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No Name on the Bullet (1959)

No Name on the Bullet poster

The most highly decorated of American World War 2 heroes, Audie Murphy had an amazing career in mid-range westerns. Here he’s directed by sci fi maestro Jack Arnold as a killer who rides into town and nobody knows who he’s here to kill. The screenplay was by Gene Coon, who was making his way up through television series like Bonanza and Wagon Train and many episodes of Schlitz Playhouse and would also translate Hemingway’s The Killers, the terrific Don Siegel production, a few years later. In the sci fi world however he is renowned for his work on Star Trek – where he devised the Klingons,  the ‘Prime Directive’ and was instrumental in developing the humorous banter between Spock and McCoy. He fell out with cast members but continued to write some of the great episodes and usually included an anti-war allegory as a topper. The dialogue here is superb – ranging from spare, brittle, brutal to pithy, sharp and philosophical. He produced the wonderfully entertaining series It Takes a Thief, which starred Fred Astaire and Robert Wagner. He died horribly young aged 49, in 1973, just a week after being diagnosed with cancer. Murphy himself scored Universal’s biggest hit with the film of his autobiography, To Hell and Back (1955), a record unbroken until Jaws in 1975 and he too had a tragically early end, two years earlier than Coon, when, aged 46, he died in a plane crash in heavy fog in Virginia en route to a business meeting. Only President John F. Kennedy’s grave at Arlington has more visitors.


About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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