Shaughnessy: The Iron Marshal
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Why do made for TV movies pale in comparison to anything that seems to be shown in a theater. I'm not saying that all movies on TV are worse than EVERYTHING that good old Hollywood churns out, but why is it two minutes into any film I can tell if it was made for TV. This question and observation ran through my head 2 minutes into the movie SHAUGHNESSY.
I will admit that I have never been a Louis L' Armour fan. His stories always seemed too wholesome and touching. At times even boring. No, I'm more of a Max Brand fan. The John Woo of the westerns. So without reading the book then here I am with a clean slate. The "iron sheriff" huh? Sounds pretty tough to me. Sadly, the movie is anything but tough.
Boxer Tommy Shaughnessy (Matthew Settle) is a 12 and 1 underground prize fighter in 19th century New York. He's asked to throw a fight, which he doesn't do, making the book keeper quite angry. Ole' Tommy gets shot and gets thrown onto a train to get out of town safely. He soon arrives in Kansas where he gets the bullet taken out, and runs into a dying man Rip Bartlett (Bo Hopkins). Rip knows he's going to die soon, so he gives Tommy his prized rifle and a letter stating that he volunteered to give Tommy everything. Off Tommy goes into Rip's small town as instructed to give his things to a man named Carpenter. Soon the towns folk think that he killed old Rip, then they find out that he didn't.
Tommy tells them that he is here to help them fight what is coming. For that he becomes the new town sheriff. Well, this should be interesting I thought. Nope, nothing is coming. Soon some towns folk are wanting Tommy dead. Instead they kill someone else. Then a twist happens that is never explained and Tommy is ran out of town. Wait! What's this? They like Tommy again, and there is a huge mystery going on in town. Oh....so it's not much of a mystery and is actually unbearably pointless and unclimatic.
At the start of the film it looked to be a no brainer, happy go lucky little western. One without depth, but showed some heart. Some of the characters had charm, like Shaughnessy and crusty old Marshall (Tom Bower), and who could say anything about Linda Kozlowski's Marla, leader of the whores. She is still in my mind. Damn.
Sadly, it ended up being a pointless stroll through a made for TV graveyard. SHAUGHNESSY even comes equipped with an open ended finale that resolves nothing except little caring. Who was the blond at the top of the stairs? I guess we'll never know. See, this film was a pilot for a potential show which never was picked up. I can honestly see why too. If this had a more complete story and mystery going for it then who knows. It could have worked great next to Dr. Quinn:Medicine Woman. Instead this ends up being an open ended movie that explains little, leaves too much open, and wraps everything up incompletely. Since it is a made for TV movie (and I hate to say I am right about this on many) the direction is bad, shows no emotion or drama, and the fight scenes are everything but exciting.
Simply put if you are a fan of the channel PAX then you might find some charm in this, because even the whores seem wholesome. However do not watch this if you are a fan of mysteries or plot. With no show to follow this, then there is really no reason to buy this or even rent this. While at times showed glimpses of being entertaining, it is pointless to even watch with so many things unanswered and even the things that were answered were not answered well. If this had a better story, or at the least a coherent one, this could have been enjoyable. At least we have Marla's cleavage. I'll give one can to each.
Added: Monday, July 10, 2006
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