The Young Guns (1956)
“They Make Today’s Teen-Age Terrors Look Tame!”
Director: Albert Band
Cast: Russ Tamblyn, Gloria Talbott, Perry Lopez
Synopsis: A Wyoming cowboy tries to lead a clean, law-abiding life in spite of the notoriety of his dead gunman father.
More than 30 years before the Brat Pack rode into view, first time director Albert Band was stealing their thunder with The Young Guns, a strange fusion of juvenile delinquent exploitation and Western. A written prologue even links the problem between the two eras, although the film doesn’t really explore the problem of misbehaving youths in any kind of depth. In fact, it’s quite easy to imagine a standard script being doctored in order to include the juvenile angle.
Russ Tamblyn plays Tully Rice, son of a notorious bandit, who finds himself paying for the sins of his father at the hands of the vindictive deputy sheriff (Myron Healey) of the town of Chalmer. Despite the efforts of the well-meaning and progressive thinking sheriff Peyton (Walter Coy), Tully feels compelled to leave town and take up with the criminal community camped out in shacks near to the town. Initially met with distrust by the other youths there, Tully eventually becomes their leader, but finds his status under threat when the influence of his new girl Nora (Gloria Talbott) steers him away from committing a robbery in Chalmer.
Let’s face it, with those soft, cherubic features of his, Russ Tamblyn – chiefly remembered (by this reviewer, at least) as Tom Thumb – is always going to have a hard time convincing us he has a dark side and that he possesses the necessary toughness to beat down a bunch of pre-school toddlers let alone a gang of juvenile delinquents. The members of his gang quickly grow restless under his leadership due to the fact that he doesn’t actually lead them anywhere, and most viewers will probably feel the same way even though the film’s running time is relatively short. Those who like obscure or little-seen movies might feel compelled to watch The Young Guns, but others would be advised to steer clear.
(Reviewed 25th May 2012)