"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Robbers’ Roost (UA, 1955)


Good bad guys



 
 
 
Robbers’ Roost was a color remake of a 1932 talkie starring George O’Brien, both movies based on the Zane Grey novel serialized in Collier's, October-December 1930. The 1950s version, the only movie of Goldstein-Jacks Productions, and released through United Artists, starred George Montgomery, who was OK in Westerns, in my view, but not much more, and Sylvia Findley in her only Western – I know little about her.

The good news is the bad guys. You see rancher Bull Herrick (Bruce Bennett) is confined to a wheelchair after an accident, and to protect his herd from prevalent rustlers, he comes up with the wheeze of hiring the two main rustling gangs as cowboys. They will, he thinks, keep each other from raiding the herd. Cunning, huh.
 
 
The gangs are led by a young Richard Boone, 38, and a younger Peter Graves, 29. Graves, in his fourth Western of a huge number he would go on to do, usually as a good guy, does a fair job as one of the badmen (he had also been a swine in War Paint two years before) and is certainly energetic but Boone is, as always, absolutely excellent as the smiling villain. And as if Boone wasn’t enough to enjoy, he has Leo Gordon as one of his henchmen. Boone and Gordon were to be fellow baddies again the same year, in Ten Wanted Men.

The rancher has a glam sister, Helen, after whom all the robbers lust.
 
Montgomery, Findley, Graves, Boone
 
Now arrives on the scene a mysterious stranger (Montgomery), good with his guns (he's called Tex so naturally he has two), and joins Boone’s gang. Helen is drawn to him despite herself.

Well, Boone tricks Graves, rustles the herd and hides out in Robbers’ Roost. You know, the Elzy Lay/Butch Cassidy hideout in Utah (no Butch or Sundance in this story though). The movie was actually filmed in Durango but it’s very attractive and very Western cañon country and will do nicely for Utah. There’s an especially good Mexican Hat-type rock where they keep watch.

There’s a climactic fight between the two rustler gangs, a sheriff’s posse and George Montgomery with mucho shooting. All good stuff.
 
They seem to be enjoying it
 
It was directed and co-written by Sidney Salkow, who had done Sitting Bull with Dale Robertson the year before. Salkow was a B-Western maestro and later also did a lot of TV shows, especially episodes of Wells Fargo and Wyatt Earp. No one would accuse him of being a great artist but at rootin', tootin' and shootin' he was just dandy.

All in all, e-pards, you won’t pine away to nothing if you don’t ever manage to see this Western. But if it’s on TV one wet afternoon, well, Boone and Gordon, two of my all-time-great badmen, can’t be bad. It's a lot of fun.

Nice canyon country
 

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