In the same vein as my Come Hell or High Water review a couple of weeks ago, The Showdown is a new western done by independent film company North American Motion Pictures Entertainment (NAMPE). Instead of a Reconstruction-era revenge story, this time it's about US Marshal Luke Canfield keeping the peace in the town of Sand Prairie, Texas. Though I can't say that Come Hell or High Water was my favorite western, The Showdown has renewed my hope for NAMPE films.
The first thing that struck me when I watched was the music. Immediately it got me in the mood for a western. And I honestly can't say whether it was the simple guitar melody, the twang of the west, or the sound of Ron Stuber and the Sand Prairie Tumbleweed Band, but it worked. And it was consistently entertaining as part of the film, not just as an afterthought.
The second thing I noticed was the tone of the movie. Where Come Hell or High Water was darkened with the taint of revenge, The Showdown had a much lighter approach. There were actual humorous characters scattered into the landscape of the town instead of a few depressing characters weighed down by the blood debts of the Civil War. In one scene, I believe I even heard Marshal Canfield whistling to the tune of the soundtrack, which made me smile.
So immediately The Showdown had my attention. It hit two of my main buttons for movies — humor and music. Not to say that the movie is a comedy, but Jim Conover (who wrote, directed, and helped produce the film) knew enough to balance the serious with the lighthearted.
Marshal Canfield (Bob Handegan) spent years looking for his ex-wife who took his young son and left him in Tennessee. Eventually he tracked them to Texas, but was never able to find them. Instead, he settled into acting as the law in Sand Prairie.
Like most towns in westerns, Sand Prairie has a saloon where you can find carousing cowboys and dancing girls. Among them is Dixie Johnson (Ann Hagemann), a beautiful, self-assured blond. She holds her own until Asa Brown (William Homel) assaults her one night and Canfield saves her. After that, a battle begins between Canfield and Brown that includes abduction, destruction, and near death for Canfield and others.