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CASSIDY, A LIGHTNING FAST, BLACK GLOVED GUNFIGHTER, SEEKS TO AVENGE THE DEATH OF THE INNOCENT AT THE HANDS OF A JEALOUS OUTLAW, WHO'S MADE IT PERSONAL BY KIDNAPPING CASSIDY'S GIRL. NOW ACCOMPANIED BY TWO RANCH HANDS, CASSIDY'S TRAIL WILL HAVE HIM FACE NEAR DEATH AND AN INEVITABLE DUEL.
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Christopher Coppola (nephew of Francis, who "presents" the film) attempts to capture the innocence of Saturday matinee Westerns in this naive little film. Gunfighter is framed as a tale told by a grizzled stranger (Martin Sheen) to a down and out guitar slinger and songwriter (Robert Carradine) in an abandoned ghost-town bar, but the dark interiors give way to bright color and widescreen photography. Stiff and colorless Chris Lybbert plays town hero Hopalong Cassidy, a tall, clean-cut figure of courage and moral fortitude who becomes the target of a vengeful cattle rustler who kidnaps his girl. Hoppy shoots the guns from his opponent's hands in the opening gunfight, pops the buttons from the same man's shirt in the final shootout, and in cliffhanger fashion is left tied up with a hissing bundle of lit dynamite. Coppola unfortunately bobbles the exercise in B-movie cowboy hokum with sloppy direction, and the film comes off more cornball than cute, though to its credit no recent film has come closer to capturing the straight-shooting simplicity of the kiddy cowboy heroes of yesteryear. -–Sean Axmaker
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