Beyond his success as a country singer, Marty Robbins occasionally acted, for instance starring in the short-lived Western series The Drifter (1965–1966). This movie, which contains Robbins’ last leading performance, is a quasi-continuation of that series, because Robbins stars as a former sheriff who goes by the nickname “Drifter.” Envision an anemic rehash of the plot from Shane (1953), and you know roughly what to expect here. Kind but tough Matthew (Robbins) leaves law enforcement for life on the roam, then happens upon a family in trouble. Elderly Tom Duncan (Chill Wills) isn’t up to the task of protecting his grandchildren, pretty twentysomething Virginia (Dovie Beams) and impressionable grade-schooler Danny (Steven Tackett), from generic frontier varmints. Seeing injustice sparks Matthew to action—sort of. Among the most casually paced Western movies ever made, Guns of a Stranger meanders from one inconsequential event to the next, so viewers never get a sense of impending danger. In fact, the movie frequently stops dead so Matthew can warble a tune or impart a life lesson to the worshipful Danny. Storytelling this vapid went out with Gene Autry, and matters are made worse by the excruciatingly bad supporting performances; although Robbins is competent, Wills is well past his prime and Beams is stunningly awful. Guns of a Stranger is so enervated that it verges on accidental comedy at times, as when Matthew participates in a lengthy but pointless bare-knuckle brawl or when he sings a lullaby to a group of cows.
Guns of a Stranger: LAME