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Gunfight in Abilene (1967)

Approved | | Western | March 1967 (USA)
Fighting in the Civil War a man accidently kills his friend. Returning to Abilene after the war he finds his former sweetheart about to marry the brother of the man he killed. To pay his ... See full summary »


William Hale


Berne Giler (screenplay), John D.F. Black (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Bobby Darin ... Cal Wayne
Emily Banks ... Amy Martin
Leslie Nielsen ... Grant Evers
Donnelly Rhodes ... Joe Slade
Don Galloway ... Ward Kent
Frank McGrath ... Ned Martin
Michael Sarrazin ... Cord Decker
Barbara Werle ... Leann
Johnny Seven ... Loop
William Phipps ... Frank Norton
William Mims William Mims ... Ed Scovie
Robert Sorrells Robert Sorrells ... Nelson
Don Dubbins ... Sprague
James McCallion ... Smoky Staub
Bryan O'Byrne ... Frobisher


Fighting in the Civil War a man accidently kills his friend. Returning to Abilene after the war he finds his former sweetheart about to marry the brother of the man he killed. To pay his debt he not only refuses to win her back but takes the job of Sheriff, a job he doesn't want, when the brother asks him. Still haunted by the killing he refuses to carry a gun. But there is trouble between the ranchers and the farmers and when he finds the brother murdered he straps on a gun and heads after the killer. Written by Maurice VanAuken <mvanauken@a1access.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The time: NOON! The odds: DESPERATE! The result: MEMORABLE!




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

March 1967 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Sheriff schießt zurück See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Michael Sarrazin. See more »


Bobby Darren enters the town; his cigar is clearly fake as no smoke comes out. Later, he is briefly puffing on a real cigar. See more »


Joe Slade: Strip off his shirt. Tie 'im up to that wagon.
See more »


Referenced in Never a Dull Moment (1968) See more »


Words and Music by Bobby Darin
Performed by Bobby Darin (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Bobby Darin's black gloves don't save this oater, but Leslie Nielsen does
2 January 2014 | by BigJohnPilgrimSee all my reviews

Cal Wayne (Bobby Darin) returns home from the Civil War a broken man, haunted and afraid to strap on a gun because he had mistakenly killed his friend. Upon return, he finds that his dead friend's brother, Grant Evers (Leslie Nielsen) has taken over the town with the help of a bullying sheriff, and is engaged to marry the woman Cal loves. With a supporting role by Michael Sarrazin in his big screen debut as a kind-hearted rancher who is flogged by the evil sheriff while returning a stray calf, and eventually dies from the beating (triggering the violent series of confrontations that ends the movie).

The plot of this movie, while following a tried and true formula, does introduce some interesting twists and turns. However, Bobby Darin was a poor fit for the role. One inescapably concludes that Universal was trying him out in the western lead role, and he obviously failed as it was his only western.

Darin's acting seemed forced, his scrawny frame swaggering around with an exaggerated chest-out, shoulders-back posture. His fight scenes with larger men were so forced and obviously scripted that they come off as feeble. His acting was a series of attempts to over-emphasize every word with uncomfortable pregnant pauses while we study his face in close-up. It's all rather bizarre. Even more bizarrely, he wears black leather gloves throughout the entire movie, and appears uncomfortable doing so, constantly tugging at them. Perhaps they were hiding small hands. Who knows, but they stuck out like a sore thumb (no pun intended). He clearly did not belong in this role. Watching him in this movie felt more like watching a low-grade soap opera.

But along comes Leslie Nielsen with another brilliant performance to save the day (barely). Leslie's acting, as always, is smooth and professional and realistic. He plays someone who sits atop an empire with an evil sheriff supporting his power play, emanating barely perceptible evilness. But he also plays a good guy who helps Darin's return to his hometown by giving him back his old job as sheriff, and he doesn't try to force himself on Darin's former girlfriend even though he is engaged to marry her. At one point he even offers to postpone the wedding because he knows he doesn't have her heart. This is one of the interesting plot twists, that Nielsen's character generously offers to give up the girl because he knows she is really in love with Darin's character.

But even Nielsen's film-saving performance and Michael Sarrazin's supporting and sympathetic role in his first appearance on the big screen aren't enough to salvage Bobby Darin's attempt at a leading western man. At times he appears to be trying to emulate Dean Martin in appearance and manner, but fails miserably. Barely made a 6-star rating in my book, and only because of Nielsen and Sarrazin.

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