Corman and Jim/Sam Rising: Five Guns West (1955)
A Dirty Dozen's later mission needed twelve, but neophyte director Roger Corman made do with five, and on a nine day schedule. Legendarily made for peanuts, but competently so, Five Guns West entertains for a game cast and interest sustained despite virtually no action and yards of talk. Better stories were told by shooting participants in Corman bios to come, this being occasion where all should have kept diaries. Five Guns West was the second pic from "American Releasing Corporation," (after The Fast and The Furious) better to-be known as American-International, and was distributed territory by territory by Corman, with Jim and Sam, trolling for state's rights sales (did they sleep in bus terminals or squeezed together in a bunk like the Three Stooges? --- cash was tight, after all). Energy is what it took to sell product on one-by-one basis, relationships made with showmen on this trip that would stand good for AIP over years to come. Sitting across a desk, or dining table, was a best way to cement ties in days when budget producer/distributors called customers by first name and had standing invite to split a bottle in booth/offices whenever they were in town.
Budget filmmakers needed youth and can-do spirit, no one in fuller possession of same than starting-out Roger. He's said to have paid Five Gun's writer $250, plus change for acting one of the parts scribed. Others were new to the game, and eager, thus Touch Connors (a football-playing nickname) got for $200. Name participants were John Lund and Dorothy Malone, both slumming and I'd guess aware of it, but paychecks were welcome, and never mind the source. In support Paul Birch is excellent. Maybe actors for Corman thrived because he left them alone, as in, by most accounts, completely alone. Five Gun participants labor under threat of indian attack, its realization a matter of one leaping redskin and borrowed footage of others. Cheating on ad-art promise was such a given then as to make complaint seem churlish. Weren't theatres just year-round fairgrounds after all? Roger Corman wrote later that Five Guns West was shot on a $60,000 budget; what came back to ARC in domestic rentals was $407K, fine momentum for a young company getting on its legs. Corman and AIP would go from Five Guns West to decades of further bally that misled, doing so heroically and to eternal gratitude from ones of us who took the paying journey with them.