Gunman’s Walk (1958): Phil Karlson’s Technicolor Western, Starring Van Heflin and Tab Hunter

Phil Karlson directed Gunman’s Walk, a family-driven Western, shot on CinemaScope and in Technicolor, starring Van Heflin, James Darren, and Tab Hunter in an atypical role.

Hunter, usually typecast as “All-American hunk,” was borrowed by Columbia from home studio Warner to make this picture, adapted by Frank Nugent from Ric Hardman’s original script.

Davy Hackett (James Darren) and his hot-tempered, arrogant older brother Ed (Tab Hunter) are about to assist their rancher father Lee (Van Heflin) on a cattle drive to Wyoming.

The brothers meet Cecily “Clee” Chouard (Kathryn Grant), a half-French, half-Sioux woman, and when Ed makes unwanted advances toward her, Davy intervenes.

Clee’s brother Paul (Bert Convy) joins the cattle drive. Ed, obsessed with capturing a white mare, resents Paul’s interference and pushes him off a cliff to his death.

It is witnessed by two Indians, but when the case comes to court, Ed is released because Lee has bribed a man named Sieverts (Ray Teal) to lie that the death was an accident. Lee learns that Davy is in love with Clee and disowns him.
Sieverts is given 10 horses in exchange, but when he chooses the white mare, Ed shoots him.

Jailed again, Ed shoots a deputy and escapes. Lee is forced to hunt down and kills his own son before leading Davy and Clee back to the ranch.

Van Heflin as Lee Hackett
Tab Hunter as Ed Hackett
Kathryn Grant as Clee Chouard
James Darren as Davy Hackett
Mickey Shaughnessy as Deputy Sheriff Will Motely
Robert F. Simon as Sheriff Harry Brill
Edward Platt as Purcell Avery
Ray Teal as Jensen Sieverts
Paul Birch as Bob Selkirk, Lee’s caretaker
Will Wright as Judge