Cast & Crew
When gunfighter Dan Ritchy rides into the quiet town of Mesa, he finds a lone Mexican-American man waiting for him. The man, David Robles, reminds Ritchy that they met five years earlier when Ritchy and three cohorts shot up David's town of Del Rio. David says he now has learned to use a gun and has killed the other three men. In a shoot-out, David kills Ritchy and suffers a wound himself. After Doc Adams determines that he only has a flesh wound, the doc's assistant, Estella, an attractive Mexican-American woman, tends to David despite her contempt for gunfighters. Saloon owner Ed Bannister, an ex-gunfighter himself, welcomes David, saying that he had invited Ritchy to town, but now is happy to have David instead. When three other gunfighters, the Dawson brothers and Fred Jasper, arrive in town, they drink with David, impressed that he gunned down Ritchy. The friendliness amongst the gunslingers evaporates instantly when David expresses the wish to go see a girl, and Bannister says that there are no decent "white" women in the vicinity. David repays Estella for bandaging him, then tries to kiss her, but she threatens him with a scissors. They are interrupted by the sound of gunfire and find that the Dawsons and Jasper have strung up sheriff Jack Tillman and have begun to drunkenly fire at him as he swings from a rope. When David does nothing, Estella intercedes. One of the Dawson brothers grabs her and calls her "Chiquita," and when Jasper calls David "Pancho," David shoots him and one of the brothers, while the other rides off in fright. Bannister tells David of his plan to make Mesa a wide-open town where cowherders from Texas could spend their trail money at saloons and dancehalls without interference from the law. When he says he needs David's fast gun to back him up, David replies he does not like him. David tries to romance Estella again, but she rebuffs him, saying that her deceased husband was a gunfighter and that his death left her alone with a daughter, who now lives with in-laws in Wichita. She says it has taken her four years to establish herself in Mesa. Having witnessed the prejudice there, David questions whether she has been accepted, and she contends she has earned the town's respect. David is offered $100 a month plus a room to be the town's new sheriff, and he accepts. When Estella taunts him, he says he has won the respect of the town in one day, while it took her four years. She retorts that it is only his gun that is respected. Snubbed by some of the townsfolk, David gets drunk in the street with Breezy Morgan, an alcoholic. Estella encourages him to leave town, and he confesses that he took the job not because of the money but because of her. When she laughs that he only wants her for another notch in his gun, he slaps her and accuses her of trying to forget how she feels, and she cries. David gets into a fight with Bannister and wins, but when he learns from Doc Adams that he has broken his wrist, he is terrified that he can no longer be a gunfighter. Doc Adams warns him to leave town, but David convinces him not to tell anyone about his wrist. The next morning, David orders Bannister to get out of town by noon. When a young gunslinger new to town refuses to leave, David challenges him to draw, then slaps him down until the boy grabs at his arm. The doc, seeing David's pained look, takes David into his office, where Breezy overhears David say that because of his broken wrist, he plans to leave town once Bannister goes. Breezy relates this to Bannister, who now challenges David to meet him in the street in ten minutes. When Estella suggests they leave town and make a home together with her daughter, he kisses her and tells her to have the horses saddled up; however, when he steps onto the street and Bannister taunts him, he rolls up his sleeve and unravels his bandage. David challenges Bannister to draw, but Bannister, suspecting David paid Breezy to give him false information so that he could gun him down, allows David to take his gun. Estella now looks at David with pride, and they walk together past the horses that were waiting to take them out of town.
Guinn "big Boy" Williams
Robert L. Jacks
Robert L. Jacks
Man from Del Rio -
The film rests on the sturdy shoulders of Quinn, who plays a simple man with no ulterior motives apart from his idea of justice. He takes their offer to be the town's new sheriff in part as a step up to respectability but also as a way to romance Estella (Katy Jurado), the Mexican housekeeper of the town doctor (Douglas Fowley). His dignity is short-lived when he realizes that the white townsfolk consider him nothing more than a paid servant, good enough to clean up their streets but beneath their social station. The working title of the film was The Lonely Gun, which fits the sense of isolation that Dave feels in this town. Race and class and an unearned sense of moral superiority simmer under the surface of a plot heading to an inevitable showdown between Dave and the town's would-be crime boss.
The great Mexican actress Katy Jurado, memorable in such American classics as Bullfighter and the Lady (1951), High Noon (1952), and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), took second billing in the credits. Though a leading lady in Mexico, this was her first star billing in an American film. Douglas Fowley played Doc Holliday on the TV series The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp and provides a measure of moral authority in a town rife with hypocrisy as a more traditional town doctor here and prolific character actors Whit Bissell (the not-so-good doctors of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was a Teenage Werewolf, both 1957) and Douglas Spencer (the sardonic reporter in the original The Thing From Another World, 1951) lend their able support in small roles.
Anthony Quinn squeezed this modest western in between a couple of major productions that took him to France. He had just returned from the hills of Provence, where he played Paul Gauguin in Vincent Minnelli's Lust For Life (1956), a performance that would earn him his second Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and was soon to fly back to Paris to play Quasimodo in a French remake of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956). Man from Del Rio took him back to Hollywood, or rather to a "movie ranch" in Placerita Canyon just outside the moviemaking capitol.
If this particular dusty little frontier town looks familiar, it's likely because the busy Melody Ranch, formerly known as Placerita Ranch and Monogram Ranch, had been the location for scores of films and TV shows since old west street sets were constructed in 1936. Gene Autry renamed it Melody Ranch when he purchased it in 1953 and continued leasing it to film productions as well as to television shows in the TV western explosion. You can see the ranch's street sets in such films as The Gunfighter (1950) and Wichita (1955) and the TV shows Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel among its productions. The sets have since been rebuilt and the ranch continues to serve as a location for film productions and even has its own Melody Ranch Studio Museum.
Director of photography Stanley Cortez moved from B-movies to major studio productions, such as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and Since You Went Away (1944), and back again throughout his career. Before starting on Man from Del Rio, Cortez shot The Night of the Hunter (1955) for director Charles Laughton, helping to create one of the most expressionist films made by an American studio in the sound era. Though Man from Del Rio is far less stylized, Cortez creates an uneasy atmosphere in the way he transforms the town from an empty, seemingly desolate place deserted by the townsfolk as the outlaws run the streets into a main street teeming with ghoulishly curious citizens awaiting a gunfight.
European-born filmmaker Harry Horner had a relatively brief career as a director--his best known films are a pair of minor film noirs, Beware, My Lovely (1952) and Vicki (1953)--but he was also a successful production designer who earned two Academy Awards (for The Heiress, 1949, and The Hustler, 1961). Though he retired after the remake of The Jazz Singer (1980), he left behind a major legacy: two sons who kept the family name in Hollywood. Christopher Horner followed in his father's footsteps as a production designer and art director while James Horner became one of the busiest composers in Hollywood, matching his father's tally with two Oscars of his own, both for the blockbuster hit Titanic (1997).
By Sean Axmaker
One Man Tango, Anthony Quinn with Daniel Paisner. HarperCollins, 1995.
Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio website
Man from Del Rio -
TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado
KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002
Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz.
by Lang Thompson
DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002
Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request.
by Lang Thompson
ROD STEIGER, 1925 - 2002
From the docks of New York to the rural back roads of Mississippi to the war torn Russian steppes, Rod Steiger reveled in creating some of the most overpowering and difficult men on the screen. He could be a total scoundrel, embodying Machiavelli's idiom that "it's better to be feared than loved" in the movies. But as an actor he refused to be typecast and his wide range included characters who were secretly tormented (The Pawnbroker, 1965) or loners (Run of the Arrow, 1965) or eccentrics (The Loved One, 1965).
Along with Marlon Brando, Steiger helped bring the 'Method School' from the Group Theater and Actors Studio in New York to the screens of Hollywood. The Method technique, taught by Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, insisted on complete immersion into the character's psyche and resulted in intense, dramatic performances and performers. Steiger made his first significant screen appearance as Brando's older brother in On the Waterfront (1954). Their climatic scene together in a taxicab is one of the great moments in American cinema.
It was a short leap from playing a crooked lawyer in On the Waterfront to playing the shady boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall (1956). Based on the tragic tale of true-life fighter Primo Carnera, The Harder They Fall details the corruption behind the scenes of professional boxing bouts. Steiger is a fight manager named Nick Benko who enlists newspaperman Eddie Willis (Humphrey Bogart in his final screen appearance) to drum up publicity for a fixed prizefight. While the boxing scenes were often brutally realistic, the most powerful dramatic moments took place between Steiger and Bogart on the sidelines.
As mob boss Al Capone (1959), Steiger got to play another man you loved to hate. He vividly depicted the criminal from his swaggering early days to his pathetic demise from syphilis. In Doctor Zhivago (1965), Steiger was the only American in the international cast, playing the hateful and perverse Komarovsky. During the production of Dr. Zhivago, Steiger often found himself at odds with director David Lean. Schooled in the British tradition, Lean valued the integrity of the script and demanded that actors remain faithful to the script. Steiger, on the other hand, relied on improvisation and spontaneity. When kissing the lovely Lara (played by Julie Christie), Steiger jammed his tongue into Christie's mouth to produce the desired reaction - disgust. It worked! While it might not have been Lean's approach, it brought a grittier edge to the prestige production and made Komarovsky is a detestable but truly memorable figure.
Steiger dared audiences to dislike him. As the smalltown southern Sheriff Gillespie in In The Heat of the Night (1967), Steiger embodied all the prejudices and suspicions of a racist. When a black northern lawyer, played by Sidney Poitier, arrives on the crime scene, Gillespie is forced to recognize his fellow man as an equal despite skin color. Here, Steiger's character started as a bigot and developed into a better man. He finally claimed a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sheriff Gillespie.
Steiger was an actor's actor. A chameleon who didn't think twice about diving into challenging roles that others would shy away from. In the Private Screenings interview he did with host Robert Osborne he admitted that Paul Muni was one of his idols because of his total immersion into his roles. Steiger said, "I believe actors are supposed to create different human beings." And Steiger showed us a rich and diverse cross section of them.
by Jeremy Geltzer & Jeff Stafford
TCM Remembers - Katy Jurado
The working title of this film was The Lonely Gun. Hollywood Reporter called the film an "unusual and rather artistic western." According to modern sources, Katherine DeMille, who was married to Anthony Quinn at the time, had a small role in the film.
Released in United States Fall October 1956
Released in United States Fall October 1956