THE QUIET GUN. Regal Films / 20th Century Fox, 1957. Forrest Tucker, Mara Corday, Jim Davis, Kathleen Crowley, Lee Van Cleef, Tim Brown. Based on the novel Law Man, by Lauren Paine. Director: William F. Claxton

   Sheriff Carl Brandon (Forrest Tucker) is a man with a code. The quiet but strong type, he is the lawman of a Western frontier town. With a live and let live attitude, he does not seem to have all that much to do, other than keep things calm. All that changes when the city attorney comes to his office and tells him that he and the town are about to file an immorality complaint against rancher Ralph Carpenter (Jim Davis).

   Carpenter’s alleged crime? Relations with a teenage Indian girl named Irene (Mara Corday). After all, his beautiful wife has temporarily left him due to marital troubles and it can’t simply be that the Indian girl is his servant? Can it?

   Brandon warns the city attorney to let it be. First of all, Carpenter is an old friend of his. But more importantly, the good sheriff knows that provoking Carpenter will be like provoking a bear and will likely result in bloodshed. The city attorney is determined, however, to have his say and ends up getting himself killed by Carpenter.

   What follows is a compelling hour or so of action and drama in which Brandon investigates what happened at the ranch and attempts to uncover the conspiracy that ends up getting Carpenter and Irene murdered before it all ends. This leads him into a direct conflict with saloon owner John Reilly (Tim Brown) and cattle rustler Doug Sadler (Lee Van Cleef).

   In many ways The Quiet Gun could just have easily been a pilot for a late 1950s TV Western with Forrest Tucker cast as the lead, but the movie transcends the limitations of the small screen with some stark visuals, a hardy cynicism, and a rather dismal view of the human propensity to gossip. It would seem as if nearly every man in the town except Brandon and his deputy, the kind, but mentally slow Sampson (portrayed by Hank Worden, known for his association with John Ford).

   There’s not much in this Regal Films production that you haven’t seen before – a man quietly in love with his friend’s wife; a lynch mob exacting brutal frontier justice; and a sheriff holed up in his office determined to make sure that his prisoners face a judge rather than a street mob – but one thing I noticed in The Quiet Gun is that nary a minute is wasted. This is a taut, well-edited film and one that deserves more attention.