Written by / 6/09/2016 / No comments / , , , ,

SCOTT BRADY JAZZES WILD WEST TV ON SHOTGUN SLADE

Year: 1950 Show Title: SHOTGUN SLADE Starring: Scott Brady
Having been visiting several obscure TV Westerns, including one that's a personal treat for yours truly, called TATE (write-up coming soon); SHOTGUN SLADE starring Scott Brady as the title character, whose real name isn't Shotgun but he sure uses them well, really stands out. Is he a Gun for Hire? A Cowboy with a Vengeance? A Bounty Hunter? A Sheriff? An Outlaw with a heart of gold? A Rogue Gambler?

None of the Above, actually... Slade is a Detective... rare in this genre... and a narrating one at that: making this more Gumshoe than Horseshoe. And to note, Scott Brady's born name is Tierney. He's the younger, equally tough though much more conventional, mainstream and "pretty" than his rowdy, anvil-faced brother Lawrence Tierney, who, in his heyday during the 1940's, was cast as a sort of menacing monstrosity in Film Noir projects like BORN TO KILL, in which he was a proverbial snake in an otherwise classy, backstabbing Eden, ready to strike anyone and anything, and was far more effective as DILLINGER in a b-movie biopic loosely based on truth and, in a dime-novel fashion, covers the country-hopping crime spree of bank stickup jobs with non-stop action...

Brady's eyes dart back and forth in the opening of SHOTGUN SLADE
But Lawrence didn't own the Noir template alone... For Brady, SHOTGUN SLADE followed an eclectic movie career that started out in gritty crime gems like HE WALKED BY NIGHT, playing one of two hard-edged cops in search of sadistic killer Richard Basehart, and headlined CANON CITY, playing a reluctant, ambiguous prisoner to a group of mostly hardened old-timers with a "surefire" plan to breakout, making him not only the smartest of the bunch, but someone to root for and actually care about.

Having done genres ranging from Noir to Adventure to even Musicals and perhaps his most remembered role as "Dancin' Kid" in the cult Western JOHNNY GUITAR starring Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden, Brady's tough guy persona, on the verge of "reigning in hell" with drive-in exploitation vehicles that would inhabit the 1960's, such as SATAN'S SADISTS, FIVE BLOODY GRAVES and THE FAKERS aka HELL'S BLOODY DEVILS, the series SHOTGUN SLADE, wedged between the counter-culture crossroads of 1959, fits the handsome square-jawed mug like a glove, but a glove that takes some getting used to. What fits is Scott's devilish grin, smooth charm and athletic prowess that makes all the fist-fight scenes, shown in a wide shot when TV scraps felt like being second row in a boxing match as opposed to edited precisely for each jab... Oh and speaking of... Brady boxed in the wartime Navy, before joining his brother (not literally, the two didn't get along too well) in Hollywood, and his first job at bat was the obscure programmer IN THIS CORNER about, of course, a boxer, so his fights on SLADE seemed to need little choreography, providing the natural slugger a saloon or countryside to physically take down the bad guys, mostly three, four at a time...

Being SHOTGUN, literally OVERALL SHOW RATING: ***1/2
What doesn't fit winds up pretty much stealing – and completely distinguishing it from other Westerns... That is, the bubbly gameshow jazz, as if someone just won a "Brand New Car," or Lawrence Welk got ripped on Benzedrine; the beatnik, be-bop horns romping through the gritty West in an almost satirical fashion, often playing whimsical variations of tip-of-the-tongue standard tracks (Midnight Special, for example), clashing with the sparse rural locales of small towns, roaring trains and canyon-walls where outlaws plan and hide.

And yet, after half of the first episode... where Slade thwarts a bank robbery, protects a pretty girl and takes down the bad guys who, either tricky-smart or thug-dumb and dangerous, live for shortcuts... the bizarre, incessant jazz actually keeps the pace moving. It's like the show itself is dizzy with perpetual caffeine as the action and "espionage" follow suit: And yet with the pros and cons of a series that had up to 80 episodes (according to Scott's son, Tim Tierney, head of his dad's facebook fan group), there's only a handful available: 12 total, four on three discs that were purchased on Amazon – while not without grain and some sound problems, it's worth the purchase, just to take time to experience Scott Brady as SHOTGUN SLADE!  
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