Presence, still Manages to Impose and Intimidate Bad-Guys, and Lure Beautiful Women.

With His Unwavering Moral Compass and Sweet Looks.

Here, He Outwits a Snarling Psycho, Harold J. Stone, and His Pack of Dogs.

Punches His way out of Outnumbered Fisticuffs, and Takes to the Iron to Finish Off the Outlaws.

He is Totally Loyal to Charles Drake, a real Snake, as He Sides with His "Good Friend" until the End.

Kathleen Crowley's Beautiful Face is Caked with Make-Up and Mascara, False Eye-Lashes, and an Early Sixties Hair-Do. What were They Thinking?

The Movie has a Rich Supporting Cast.

The Film Features some Off-Beat Inclusions, like the "Iron May-Pole", and some Amped Violence that was Creeping its Way into Movies in the New Decade.

Overall, it is Underrated and Another Audie Murphy Western that is Put-Down and Ignored by Critics. But it's a Good One.

Ask those that Count, the Legions of Murph's Fans that are still Around Today.
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Actual locations help!
JohnHowardReid25 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
SYNOPSIS: Mistakenly shackled to a chain gang in the border town of Adonde, Chris and Bert are forced to steal securities and escape with a bandit named Lavalle who holds Chris hostage whilst Bert converts the securities into cash.

COMMENT: Could be improved by trimming. 79 minutes is too long for a "B" anyway and Showdown will cut down to around 64 minutes with ease. Getting rid of a lot of that dull dialogue - all directed in an extremely dull fashion, mainly in close-ups - not only improves the pace but focuses attention on the movie's best features: namely, its smartly handled action spots (all set against striking natural terrain), its tightly edited shoot-outs and whip-cracking special effects. The basic plot is overly familiar, but it's laced with enough action to please the fans. All of it freshly staged too, - no stock material. Acting just gets by. No performances stand out, and alas, Miss Crowley (in a key role) is unable to make her abrupt change of character convincing. Characterizations tend to be one-dimensional anyway, though the script does try to fill in a bit of background for Drake and Crowley. But the subsidiary people are very sketchily treated indeed. Production values benefit from a good deal of actual location lensing. Technical credits are slick, if undistinguished. However, unlike Universal's previous Audie Murphy releases, Showdown was photographed in black-and-white. It's possible - as Variety's critic observed - that "color could have made a stronger impact."
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Terse Audie Murphy western
coltras356 August 2020
I always liked this western, it'd a great atmosphere and a solid plot. Pity it's underrated. Audie stars as a cowpoke, who along with Charles Drake, rides into a one horse town to collect their money before ending up imprisoned with outlaws, and when a breakout occurs they find themselves up to their neck in trouble. There's a strange kind of jail - a pole with chain shackling the prisoners. It adds a grim tone to the story, as does the black and white. I used to think that it should've been in colour, but I now think that monogram lends a certain noir-like element to it. There's also a grimness to it as well as some focus on the characters. Kathleen Crowley is really good as is Charles Drake and the villain who has a real menace. The locations are really good, the chase scenes are really nifty, particular liked the bit when Audie lassoes a sagebrush as he's riding the horse, causing dust to disorientate the baddie that's following him. Audie is really good here, reacts well to Kathleen Crowley's bitter tone, and shows some great athleticism and horsemanship.
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masonfisk23 January 2020
A rare Audie Murphy Western shot in black & white (I can only recall 2 other of his films shot the same way being The Quiet American & The Red Badge of Courage) from 1963 directed by R.G. Springsteen (he did a ton of Westerns for the big screen & TV). Murphy, who is a bronco buster, & his friend, a vet, are cashing out from a recent job in town but after a drunken fight (the friend likes booze a bit much), the sheriff locks them up both in the town square, chained to a pole along w/a bunch of other prisoners who have varying degrees of offenses under their collective belts. When the leader breaks the others free (in a scene which should be suspenseful but comes off as comedic like the chained up escapees from Woody Allen's Take the Money & Run), they stock up on guns & ammo & rob the local bank. Murphy & pal peel away from the pack but later run into the escaping gang where the vet barters for their lives w/a stack of government bonds he pilfered which he offers to cash for them in exchange for his & Murphy's lives. He goes into town, trailed by 2 of the leader's crew, & is brought back empty handed. It turns out the vet has an old honey on standby which he promised the funds to so Murphy is enlisted to get the funds back or make some moves which will save the day for all concerned. It's too bad the great location photography & tight running time is wasted on a story which falls apart as it chugs along but as was the case w/many of Murphy's Westerns; a lot of them were forgettable, w/only a handful worth remembering. Co-starring future Peckinpah vets, L.Q. Jones & Strother Martin w/Harold J. Stone wasted as the main heavy.
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Murphy Is Up To His Neck In Trouble in "Showdown"
zardoz-1319 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Prolific western director R.G. Springsteen helmed as many as 40 sagebrushers during his long 50 year career in Hollywood. He made one other western with Audie Murphy entitled "Bullet for a Badman" with Darren McGavin. Essentially, "Showdown" is nothing to shout about as far as westerns go. This Universal International Release was filmed in black & white rather than color to conserve on costs. Clearly, producer Gordon Kay must have been obsessed with the bottom line to shoot a sagebrusher in color in 1963. Westerns should always be lensed in color, unlike contemporary crime dramas in urban settings. The Lone Pine, Alabama Hills setting isn't as in black & white. As an 80-minute oater, "Showdown" qualifies as entertaining enough despite its offbeat hostage narrative. Ric Hardman spent most of his career writing for television westerns, such as "Cheyenne," "Sugarfoot," "Lawman," "Laredo," "Rawhide," and Murphy's own "Whispering Smith." The dialogue keeps the plot moving, but it isn't especially memorable. The cast is better than average, with Harold J. Stone, Skip Homeier, L.Q. Jones, Strother Martin, and Dabs Greer. Audie Murphy plays his usual, straight-arrow, good guy hero, while Stone makes an abrasive adversary.

Charles Drake and Murphy co-star as a couple of drifters who share nothing but hard luck. They get themselves tangled up with a murderous outlaw, Lavalle (Harold J. Stone of "These Thousand Hills"), scheduled to hang, when they ride into the town where he is being held captive. Their predicament is rather unsavory. Bert Pickett (Charles Drake of "No Name on a Bullet") and Chris Foster (Audie Murphy of "The Unforgiven") get into a saloon brawl after Bert gets liquored up and loses at cards. The local authorities arrest them for disturbing the peace. The most interesting thing about this conventional oater is the jail where our heroes end up spending the night. You see, the town marshal has driven a beam into the ground on main street. This set-up resembles a grim maypole of sorts with chains and neck collars. Each inmate wears a metal collar around the throat, and they remain outside when a deputy maintains surveillance. Although I've seen all the major westerns as well as lots of B-movies, I've never seen prisoners shackled to a pole in the middle of main street. This is the kind of thing you'd be more apt to see in a colonial adventure instead of a dusty western. Anyway, Lavalle plans to escape before dawn and strong arms our heroes into joining in the digging to uproot the beam.

Eventually, Lavalle and his henchmen are able to uproot the beam and wield it as a battering ram to smash in the door of an office where guns are kept. They shoot it out with the local authorities and manage to escape. Things get messy when the treacherous Lavalle agrees to turn loose Pickett if he promises to bring back the $12-thousand that he wired to a dance-hall girl, Estelle (Kathleen Crowley of "The Quiet Gun"), but Bert tries to escape to save his own neck. After his henchmen round up Pickett, Lavalle sends Chris Foster (Audie Murphy) to get the loot. At the same time, Lavalle has two gunslingers Caslon (Skip Homeier of "The Gunfighter") and Foray (L.Q. Jones of "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid") accompany him on his quest. Not surprisingly, Estelle refuses to help Bert out by giving the money to Chris. Along the way, Chris frustrates the two gunmen who followed him. As it turns out, Bert has been telling tales as Estelle reveals. By the time that he gets back to Lavalle's camp, matters take a turn for the worst. Caslon shoots Bert in the back, but Chris evens up the score later.

Nothing memorable, the generically entitled "Showdown" is worth a glance. Meantime, it would have looked better in color.
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