The B movie GUN BELT is another one of those takes on the Wyatt Earp story, only Wyatt and Virgil are relegated to minor roles in the film. Our hero is Billy Ringo(George Montgomery), a gunman who hung up his guns years before. He owns a small ranch with his nephew Chip(Tab Hunter) outside of Tombstone. Chip’s father, Matt(John Dehner), is serving a prison sentence and Billy is determined to keep him off the outlaw trail. He’s scheduled to get married the following weekend to Arlene Reach(Helen Westcott). The ranch is a low budget affair and the bank president is forced by the board of directors to call in the loan. The man gives Billy until the next morning to come up with the $3,600, forcing him to sell most of his herd off on the cheap to raise the money.
At the same time, Matt Ringo is broken out of prison by an old partner of Billy’s, Douglas Frazer(Hugh Sanders), an “honest” businessman who owns half of Tombstone. There’s some sort of half million dollar deal and Frazer won’t talk to anyone but Billy about it.
Billy is not interested when Matt shows up, especially when his brother reveals he had to kill a guard when he broke out. Chip is upset that Billy won’t help his dad. Matt leaves, but it’s not that easy. He shows up the next morning with his gang, one of them played by old western stalwart Jack Elam, as Billy arrives at the bank with the check and force their way in, making it appear that Billy is in on the bank holdup. A guard is killed.
All to force Billy into this big job.
It leads to Matt’s death in a fight and a pistol that goes off right in the middle. An even more angry Chip takes his dad’s body home, a hatred for his uncle starting to build.
Determined to clear his name, Billy pretends to fall in with the gang and visits Frazer to learn about this big job. A half million in gold and paper is coming in on a special wagon, supposedly secret, and Frazer’s forced upon him partner is planning to hit it. Frazer wants Billy to hijack it from his partner and they’ll split the half million. The unfavored partner is Ike Clinton(William Bishop) and, no, that’s not a misspelling. Clinton wants Billy dead as well, so the stage is set.
Billy brings the Earps in on it, Arlene having convinced them that Billy didn’t do the bank robbery, and an ambush is planned.
Chip now wants to kill Billy, who’s said some harsh things to drive the boy away from the gang, and throws in with Clinton to hold up the freight shipment.
Factually wrong on a lot of accounts, at least as we in modern times know of those incidents danced aroundand embellished so many times, one thing they did get right was Virgil was actually the Marshall and Wyatt the deputy. Morgan was no where around or ever mentioned. Some of the other characters in the overall story are here, Curley Bill, Texas Jack, and Turkey Creek, those most were killed by Clinton over greed for the whole half million.
Decent B western.
For more overlooked movies, as always on Tuesdays, check out Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.