SHOTGUN. Allied Artists, 1955. Sterling Hayden, Yvonne De Carlo, Zachary Scott, Guy Prescott. Screenplay: Clark E. Reynolds & Rory Calhoun. Director: Lesley Selander.

   When I recently discovered a DVD copy of Shotgun at a used record store, my first thought was: count me in! After all, I’m a fan of Sterling Hayden and definitely appreciate Zachary Scott’s presence in Westerns, particularly those where he portrays a slimy, half-good, half-bad character. Plus with Yvonne De Carlo as the female lead, I thought I’d stumbled upon a minor gem that I hadn’t heard of before.

   Alas, it was not to be. Shotgun is, in many respects, a complete misfire. It’s not that the movie doesn’t have some solid acting, and it’s not as if the script is a total disaster. It’s just that the film really has no particular cinematic presence, aside from being just another mid-1950s genre movie with mid-level star power. Simply put, there’s nothing new under western skies in this movie that you haven’t seen before.

   Hayden portrays the laconic Clay Harden, outlaw-turned-lawman. After his the shotgun-wielding outlaw named Ben Thompson (Guy Prescott) mows down his friend and colleague, Harden takes it upon himself to exact bloody revenge. He sets out, shotgun in hand, to Apache Territory to find Thompson.

   Along the way, he encounters the enigmatic but sexy wildcat Abby (De Carlo) and bounty hunter Reb (Scott), a man he knows from his past. There is romance, Apaches on the warpath, gun running, and a final duel. Some of it’s worth watching, but a lot of it feels like it’s all by rote and checking off boxes. Western tropes come flying like a shotgun blast in this one.