After the high-quality Man from Colorado and Lust for Gold at the end of the 1940s, Glenn Ford turned in two B westerns, The Redhead and the Cowboy (Paramount, 1951) & The Secret of Convict Lake (Fox, 1951). One would have thought that he had built a platform with his earlier good work to go on to make some really good oaters at the start of the 1950s. It was the time of Winchester '73 and Broken Arrow, after all, and other top-notch Westerns. But for Glenn, those came later, in the mid- and late-50s.
In this rather slight 82-minute horse opera, Glenn Ford’s sixth, he slipped back a bit into the light B picture mode of before the War. After having done serious drama, he now appeared (free of his Columbia contract, for Paramount) in a rather silly Civil War spy tale directed by Leslie Fenton, who only did four Westerns, although to be fair they did include Whispering Smith and Streets of Laredo.
It’s a black & white picture so you’ll have to take the redhead part on trust. Glenn plays the cowboy and Rhonda the redhead, in case you’re wondering.
In the Charles Marquis Warren story, Gil Kyle (Ford) is falsely accused of murder and his only alibi is a glamorous Confederate spy, Candace Bronson (Rhonda Fleming, such a beautiful woman and a fine actress). So he has to chase her down to prove his innocence. She thinks he might be a spy too. There are mucho plot complications as they run into desperadoes, Union agents (Ray Teal is one) and guerrilla fighters, many far from scrupulous.
Edmond O’Brien and Iron Eyes Cody are in it and it has its moments but all in all this movie and The Secret of Convict Lake the same year were steps backward in Glenn Ford’s Western career. Not that he was bad in them. He was always very good. But they weren’t the quality pictures he deserved.