Movie Career Page


Copyright 2016 Robert Fuller Official Website

Movie Career Page


Movie Career Page


Premiere: June 1972             

Director: Robert Gordon         

Screenplay: Mark Hanna, Joseph Van Winkle

D.O.P.: Jacques Marquette

Musical Score: Paul Sawtelle and Bert Shefter

Run time: 93 minutes


Guy Stockwell (Lt. Malcolm Wade)

Robert Fuller (Pvt. Sneed)

BarBara Luna (Leona)

Woody Strode (Runner)

Patrick Wayne (Jim Boland)

Pat Buttram (Tin Pot)

John Carradine (“The Reverend” Harper)

Carlos Rivas (Two-Knife)

Judy Jordan (Martha Boland)

Phil Harris (Luke Boland)

“I loved Sneed. What a great name for a villain. He was the rottenest, the meanest – he double-crossed everybody – the Cavalry, the Indians. And I had more fun doing that part than I’ve ever had.” Robert Fuller

The end of the civil war. Cavalry troops led by Lieutenant Malcolm Wade (Guy Stockwell) track down a pacifist Reverend, his Apache stepdaughter Leona (BarBara Luna) and renegade soldier Sneed (Robert Fuller), during a futile attempt to blow up a Gatling gun. Under Apache attack after retrieving the unharmed gun, Malcolm, his scout Runner (Woody Strode) and remaining troops flee, with the Gatling and linchpin Sneed tied up in tow. By nightfall they find a fort inhabited by the Boland family – Luke, son Jim, crack-shot daughter Martha and their cook Tin Pot. When the fort is attacked by Apaches after the Gatling gun, the Reverend makes a desperate attempt to appeal to Chief Two Knife and is killed. Later the nefarious Sneed, tied up in the back, is visited by his lover Leona. An opportunist herself though for different reasons than Sneed, she teases him. Among other enticing assets, she also has nuggets of gold promised by Two-Knife when she and Sneed hand over the Gatling.

The party sets off for the garrison the next day to fulfill Malcolm’s orders from the War Department to deliver the machine gun to the army.

But the gun doesn’t work.

“So I made a bad move. What the hell.” Pvt. Sneed

The morning after yet another Apache attack on their encampment, Tin Pot realizes the master firing pin is missing. Tied to the wagon, Sneed cuddles up to his corporal guard and unsuccessfully attempts to bribe him. Thinking Sneed has the firing pin, Malcolm orders him searched but finds Two-Knife’s gold instead.

While inventive Tin Pot uses a railway spike to jerry-rig a firing pin, a Spanish-speaking Apache Brave approaches the party with a white flag and a message: they want the King Gun. Malcolm warns the Brave that many more Indians will die if he’s forced to use the gun, that the Apache dishonoured themselves by burning his soldier. The Brave responds with contempt to “White Eyes” and as he retreats, Malcom realizes he is Chief Two-Knife. According to his army’s rules, Malcolm declares he has the right to kill Two-Knife, but decides to let him go. Which doesn’t sit well with the Chief. Two-Knife likewise spares Malcolm’s life but ominously warns Sneed. “Except for that one. He will die no matter.”

As Tin Pot toils at getting the Gatling operational, Leona once again heads for Sneed and unties him. Sneed is convinced she has the firing pin but is quickly distracted by his physical needs. In mid-seduction, Leona stabs him. He overpowers her, knocks her unconscious and escapes. Malcolm predicts traitorous Sneed will reveal to Two-Knife the Gatling is broken and they will all be through. Tracked by an Apache scout, the band of seven continue trudging on foot, finally setting up the Gatling on high terrain shelter.

Captured by the Apaches, Sneed is dragged between two horses and dumped cowering at Two-Knife’s feet. Unbound and finally unhinged, Sneed begs for his life and impudently, more gold. The Gatling doesn’t work. The Cavalry is impotent.  

On a scouting mission, Runner and Luke Boland come across the site of a massacre of soldiers and find the Apaches vigilant nearby. Tin Pot fits the makeshift pin and gets the Gatling working. Leona offers her help but Malcolm is rightly suspicious of her loyalties. When the Apaches charge, Tin Pot grinds the Gatling into action, decimating the wave until the remainder retreat. When the firing pin breaks, Malcolm plots a showy, pre-emptive strike rather than wait to die – seven armed with bean-can explosives against the Apaches, who now know the Gatling is deadly.   

In darkness, Sneed is nothing if not incessant. He shakes loose from his tree during the chaos, grabs a rifle and tries to kill Two-Knife. In a chillingly satirical moment, Sneed’s rifle misfires. He is expertly dispatched by another perfectly ironic shot – an arrow to the heart.

Back at their camp, Leona tries to convince young Jim Boland to run away with her to Two-Knife and save themselves. As she takes off, an Apache Brave fires and kills Jim. An enraged Martha Boland tackles Leona on a hillside. While they are fighting, Two-Knife instructs his warrior to kill the “Americana” who instead shoots and kills Leona. As she tumbles down the hill, the Gatling’s firing pin flies out from beneath her.

Martha retrieves the missing pin and Tin Pot happily inserts it into the King Gun.

The unsuspecting Apaches charge at full-gallop – the force and reckoning of the white man’s fury is unleashed. Armed with tomahawks, spears, rifles and bows, they are no match for the relentless fire. Unlike the massacre of the Calvary soldiers briefly seen in aftermath, the Apache massacre, and four minutes of horrendous devastation, is depicted in slow motion, from every imaginable angle. Malcolm himself admits, “They didn’t have a chance against this gun.”

When the dust finally settles, a shocked and despondent Chief Two-Knife approaches Malcolm, takes off his trophy Cavalry jacket, throws down his rifle. And silently walks away.


A Gun for All Seasons

“Private Sneed cleansed himself before God and man when he helped me do away with that instrument of hell. If you must punish someone, punish me.” John Carradine, The Reverend

Evidently father of the King Gun, physician Richard J. Gatling, suffered from a case of inventor’s remorse. In a letter to a friend in 1877, Gatling describes himself as more of an efficiency expert, however benevolent his motives. He felt the rapid-fire gun would reduce battle times and the need for large armies, thus diminishing battlefield deaths from sweeping disease and exposure.  At the height of its dubious power then, the first hand-cranked “machine gun” was capable of firing up to 1200 rounds a minute in every terrain and was used by militaries and governments all over the world. A helicopter-mount version capable of firing roughly 6000 rounds a minute, was eventually used by the US army in the Indochina wars.

Must have been a pick-up shot…

For audiences used to heroics from their beloved star of Laramie and Wagon Train, it’s pure primal glee watching Robert Fuller annihilate his good-guy image…with a machine gun. In addition to the jaw-dropping stunt in which sniveling Sneed is dragged between two trotting horses, Robert executed his own execution - dying of complications from an arrow to the chest. However, at the beginning of the movie, a benign shot of Sneed and his fellow soldier running the Gatling into a mine shaft oddly features Robert’s stunt double. After Sneed ignites the dynamite, it is once again Robert Fuller himself fleeing the mine, and the huge explosion behind him.

Gatling Gun AKA King Gun, was shot in 1969 on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Review by Belinda New 15th Nov 2016