Death of a Gunfighter
is a 1969 Western film
. It is most notable for the first use of the pseudonymous Allen Smithee directorial
credit. It stars Richard Widmark
and Lena Horne
, and features an original score by Oliver Nelson
. The film develops its story around the "passing" of the West, the clash between a traditional character and the politics and demands of modern society.
The film began under the direction of Robert Totten, an experienced television director (Gunsmoke
, The Legend of Jesse James
). After clashes with star Widmark, and almost a year of work, he was dropped and replaced by Don Siegel
. When the film was finished Siegel did not want his name to replace Totten's. Widmark protested and an agreement was made with the Directors Guild of America
for the pseudonym Alan Smithee to be used.
Despite this, critics praised the film and its "new" director, with The New York Times
commenting that the film was "sharply directed by Allen Smithee who has an adroit facility for scanning faces and extracting sharp background detail,"Thompson, Howard (May 10 1969). "Screen: Tough Western: 'Death of a Gunfighter' Stars Widmark" New York Times
and Roger Ebert
commenting, "Director Allen Smithee, a name I'm not familiar with, allows his story to unfold naturally."
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