The Shakiest Gun in the West

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The Shakiest Gun in the West
Shakiestguninthewest.jpg
Directed by Alan Rafkin
Produced by Edward Montagne
Written by Jim Fritzell
Everett Greenbaum
Screenplay by Frank Tashlin
Edmund Hartmann
Starring Don Knotts
Barbara Rhoades
Jackie Coogan
Music by Vic Mizzy
Cinematography Andrew Jackson
Edited by Tony Martinelli
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • November 30, 1968 (1968-11-30)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,650,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The Shakiest Gun in the West is a 1968 Western comedy film starring Don Knotts. It was directed by Alan Rafkin and written by Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum.[2]

The film is a remake of The Paleface, a 1948 movie starring Bob Hope and Jane Russell.

The soundtrack by Vic Mizzy was released on CD by Percepto in 2007. Mizzy highlights a comic tone to the score while paying subtle tribute to Ennio Morricone.

Plot[edit]

Jesse W. Haywood (Don Knotts) graduates from dental school in Philadelphia in 1870 and goes west to become a frontier dentist. As a "city slicker", he finds himself bungling in a new environment.

On his way west, the stagecoach is held up and robbed by two masked bandits. A posse catches one of them, Penelope "Bad Penny" Cushing (Barbara Rhoades).

Facing prison, Penelope is offered a pardon if she will track down a ring of gun smugglers that also involves a local Indian tribe. Because the wagon train she plans to accompany will not permit single women to join, she tricks Haywood into a sham marriage as a disguise.

Jesse, excited for his wedding night and not realizing the sham of his marriage, looks for Penelope who is investigating the crates of "bibles" the preacher and his minion have in their tent. Jesse startled Penelope who alerts the camp. Her investigation foiled, she goes to bed dragging along her bungling husband.

As the wagon train draws near the town, Indians attack. As Jesse fumbles with his six shooter, Penelope expertly shoots the attackers. Jesse, believing he was responsible is proud of his accomplishment and is treated as a hero by the wagon train and the entire town that hears of his deeds.

The Preacher and his minion, believing Jesse to be the undercover federal agent, hires the local outlaw Arnold the Kid to challenge Jesse to a gunfight. In the yard as Jesse practices for his gunfight, Penelope meets with her contact in town. Around the corner, Arnold listens for Jesse to use up his rounds and after the sixth shot challenges Jesse, even offering him the first shot. Penelope, feeling pity for Jesse, kills Arnold from the window.

Haywood inadvertently becomes the legendary "Doc the Heywood" after he guns down "Arnold the Kid" and performs other exploits (all with covert assistance from Penny).

Later at night as Penelope leaves to search the church where the Preacher resides, Jesse confronts her demanding where she is going. Penelope explains her situation and Jesse offers his help believing himself to be a crack shot. Penelope, not wanting Jesse to hurt himself, tells him the truth about her assistance on the wagon train and with Arnold. Penelope leaves, apologizing to Jesse, who is now heartbroken.

Penelope investigates the church and is kidnapped by the Preacher and his minion, who take her to the Indian village outside of town. Meanwhile, Jesse walks into the saloon and admits the truth of his deeds to the town...who now find him a joke. As a drunken Jesse stumbles out of the saloon he sees Penelope being taken out of town by the Preacher. Jesse follows them to the Indian village to save Penelope.

In disguise as a Squaw, Jesse maneuvers around the village and frees Penelope suggesting they wait for the entire village to get even more drunk. Eventually Jesse is discovered and the Preacher and his Minion challenge Jesse to a gunfight. Jesse is confidant as he knows Penelope is armed and ready in the shadows. As Penelope sets her sight she is grabbed by two marshals who sneaked into the village to save her. Two gun shots rang out and Penelope crestfallen leaves the village. Jesse however stands victorious with the Preacher and his minion shot dead. Jesse is surrounded by the rest of the village and appears doomed.

Back at the town, the gates are barred and the townspeople prepare for a battle. To everyone's surprise Jesse rides with the Chief at his side and the remainder of the tribe behind them. Jesse has made peace with the Chief, using his dentistry skills to replace his missing teeth and orders him a rare steak. Jesse and Penelope reunite and hug.

There are a couple of scenes which parody similar scenes in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with John Wayne and James Stewart. The stage coach holdup scene is the first encounter that both city dudes have with the "wild west". In the gunfight scene, both "dudes" are about to be shot down in duels with experienced gunfighters when they are saved by one of the good guys who shoots the villain from a hidden position which makes the shooting look like the underdog winning a legitimate gunfight.

Cast[edit]

Beethoven film[edit]

The plot of the film Beethoven's 3rd revolves around a DVD copy of The Shakiest Gun in the West, and, consequently, this film is discussed during the Beethoven film.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  2. ^ IMDb full credits

External links[edit]