The Shakiest Gun in the West

The Shakiest Gun in the West

Dr. Jessie W Haywood is a hapless, helpless dentist in this 1968 old western, comedy-action movie, starring Don Knotts. Haywood graduates from dentist school in Philadelphia and makes the decision that his calling is to “fight oral ignorance” by opening his own practice out west. Against the wishes of his mother and her best friend, he boards the train to pursue his dreams and leaves his mother behind. The stagecoach is robbed in the first leg of the trip and unbeknownst to Haywood, he has first encounter with the woman who would soon become his wife. Enter the rough and tough Penelope Cushing (Barbara Rhodes), otherwise known as “Bad Penny”.

Stagecoach-robber Penny is caught and offered a pardon if she will help the marshals catch some gun smugglers. Unfortunately, single women are not allowed to be part of the wagon train so she sets her sights on the unsuspecting Doc Haywood. Within hours, they are married and part of the wagon train headed west. Fortunately for Haywood, Penny is a crack-shot and rescues the still unsuspecting Haywood over and over…and over again. Unbeknownst to Haywood, Penny is the one actually making the kills, including killing the bad guy, Arnold the Kid. Haywood mistakenly gains a reputation and the nickname of Doc the Haywood, the great gunslinger.

The scenery isn’t great, nor are there any special effects to speak of in this film, however, The Shakiest Gun in the West is a light-hearted fare that had me laughing. Don Knotts is at his comedic best in the portrayal of the shaky Doc Haywood. Knotts starred in several low-key action movies, including: The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Reluctant Astronaut. Another great feature of the movie is that it stars a number of recognizable actors such as Dub Taylor (Back to the Future, Maverick); Pat Morita (Karate Kid); Carl Ballentine (McHale’s Navy); Jackie Coogan (Addams Family) and Don (Red) Barry (Little House on the Prairie).

Over all while the Shakiest Gun in the West may not be the newest movie on the block, it’s definitely a refreshing treat from the very adult movies that grace the present day movie theaters.

I give this movie a 3 out of 5 stars.


Rating: Unrated – This means that except for a few funny love scenes and Knotts dropping a dentist mirror down Rhode’s low cut dress, there is very little that is objectionable about this movie.

Director: Alan Rafkin

Run time: 101 minutes

I watched this movie on cable television. I have not been compensated for writing this review. The movie is available on Amazon.

The Shakiest Gun in the West

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