Gun for a Coward (1957)
A western that could easily pass you by, with Fred MacMurray playing against type as he leads a cattle drive to Abilene. Joining him on the drive are his two brothers Bless Keough (Jeffrey Hunter) who has no back bone to make decisions of his own. Nearly leaving for St Louis with his mother who wont let him be his own man. Whilst their kid brother Hade Keough (Dean Stockwell) who is more than wearing to get going, leading adult adventures with no real thought for the consequences. All making Gun For a Coward (1957) a standard moral tale in the west.
Driven more by the characters than any big set pieces that make most films of the genre memorable. Questioning the moral centre of what a man is supposed to be, in the traditional and changing form of the definition of what it is to be a man. Traditionally, standing up for your name and yourself, which still exist but is less prominent in place of self-confidence and openness with yourself. A man who is scared of pulling his gun to save his brother from a snake, backing out of a fight, would all be call for labels back before WWII. Now that the horrors of the conflict had come home with the soldiers, when being afraid was accepted amongst friends.
Throwing in the girl to the mix, the older brothers fight over Aud Niven (Janice Rule) who is first promised to the eldest of the brother Will Keough (MacMurray) who works hard whilst he waits for the day. Whilst his cowardly brother develops a real connection with the girl who can not be realised until later on. Something has to change to bring them together, and when it does, it’s the breaking and re-moulding of the man Bless who begins to stand up for himself with renewed confidence.
Not the strongest film, or memorable yet has a strong centre that shows that we have to respect others for who they are. That those who are different have a harder journey in life to realise and be understood by everyone else.