My Life As An Independent Film Producer
by Sidney Pink
Now that I had my director, casting became much easier. MADIGAN proved to be the most difficult, so we concentrated on THE BANG-BANG KID. The script called for two leading men, both of whom were vital to the plot line. The story took a new and fresh approach to the traditional Western. Howard Berk had written a love story based loosely on THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. The action takes place during the late 1800s in Limerick, a small Montana town where a silver mine offers the only employment available in that part of the state. The owner of the mine and everything else in the town is a young cowboy-turned-entrepreneur by the name of Bear Bullock, who is desperately in love with Gwenda, the blond daughter of the mayor of Limerick. Like the shrew, Gwenda perversely repulses his advances, and the more he offers, the more shrewish she becomes.
Desperate to impress her, he buys a castle in Austria and has it transported block by block to be reconstructed in Limerick. His hopes are dashed by her complete and utter disdain for this magnificent flourish, and Bear Bullock becomes mean. He decides to repay her by enslaving the townsfolk, so he hires the fastest gunman in the West, Killer Kissick, to accomplish his purpose. The town exists in a veritable state of siege, with Kissick threatening the inhabitants on a daily basis. Mineworkers' wages are cut to bare subsistence level, and Bullock lets it be known he will change it all if Gwenda accepts his marriage proposal. She adamantly refuses despite the pleas of the townspeople (including her father), so things keep getting worse in the town of Limerick.
In total frustration, the mayor and the town merchants advertise far and wide for a gunfighter to come to Limerick and rid them of the scourge of Killer Kissick. The reward of $2,500, an almost staggering sum for that era, attracts many candidates, but all fall to the fast guns of Kissick. Just when everything looks darkest, a mild-mannered roly-poly man arrives in Limerick to accept the job. He is laughed at until he opens his steamer trunk, and out comes a robot that is the absolute mirror image of his creator. The robot, named The Bang-Bang Kid, is indeed the fastest gun in the West, but it has one flaw - it doesn't work all the time. This was the basic plot of a very well-written script that should have been a one-of-a-kind movie.
Stanley and Paul agreed on the one actor they were certain would be perfect for the part of the bumbling inventor of the robot, Tom Bosley. This fine actor and musical comedy star won Broadway's highest honors for his magnificent portrayal of Fiorello La Guardia in the musical play FIORELLO. It was not a good time for Tom, and he was not working as much as he should have been. If I were back in the business today, class people like Tom would be in every damned thing I would produce. He was professionalism at its best, and what a joy to work with!
When I saw Tom for the first time, I knew he was the personification of Howard Berk's vision of that role. We signed him fast and at a fee I was surprised he would accept. THE BANG-BANG KID was to be shot in August. We still had the troublesome MADIGAN to cast, and it was slated to begin in April.