Hayden plays Clay Hardin, a lawman with a wild past who is determined to track down the man who murdered his boss, Marshal Fletcher (Lane Chandler). As Clay searches, he meets up with Abby (DeCarlo), a saloon girl, and Reb Carlton (Scott), a bounty hunter.
Clay and Reb form a wary alliance, periodically brawling or threatening to shoot one another, but backing each other up when it matters most. Clay and Abby also start out at odds but slowly develop an affection for one another.
(Speaking of something unusual for a mid-'50s Western, the poster art is also rather...eyebrow-raising.)
The screenplay, in fact, was cowritten by frequent Western actor Rory Calhoun, teamed with Clarke Reynolds. This was Calhoun's only script; he is also said to have been the uncredited writer of the story for his own film DOMINO KID (1957). Calhoun wasn't the only Western actor to double as a screenwriter in the '50s; Western regulars Michael Pate and Leo Gordon also worked as writers.
Calhoun, incidentally, gave DeCarlo away at the wedding ceremony when she married stuntman Bob Morgan the same year SHOTGUN was released.
DeCarlo doesn't get to exhibit much of the humor which is one of her strong points, but she's good as a tough, occasionally wild woman struggling to survive on the frontier. Hayden is also very good as the implacable lawman who refuses to be dissuaded from his mission, and the charismatic Scott enlivens the proceedings considerably whenever he's on screen. No one did slimy sarcasm better than Zachary Scott!
The vast majority of the movie was shot outdoors on location, and it's perhaps worth noting that the actors are all rather filthy in this film, with stained, soiled clothes; it's much more realistic in that regard than many Westerns. (If only DeCarlo weren't saddled with such an unattractive, short hairstyle, which unnecessarily ages her beyond her 32 years.) The following year the Richard Widmark Western THE LAST WAGON (1956) was also filmed in Sedona.
SHOTGUN was directed by Lesley Selander. The supporting cast incudes Robert J. Wilke, Angela Greene, and Guy Prescott. It runs 80 minutes.
SHOTGUN is available on DVD in the six-film set Darn Good Westerns, Vol. 2. As I write, Amazon has such a low price that this set is a steal, at just a couple dollars per movie. Paul Mavis reviewed the set at DVD Talk in 2009.
Unfortunately the DVD has gone into the no man's land of the "saved" section at Netflix, so unless their recent practice changes, don't expect it to be available there again in the future.
October 24th Update: Welcome to visitors from 50 Westerns from the 50s, and thanks to Toby for the link!