On This Day In 1971: Johnny Cash & Kirk Douglas’ “A Gunfight” Debuts In Theaters

On This Day In 1971: Johnny Cash & Kirk Douglas’ “A Gunfight” Debuts In Theaters | Classic Country Music | Legendary Stories and Songs Videos

The Duke Mitchell Film Club / YouTube

By the time the 1971 film A Gunfight was released in theaters, Kirk Douglas and Johnny Cash were both household names.

Douglas was known for his acting in films such as The Strange Love of Martha IversChampionAce in the HoleThe Bad and the BeautifulAct of Love20,000 Leagues Under the SeaThe Indian FighterLust for LifePaths of GlorySpartacusLonely Are the Brave, and Seven Days in May. He made his film debut all the way back in 1946.

Of course, Cash was also a legend in his own right. He was host of his own television show, The Johnny Cash Show, had already released 23 albums including his highly successful live albums recorded at Folsom Prison and San Quentin, had five Grammys, six CMA Awards, and countless other accolades.

These two men had so much in common with the rise of their careers, yet couldn’t be more different.

Yet, they co-starred in the 1971 movie A Gunfight together. Screenwriter Harold Bloom sent the script to Douglas, who immediately loved it and signed on to star and co-produce. They needed another leading man and Douglas personally sought out Cash to play the role of gunfighter Abe Cross.

Douglas played fellow gunfighter Will Tenneray. The two characters are two famous gunfighters who are in need of money, Though they have no ill-will towards each other, and actually consider each other a friend, they arrange a duel to the death in a bull fighting arena, where the ticket proceeds going to the winner.

Cash’s character ultimately shoots Douglas’s character. A fantasy scene following the gunfight shows what would have happened should Douglas’s character won. Check out a scene from the movie below.

The two remained friendly throughout the years, and Douglas even sent Cash a touching letter after his beloved wife June Carter Cash passed away in May 2003. John Rich of country duo Big & Rich has the letter hanging in his office.

See the full trailer below.

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