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Invitation to a Gunfighter (UA 1964, Yul Brynner, George Segal)



Richard Wilson’s western Invitation to a Gunfighter stars George Segal as Matt Weaver, returning home to Pecos, New Mexico after the Civil War only to find town boss Sam Brewster (Pat Hingle) has cheated him out of his ranch. Holing up, armed to the teeth, the townsfolk decide to hire a professional gunslinger and in rides Jules Gaspard d’Estaing (Yul Brynner).

A deadly shot and an expert poker player, he can also play the spinet and quote poetry. But he has a secret grudge against his employers and is more concerned with revenge against them than against Weaver. Janice Rule plays Weaver’s ex who falls for the suave D’Estaing’s spell but as the explosive climax approaches, Weaver finds himself the reluctant saviour of the town.

Yul Brynner, as the mysterious half-black/half-Creole gunslinger, comes on the scene as if from out of nowhere, acting very much like a displaced King of Siam crossed with Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name. The way in which a refined, educated dandy arrived at his current profession, revealed half-way through the film, is a pivotal plot point of this offbeat, darkly humorous Western.

Richard Wilson, who produced, wrote and directed the movie, was one of the original members of Orson Welles’ and John Houseman’s Mercury Players. Wilson started as an assistant and general gofer in the 1930s, and later appeared in Citizen Kane (1941) and The Lady from Shanghai (1948) before starting his career as a producer.

production details
USA | UA – Stanley Kramer | 92 minutes | 1964

Writers: Elizabeth and Richard Wilson
Producer and Director: Richard Wilson
Art Director: Robert Clatworthy
Director of Photography: Joseph MacDonald
Composer: David Raksin

Yul Brynner as Jules Gaspard d’Estaing
Strother Martin as Fiddler
George Segal as Matt Weaver
Brad Dexter as Kenarsie
Pat Hingle as Sam Brewster
Clarke Gordon as Hickman
Janice Rule as Ruth Adams
Alfred Ryder as Doc Barker
Clifford David as Crane Adams
Mike Kellin as Blind Union Vet
Bert Freed as Sheriff
John A. Alonzo as Manuel
Curt Conway as McKeever
Gerald Hiken as Gully
Clifton James as Tuttle