Retro review: The King and Four Queens - a fine Spaghetti Western

David Parkinson 

The only film produced by Clark Gable's Gabco outfit is a whimsical Western, whose slow-burning battle of wits ends with a bit of a bang.

Drifting into the no-horse town of Wagon Mound, Gable's chancer discovers that gun-toting matriarch Jo Van Fleet and her four widowed daughters-in-law are sitting on a stash of stolen gold. However, he needs to play his cards carefully to get his hands on the loot without saddling himself with a bride.

Thankfully, time has not been kind to the storyline's playful chauvinism. But Van Fleet and Eleanor Parker, as the least flirtatious of the entombed quartet, give Gable a run for his money. Moreover, even though the action is somewhat languorous in places, director Raoul Walsh keeps the suspense simmering and makes such evocative use of Lucian Ballard's CinemaScope vistas that this has the feel of a Spaghetti Western, right down to its cynical ending.
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