Blu-ray review: “Last Train from Gun Hill” (1959)

“Last Train from Gun Hill” (1959)


Running Time: 90 minutes

Written by: James Poe

Directed by: John Sturges

Featuring: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn and Earl Holliman

Gun Hill Sheriff Bartlett: “Far as I’m concerned, you can go out on the street and get yourself killed anytime you want to, but, you know something, 40 years from now the weeds’ll grow just as pretty on my grave as they will on yours. Nobody’ll even remember that I was yellow and you died like a fool. That’s your long view, son. Always take the long view.”

Marshal Matt Morgan: “I’ve got two warrants, and I’m gonna serve them. I’m leavin’ town with two men, and the long view is this: don’t try to stop me!”

Critical Commentary

“Last Train from Gun Hill” is a classic western movie released in 1959 and directed by John Sturges. The film stars Kirk Douglas as Marshal Matt Morgan, who is seeking justice for his murdered wife. The story takes place in the small town of Gun Hill, where Morgan’s wife is raped and killed by two cowboys. Morgan discovers that one of the cowboys is the son of an old friend, Craig Beldon (played by Anthony Quinn), who is now a wealthy and powerful rancher. Beldon refuses to turn over his son to the law, and Morgan must take matters into his own hands. The film is a tense and dramatic exploration of themes such as revenge, justice, and loyalty. Kirk Douglas delivers a powerful performance as the determined and morally upright Marshal Matt Morgan. Anthony Quinn also gives a great performance as the conflicted and grief-stricken rancher, torn between his loyalty to his son and his sense of right and wrong. The film’s direction is solid, and the pacing is excellent, with the tension building steadily throughout the movie. The action scenes are well-executed, and the cinematography is impressive, capturing the rugged beauty of the western landscape. Overall, “Last Train from Gun Hill” is a must-see for fans of classic westerns. It’s a gripping and emotionally charged film that explores complex themes while delivering plenty of action and suspense.

One of the standout aspects of the film is the exploration of the idea of justice, particularly the tension between personal vengeance and the rule of law. Morgan’s determination to bring his wife’s killers to justice is admirable, but his pursuit of revenge puts him at odds with his duties as a law enforcement officer. Similarly, Beldon’s desire to protect his son clashes with his sense of right and wrong. The film also touches on themes of loyalty and friendship, as Morgan and Beldon are old friends who find themselves on opposite sides of a moral dilemma. The conflict between them is complex and nuanced, and the audience is left to question where their loyalties truly lie.

In addition to Douglas and Quinn’s performances, the supporting cast is strong as well. Carolyn Jones plays Linda, a saloon girl who helps Morgan in his quest for justice, and Earl Holliman delivers a memorable performance as Beldon’s hot-headed son. “Last Train from Gun Hill” is a well-crafted and emotionally charged western that explores complex themes while delivering thrilling action and memorable performances. It’s a must-see for fans of the genre and a testament to the talents of its director and cast.

Another aspect of the film worth noting is the attention to detail in the production design. The sets and costumes are meticulously crafted, transporting the audience back to the Old West. The town of Gun Hill feels like a real place with its dusty streets and dilapidated buildings, and the costumes reflect the rugged and practical clothing of the era. The film’s score, composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, also adds to the tension and drama of the story. The music is both haunting and powerful, elevating the emotions of the scenes.

One of the film’s strengths is the way it balances action and suspense with character development and thematic exploration. The audience is given time to get to know the characters and their motivations before the story ramps up into its thrilling climax. “Last Train from Gun Hill” is a well-crafted and emotionally resonant western that still holds up today. The performances, direction, and production design all work together to create a compelling and engaging story that explores complex themes. Whether you’re a fan of westerns or just a lover of great cinema, “Last Train from Gun Hill” is a film worth watching.

“Last Train from Gun Hill” is a film that is not afraid to challenge the norms of the genre. The film does not shy away from difficult subject matter, such as rape and murder, and explores the morality of revenge and justice. The characters are not one-dimensional heroes or villains, but complex individuals with their own motivations and struggles. In addition to its thematic depth, the film features some impressive action scenes that are both well-choreographed and realistic. The final showdown on the train is particularly memorable, with Morgan and Beldon facing off in a tense and thrilling confrontation.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that “Last Train from Gun Hill” is a film that has stood the test of time. Despite being over 60 years old, the themes and messages of the film still resonate today, and the performances and direction are just as compelling as they were back in 1959.

“Last Train from Gun Hill” is a classic western that is not only entertaining but also thought-provoking and emotionally resonant. It’s a film that explores complex themes and challenges the norms of the genre, while still delivering thrilling action and memorable performances. Whether you’re a fan of westerns or just a lover of great cinema, this film is definitely worth your time.

Technical Commentary


Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, “Last Train from Gun Hill” arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Via Vision Entertainment.  The release introduces Paramount’s recent 6K restoration of Last Train From Gun Hill, which was initially made available in North America. Even though the visuals can be quite striking, it is pretty easy to tell that Blu-ray struggles to accurately reproduce the amount of native information that was captured by the VistaVision camera.  


There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release: English LPCM 2.0. Optional English SDH subtitles are provided for the main feature. Dynamic strength and balance are excellent. Clarity and sharpness are really good as well.

Special Features

  • 1080p high-definition presentation from a 6K film transfer of the original VistaVision negative
  • Audio commentary by film historian Stephen Prince (2020)
  • Filmmaker Focus – Leonard Maltin on “Last Train from Gun Hill”
  • Theatrical Trailer

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