The Sheepman

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"They called him the STRANGER WITH A GUN..."
  • Passed
  • 1958
  • 1 hr 25 min
  • 6.8  (2,936)

The Sheepman is a 1958 western comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Glenn Ford, Shirley MacLaine, and Leslie Nielsen. The plot centers around Jason Sweet, a tough sheepman who comes to the rough and tumble town of Powder Valley and finds himself at loggerheads with local cattle barons. The film is known for its sharp wit, clever double entendres, and memorable performances.

The movie begins with Sweet (played by Glenn Ford) arriving in Powder Valley with his herd of sheep. From the get-go, he's at odds with the local cattlemen, who view sheep as a nuisance and an inferior breed. While Sweet tries to make peace with his new neighbors, he soon finds himself embroiled in a feud with the wealthy and influential local landowner, Colonel Hector Cyrus (played by Leslie Nielsen).

Adding fuel to the fire is a beautiful and impetuous young woman named Dell Payton (played by Shirley MacLaine), who has her own history with Cyrus and his family. Dell quickly takes a liking to Sweet's rugged charm, much to the chagrin of the other men in town. What follows is a humorous and action-packed story of romance, rivalry, and redemption.

One of the most striking things about The Sheepman is the way it blends elements of classic westerns with a more modern sensibility. While the film is set in the Old West and features all the trappings of a traditional cowboy movie (including shootouts, bar brawls, and horseback chases), it also has a sharp wit and a knowing self-awareness that makes it feel fresh and contemporary.

For example, many of the characters in the movie are aware of the genre conventions that they're inhabiting, and they play up and subvert those expectations for comedic effect. Glenn Ford's Jason Sweet is a classic western hero, with his rugged good looks and his tough-guy demeanor, but he's also a bit of a trickster, fond of playing practical jokes on his rivals and using his wits as much as his fists to get out of tight spots.

Shirley MacLaine's Dell Payton, meanwhile, is a fascinating character in her own right. She's no damsel in distress - in fact, she's often the one who saves Sweet from danger. She's also a liberated woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind or defy societal conventions. Her unconventional attitudes toward love and marriage provide some of the film's most memorable and amusing moments.

The performances in The Sheepman are uniformly excellent. Glenn Ford is perfect as the wisecracking sheepman with a heart of gold, while Shirley MacLaine brings a fierce and fun energy to her role. Leslie Nielsen, playing against type as a villain, is deliciously nasty and conniving, and his scenes with Ford crackle with tension.

The supporting cast is equally strong, with a number of memorable character actors filling out the ensemble. Edgar Buchanan, for example, is hilarious as the befuddled mayor of Powder Valley, and Mickey Shaughnessy is great as a lovable oaf who befriends Sweet. Even the bit players get their moment to shine, with a number of memorable one-liners and sight gags sprinkled throughout the film.

The movie's direction and cinematography are also top-notch. Director George Marshall (who had previously worked on such classics as Destry Rides Again and How the West Was Won) knows how to stage an action scene for maximum impact, and his use of wide angles, sweeping vistas, and deep focus helps to give the film a grandiose and epic feel.

Overall, The Sheepman is a standout entry in the western-comedy genre. With its clever writing, memorable characters, and lively performances, it's a movie that is sure to entertain fans of both classic westerns and modern comedies alike. Whether you're in the mood for a thrilling gunfight or a witty verbal sparring match, this film has something for everyone.

The Sheepman
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 25 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.8  (2,936)