HomeEntertainmentJohnny Cash Once Dueled Screen Legend Kirk Douglas in This Western

Johnny Cash Once Dueled Screen Legend Kirk Douglas in This Western

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Legendary singer Johnny Cash once visited the big screen to gunfight against the popular actor, Kirk Douglas.

The two starred together in “A Gunfight.” This was a Western film released in 1971 by Lamont Johnson. Notably, it was financed by Jicarilla Apache Tribe, but there are no Native American characters present in the story.

Johnny Cash was in a few movies during his career. “A Gunfight” is an entirely different type of movie, however.

Later on the film “Walk The Line” was made in 2005. It tells the story of his life. Joaquin Phoenix plays Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon plays June Carter Cash.

‘A Gunfight’ Movie

In the film, Cash plays a man named Abe Cross. Kirk Douglas plays Will Tenneray. Both of the men are struggling gunfighters looking to make money. Despite both being desperate and the town expecting a fight when Cross arrives in town, the two take an instant liking to each other.

Cross and Tenneray decide to stage a fight to the death in an arena and sell tickets. Whoever wins will walk away with the money. At this point, the two had become best friends. Despite this, one of them kills the other in a less dramatic gunfight.

Kirk Douglas was known for films like “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” “Champion,” “Ace in the Hole,” “The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Act of Love,” “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Lonely Are the Brave,” and “Seven Days in May.”

Also in 1971, Johnny Cash released his album “Man in Black.” The album was a politically-focused collection of songs referencing the times, specifically the Vietnam War. It was his 38th overall album. He was also the host of “The Johnny Cash Show” and was starting to add to his collection of Grammys and CMA Awards.

Both men were well-recognizable names, although very different.

Off-Screen Relationship Douglas and Cash

The two made quite the pair onscreen for the film “A Gunfight.” Off-screen, both Douglas and Cash had mutual respect for one another.

According to Classic Country Music, the two had been on “The Johnny Cash Show” together on February 4, 1970. The show ended with Cash singing “I Walk The Line” while Douglas was able to repeat all the lines back to him.

Douglas actually passed away on February 5, 2020, which was 50 years plus a day after his appearance with Cash on the show. He was 103 when he died. The two had remained friends over the years. Douglas even sent a letter to Cash after June Carter Cash passed away in 2003.

The letter reads partially, “You have given so much to the world and the world shares your grief. I hope we can get together again and I will sing to you ‘A Boy named Sue.'”

“In ‘A Gunfight’ I picked Johnny Cash. I watched him on TV and I think he has a wonderful quality and I never met him before, I just picked up the phone and talked to him. We had about four or five conversations on the phone and he was very apprehensive about doing a movie … I think he does a terrific job,” Douglas said on “The Dick Cavett Show.”

Despite not having a lot of acting experience, Cash was hand-selected by one of the most influential actors of the time.