HANDS OF A GUNFIGHTER is an early spaghetti western, pre-Leone success, with one foot still in Hollywood. The literal translation of the Italian title is TWILIGHT OF A GUNFIGHTER which fit the movie much better than the American. It used some of the same sets that Leone did for A Fistful of Dollars.
Craig Hill stars as Dan Murphy, a retired gunfighter trying to live a straight life with his wife and son, but haunted by nightmares of an incident four years before when a sheriff had tried to arrest him when he had his infant son in his arms. As he quickly turns, the sheriff fires, hitting and killing the baby.
How can this be?
Murphy got his measure of revenge after escaping by coming back and taking the sheriff’s baby boy and raising him with his wife as their own!
All that is coming to an end as a gunman, a sympathetic one, finds them and makes an offer. Return the boy and the sheriff will pretend Murphy was killed and the ten thousand bounty would be gone. Dan’s wife, Laura(Gloria Milland) convinces him that might be best for the boy.
Murphy had been living the straight life and packed his two gun rig away. He’d avoided trouble to the extent that some believe him a coward. That would be the four Carter brothers, the bully boys of the town. As usual in this set-up, the worst was the youngest. always looking for trouble, then whining to his brothers to help him out.
Friends of Murphy and his wife are about to be married. Pat Davis(Carlos Romero Marchent, related to the director and screenwriter) is to marry Margaret Dixon(Conchita Núñez), daughter of saloon keeper Alex(Francisco Sanz). That younger Carter brother had always fancied her and shortly after the wedding, the two men get into a fist fight. with father-in-law Alex killing Carter when he’s about to shoot Pat.
That sets the three brothers into a killing rage, shooting te Davis clan and burning the house.
Murphy’s nerves are already tightly wound from giving up the boy he’d been raising and he straps the guns back on to go after the brothers. Drinking takes him further down until he goes for the boy at the end.
A decidedly odd spaghetti western made before Leone’s style changed so much.