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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Lone Ranger (Warner Bros, 1956)


The Lone Ranger and Tonto ride across the big screen




 
 
The Lone Ranger rode across the West and into our hearts not only on radio, on TV and in comic books. He and Tonto also galloped through an ABC pilot movie in 1949, Enter the Lone Ranger, and no fewer than six other films. Thus, I and the myriad Lone Ranger fans all over the planet, and probably the universe as far as I know, were able to cheer to the clarion call of those Rossini trumpets and return to the thrilling days of yesteryear on the big screen as, the sterling voice of Fred Foy told us, the Lone Ranger rode again.

And in 1956 (when I was eight), he did it in color! There are certain highlights in the memories of all of us, aren’t there, unforgettable moments that serve as milestones on our path through life. Your first day at school, your first date, perhaps the birth of a child, seeing The Lone Ranger in color. Of course the last series of the TV show (1958 – 59) was in color too but to see that you needed a color TV, which we did not have.
 
Color!
 
The main advantage of color was that you could see that Silver was white.

You could also see that that the ghastly suit Clayton wore was a rather twee powder blue. Oh well.

Anyway, once you got over the shock of color you could get down to appreciating the gripping action of the movie. The first thing to say is that wicked Butch Cavendish does not make an appearance. That is very sad. We were all hoping that he might have escaped from jail and was plotting anew. Glenn Strange the Great had been Butch in eight TV episodes and the TV pilot film, so we missed him.

However, there was supremely good news to compensate, for the arch-baddy was smiling Lyle Bettger (as Reece Kilgore, the excellently named big rancher – kill/gore) and his really nasty chief thug, Casssidy, was none other than arch-henchman Robert J Wilke.
 
Rancher Lyle and henchman Bob
 
Now, as a smarmy, smiling villain no one could equal Lyle (Dan Duryea, maybe, but hardly anyone) and as boss heavy, Bob Wilke was almost without equal (Leo Gordon was a worthy rival, though). Together, Lyle and Bob were invincible. And at the end, well, I don’t want to spoil the suspense for you but at the end they fall out and go for each other! Who will win? I shan’t say. You will be in an agony of expectation until you watch the movie.

The idea is that rich rancher Kilgore is looking covetously at a mountain on the nearby Indian reservation, a mountain that he (but no one else) knows to be almost pure silver. He has to incite anti-Indian fever (not very difficult) to get the redskins moved despite a pro-Indian agent and a legally ratified peace treaty. Then he will be rich, rich!
 
Classic shot
 
So he has his henchmen dress up as Indians and commit depredations. The local whites are whipped up into a frenzy of hatred. It is, as you know, conventional in Westerns (and no genre follows conventions more closely, except perhaps Japanese Noh plays and D’Oyly Carte Gilbert and Sullivan operettas) for there to be a sage, statesmanlike elder Indian chief and an angry hothead younger brave who wants war with the white eyes. So we have old Red Hawk (Frank DeKova, often an Indian chief) and firebrand Angry Horse (Michael Ansara, ditto). The Lone Ranger and (a possibly conflicted) Tonto have to convince the Indians that Red Hawk is the guy to follow and all hatchets are to be buried forthwith. The masked man does this by engaging Mr. Horse in hand-to-hand combat and showing him up for the weakling he is.
 
The masked man gets down and dirty
 
There’s loads of action and adventure. Tonto gets beaten up and almost lynched before being rescued in extremis by the Lone Ranger and Silver. The masked man is shot and wounded. Of course the Lone Ranger dresses up as the old-timer to find out secrets (the only time we see him without his mask).
 
That old prospector
 
There’s an explosive climax with mucho dynamite thrown. Bob Wilke empties his pistol then throws it down crossly, you know how they do. There’s murder and skullduggery.

Kilgore has a posh Eastern wife who doesn’t cotton to the wild ways of the West. She wants her young daughter Lila to grow up a lady but Lyle is determined to pretend the little girl is a boy and to bring the child up as a tough Westerner and his heir.
 
Smiling villain with son
 
Any psychiatrist will tell you that’s not a good idea, Mr. Kilgore. The wife is played by Bonita Granville. Ms. Granville was the wife of Lone Ranger producer Jack Wrather. She also had a small part in the 1981 Lone Ranger movie.
 
Bonita
 
The rendezvous for the ranchers and townsmen, prior to setting off to do a bit of Indian-slaughtering, is the site of the Pilgrim Crossing massacre, 1854. This is perhaps the film’s version of the Grattan massacre, and we are in Wyoming. Red Cloud has become Red Hawk.
 
Macabre place to rendezvous
 
There’s a gripping finale with the US Cavalry and deputy US marshal arriving at the last minute,
 
I'd swear the uncredited cavalry Lt. is a young George Kennedy
 
and the proper ending when Bonita asks, ”Who was that masked man?” But already the Lone Ranger and Tonto have climbed aboard their respective mounts and are off to do good elsewhere.

A perfectly splendid film with all the right ingredients.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Stranger Wore a Gun (Columbia, 1953)










Yes, well, they can't all be great




 
 
The Stranger Wore a Gun is a Scott-Brown production for Columbia and a priori a cut above some of the Westerns Randolph Scott did. It was directed by André de Toth, too. But it is far from his best effort.

De Toth was born in Austria-Hungary. His name was Sasvári Farkasfalvi Tóthfalusi Tóth Endre Antal Mihály, though ‘André De Toth’ was perhaps slightly more Hollywood-friendly. He fled to England before World War II where he worked with Alexander Korda. He emigrated to the US in 1942 and directed his first film there in 1944. He did a lot of hard-boiled crime pictures and did not scruple to show violent scenes. In 1953, when 3D was all the rage, he made what many regard to be the best ever 3D film, the Vincent Price horror flick House of Wax. This was odd in a way as he only had one eye and could not appreciate 3D at all.
 
André De Toth
 
He loved Westerns and directed eleven Western movies, six of them with Randolph Scott. They were mixed: some, like Riding Shotgun (1954), were superb, whereas others, like The Stranger Wore a Gun, were average.
 
Forgettable
 
It’s in nice color and acceptably photographed by Lester White, who did quite a lot of B-movies and TV Westerns (especially Rin Tin Tin and The Roy Rogers Show) over the years but nothing special. The Iverson Ranch and Lone Pine locations are attractive and properly Western. The original music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff, though, is pretty corny and old-fashioned a lot of the time, especially during the horse chases, which also remind you of old 1930s programmers. For example, we have speeded-up film when horses gallop. At least they didn’t ‘ride’ those fake horses.

The story starts in the Civil War when Randy is a spy for Quantrill in Lawrence. He has wormed his way into the confidence of a family but then betrays them. James Millican is Quantrill, a bloodthirsty crook who disgusts Randy, who abandons the guerrillas and enlists in the official Confederate army instead. During the sack of Lawrence we understand that we are watching a 3D movie as a torch is thrown at the camera and then guns are fired directly at us. Later, everything imaginable is thrown at the camera, a chair, a jug, the kitchen sink. Unfortunately, most spectators, then as now, saw the movie in 2D so they must have wondered what was going on.

The scene now shifts to the Mississippi after the war, where Randy has become a gambler on a riverboat. Gambler Josie Sullivan (Claire Trevor, in her eleventh of twelve Westerns) clearly has a soft spot for him. In any case she saves him when Yankees recognize him as the spy of Lawrence. He jumps overboard and makes for Prescott, AZ, on Josie’s advice.

The rest of the movie, and the greater part, is a stage-line story as Randy inveigles his way once more into the confidence of an honest father and daughter, the Conroys (Pierre Watkin and a rather timid Joan Weldon) but this time can’t bring himself to betray them. The Conroys’ stage is frequently held up by evil town boss Jules Mourret (George Macready) and his henchmen (Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine and four others) and from here on in it’s a standard, not to say corny, plot.
 

Evil town boss Macready and Randy with fancy gun
 
Mourret has a rival, the Mexican bandit Degas, played quite extraordinarily badly by Alfonso Bedoya. He has clearly just learned his lines and says them with an inane grin on his face. Perhaps the part was supposed to be comic but if so it fails.
 
Bedoya. Painful.
 
His gang too comprises six men. Didn’t they know that they should have had seven each? Everyone knows that seven is the proper number for posses and gangs in Westerns.

Paul Maxey (the corpulent sheriff from The Road to Denver) is the very fat saloon keeper, which is good.
 
You don't get many of him to the pound
 
Yakima Canutt’s son Tap is in town too and Franklyn Farnum was on the stage. Ernest overacts with gusto, as usual. Marvin is about the best actor after Randy. Scott and Marvin have a proper quick-draw showdown. I shall leave you to intuit who wins that.
 
Lee Marvin, excellent as ever
 
It was written by Kenneth Gamet, who adapted Yankee Gold by John M Cunningham. Gamet was one of the preferred screenwriters of Randolph Scott but with the exception of Coroner’s Creek (where he adapted a superb Luke Short story) his scripts weren’t very good in my opinion, and it was quite often the writing that let Scott’s oaters down. From 1957 on, he mostly wrote Casey Jones episodes for TV and this was probably his métier. There is something about the plot of The Stranger Wore a Gun which vaguely prefigures Yojimbo and its spaghetti reincarnations, as Randy plays two gangs off, one against the other.
 
Ernie acts with gusto
 
Randy rides his fancy palomino Stardust and on one occasion shoots Lee Marvin’s hat off. Best of all, on the riverboat he uses a derringer. He did that in A Lawless Street, too, thus disproving the Arnold Derringer Hypothesis (ADH) that derringers were reserved for gamblers, ladies and city slickers. I mean, if Randolph Scott used one, well… Actually John Wayne had one too, Betsy, in Big Jake. Oh well, there goes another prejudice.

Sometimes both gangs try to rob the stage at the same time so we get an almost farcical coming and going as they end up fighting each other instead.

It all climaxes up on Raccoon Pass with a mega shoot-out when all the bad guys except Mourret are eliminated. Mourret himself has to be held back for a dramatic death in a burning saloon.

Finally Randy says he is through with guns and goes off to California with Claire. Corny or what?
 
Gambler Claire Trevor. Couldn't even remember the movie.
 
Of course Scott delivers in his usual understated but excellent style. The film is watchable – every Randolph Scott Western was – but, really and truly, weak.

André De Toth wrote (in De Toth on De Toth) :

I believe Randolph Scott could have gone further as a performer. But he did not have the ambition to step up, to be better in anything except golf.

I think this was a bit rich coming from De Toth. Perhaps if he had made a better film, Randy might have “stepped up”.

In his excellent book The Films of Randolph Scott (McFarland, 2004) Robert Nott tells a couple of good stories about the making of this movie, such as a description by Lee Marvin of a burning stage hurtling by Randy, who was calming sitting reading The Wall Street Journal. There’s also an anecdote about Ernest Borgnine:

One day on the set De Toth asked Borgnine if he could ride.
‘Can I ride? Like the wind!’ the actor replied.
Borgnine mounted a horse and with a slew of other riders, did a scene in which they had to come riding down a hill fast. According to De Toth, Scott’s double, who was riding next to Borgnine, missed his mark.
‘Once more, please,’ De Toth said.
‘Why? Didn’t I ride like the wind?’
‘You did great. Ride like the wind again.’
‘Yeah?’ Borgnine replied incredulously. ‘Well, I have no idea what I did that was great. This is the first time in my life that I was on a damned horse.’

Years later, Joan Weldon met Claire Trevor at a party. Trevor didn’t recognize Weldon. When Weldon reminded her that they had done a film together, The Stranger Wore a Gun, Trevor said, “Remember you? I don’t even remember the film.”

It is a bit like that.

 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Enter The Lone Ranger (ABC, 1947)


Hi yo, Silver!




 
 
As everyone in the universe knows, the Lone Ranger first appeared in 1933, broadcast on WEBR in Buffalo, then on a Detroit radio station, WXYZ. The show was written by Fran Striker, who also wrote Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and The Green Hornet (and by the way, did you know the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet were related? Well, they were). Buffalo actor John L Barrett was the first masked man, a few weeks before George Stenius (who later changed his name to George Seaton) took over. Striker went on to script various Lone Ranger novels, two movie serials, and The Lone Ranger comic strip. We owe him much.
 
Cig, loose tie, typewriter. that's what I call a writer. Thanks, Fran.
 
Much earnest and scholarly historical research has revealed that the character was originally believed to be inspired by Texas Ranger Captain John R. Hughes, one of the 'four great captains', to whom the book The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey was dedicated in 1915.

In 1949 the masked man moved to TV. Perhaps, on radio, he hadn’t even been wearing a mask. A frightening thought. Eight small-screen series followed, for a total of 221 episodes, and it was a big hit for ABC. The masked man, as everyone knows, was Clayton Moore. He had had small-to-middling parts in Westerns since 1937 and had starred in the serials Jesse James Rides Again in 1947 and Adventures of Frank and Jesse James in 1948. Clayton's tenure was interrupted. There were legal wrangles – the whole Lone Ranger franchise has been beset by lawsuits - and he was replaced in series 3 by John Hart (who played the crusading newspaper editor in the 1981 movie). Clayton rode again, though, from series 4 on.
 
Clayton and Jay. My heroes.
 
Tonto was the great Jay Silverheels. The character Tonto hadn’t even appeared until the eleventh episode of the radio serial but thereafter was essential to the whole show. The Lone Ranger had to have someone to talk to. On the radio Tonto was a member of the Potowahomi tribe but he has been from various tribes since. The choice of his name was unfortunate, to say the least (and he is Toro or Ponto in Spanish-speaking markets). Clayton always called him Tonno of course but I think that was just his pronunciation. Silverheels (Harold J Smith) was a Canadian Mohawk who started in movies as an extra and stuntman in the late 1930s. He got a small part in the 1940 Kit Carson and was in sixteen Westerns before The Lone Ranger.  He would play Geronimo several times and though the parts he got were nearly always two-dimensional and he played many stereotypical Indians, he was always good.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto made it to the big screen as well as the small one. There have been six movies (not counting the 1949 TV pilot, Enter The Lone Ranger): The Lone Ranger in 1956, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold in 1958, The Return of the Lone Ranger in 1961 (yet to be reviewed, shame on me), The Legend of the Lone Ranger in 1981, a TNT The Lone Ranger in 2003 (review soon) and The Lone Ranger in 2013.

The 68-minute black & white TV pilot film was excellent. You see, it gives the backstory.
 
A must-see
 
In this gripping thriller, wicked Butch Cavendish and his gang set a trap for the Texas Rangers and brutally slaughter them, in a very 1930s pulp gunfight. Only one, who is, the dramatic voiceover informs us, the brother of Ranger Captain Reid, though badly wounded, survives. But we don’t see his face…

You can tell Butch is wicked because he has a pencil mustache and he shoots someone in the back. But this Cavendish is a smiling kind of villain. Who shall play this wicked man? Why, who else but Glenn Strange!
 
One of the greatest badmen ever: Glenn Strange as Butch
 
Now (you probably know this) when much younger, this survivor Reid nursed an Indian, Tonto, back to health and this same Tonto happens along now. He returns the compliment and cures Reid of his terrible wounds. The Ranger fashions a mask out of his dead brother’s vest (a bit creepy?) because he does not want it to be known that he escaped the massacre. He wants to ride the West and right wrongs. Anonymously. “I’m not going to do any killing,” he reassures Tonto. “I’ll shoot if I have to but I’ll shoot to wound.”

The Lone Ranger is already giving Tonto the menial tasks and Tonto is already meekly answering, “Me do.” Sigh. The LR hasn’t got his fancy gunbelt with two silver pistols yet, though, just an ordinary single gun.

They find a beautiful white horse about to be gored by a buffalo. Reid shoots the buff with his pistol and saves the nag. Oddly, the beast appears to be shod. Oh, well. Once he has tamed the wild stallion (Silver, of course), the Lone Ranger and Tonto on his paint, Scout, ride off to defeat Butch and right a few more wrongs.
 
Trendle was the owner of the Chicago radio station and claimed to have invented The Lone Ranger. Fran Striker apparently had nothing to do with it.
 
It seems everybody important in Colby plumb got shot, an old timer friend tells the Ranger. Butch is behind it, of course. Tonto, Kemo Sabe and the old-timer go to a secret silver mine the Lone Ranger happens to own and this way he can finance his crusade and have unlimited silver bullets.

Well, the Lone Ranger and Tonto deal with the gang alright but Butch escapes. Butch’s mount is no match for Silver, though, and at the speed of light the masked man on his white horse catches up with the villain. Butch is obliged to throw down his .45. But you know how sneaky he was and sure enough, he gets out a pocket derringer! It does him no good, though, not with the masked man’s silver bullets in the offing. So the evil gang is rounded up. “You take off mask now,” says Tonto. “No. Our job is just begun, Tonto. We have a lot of trails to follow.”
 
Boy, was he sneaky
 
Indeed they did. With 221 TV episodes and six movies to do, not to mention the comic books and all those personal appearances at fêtes by Clayton Moore in his mask, the trail had indeed only just begun.

To be brutally honest, the acting is desperately wooden and the script ponderous to a degree. But, well, it is The Lone Ranger. You can’t knock it. All serious Lone Rangerists, and normal human beings too, need to see this picture.

Seitz directed the pilot, 32 episodes of The Lone Ranger and two of the movies

Monday, August 25, 2014

Valerie (United Artists, 1957)


More a courtroom drama than a Western




 
 
Valerie is a black & white late-50s courtroom drama which happens to be a Western but which could just as easily have been set in the 1950s. It’s average.

It stars Sterling Hayden and was his fourteenth Western, coming between The Iron Sheriff and Gun Battle at Monterey. Hayden despised the Westerns he was in, doing them for the money, but in the early ones he nevertheless had a tough-guy energy to him. In these later ones he is more obviously just going through the motions.

The other actors are not at all known for Westerns and seem a bit at sea with this one. The director too, Gerd Oswald, had only directed one before, The Brass Legend, a B in the previous year, and the writer of the screenplay also had only worked on one. The whole thing doesn’t ring true as a Western at all. It just doesn’t look like one.

Westerns and courtroom dramas don’t usually mix because trials are static affairs with everyone sitting down and no guns, horses or Western scenery. Good Western/courtroom dramas are few and far between and when they do occur, as with Sergeant Rutledge, for example, they depend on action flashbacks. The Return of Frank James manages it but, as I say, they are rare.
 
Hayden. Stern.
 
Valerie has a very dramatic opening. Farmhouse, seen from outside. Hayden walks sternly up the path in and in the front door with another man. A lot of shots are fired inside, then Hayden walks out alone and rides off. The dog in the garden barks, then noses open the door to reveal to us bodies strewn all over the floor, and the name VALERIE (you feel it needs an exclamation point) is blazed across the screen.
 
Dramatic stuff
 
Thereafter we have a Rashomon/The Outrage approach as the story of how we got to this pass is told by three different people, each with his own agenda. First, the local pastor, Revd. Steven Blake (Anthony Steel), tells how he, though neutral and unwilling to interfere in marital difficulties, and uninterested from a passionate point of view in Valerie, Mrs. Garth (Anita Ekberg), finally feels obliged to help her escape from the clutches of her brutal husband. Blake is convincing and the situation looks black for John Garth (Hayden) who is accused of the murder of his wife Valerie’s family and the attempted murder of Valerie herself – for she is not dead: she was gravely wounded in the farmhouse slaughter but is down at the doc’s, clinging to life by a thread.
 
Minister on the stand
 
Anthony Steel was an Englishman (as you can tell from his accent) who was a popular matinée idol at home but was more famous at the time for being Mr. Ekberg. He was married to Anita between 1956 and '59. Quite clever casting in a way because it sows a seed of doubt in our mind that he isn’t being wholly honest when he says his relationship with Valerie was but pastoral and platonic.

Then Garth has his say. His defense counsel (Gage Clarke) introduces him with a weak pun describing how he has known Garth since he was a boy, as young Garth grew to “stirling manhood.” Garth too is convincing as he paints a very different picture: Valerie is a gold-digger and a seductress, who drinks. She refuses him his matrimonial rights and has affairs both with Garth’s brother Herb (Peter Walker) and with the young clergyman. She becomes pregnant by another man.
 
A gun blazes. Murder?
 
So, which story is true?

We kind of guess now that Anita will be well enough to testify. And she duly does, from her bed, which can’t have been easy for the actress. The court adjourns to the doctor’s and Valerie tells her version of the “truth”. Now, in this version, Mrs. Garth is victim of someone mentally ill, a man scarred by the Civil War, a drinker and wastrel who married her only for the $15,000 dowry she brought. The violent Garth forces her to write notes to the minister begging him to take her away. Garth wants a pretext for divorce, you see, but one in which he can retain the dowry.
 
Hospitalized Anita testifies
 
Rashomon (羅生門,) is the 1950 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa, which was released in the States in December 1951 and greatly influenced American film makers. In that movie, even at the end you are never quite sure of who is telling the truth, and you can form your own opinion, though the abiding image is of the good woodcutter. In a later remake as a Western, The Outrage (MGM, 1964), too, we are not quite sure. Even the final ‘true’ version turns out to be flawed and bunco artist Edward G Robinson has a great metaphor about the truth being like the shell game: now you see it and now you don’t. But in Valerie, this subtlety is taken away from us by the rather coarse ending to the movie, which, however, dear e-reader, I shall not here reveal.
 


 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

City of Bad Men (Fox, 1953)


The big fight




 
 
Carson City, Nevada, 1897. Automobiles, shower baths, streetcars. One of the characters in the film says, “This isn’t the Wild West anymore”. You wouldn’t know it, though, from the movie. “Johnny Ringo” is there and Dale Robertson with two guns. There’s much gallopin’ and shootin’.
 
Definitely watchable
 
City of Bad Men is a Western heist picture and not bad. It was pre-Tales of Wells Fargo Robertson’s ninth Western. He made three in 1953 alone (this one, The Silver Whip and Devil’s Canyon - yet to be reviewed) and was looking very comfortable in the saddle (in fact he always rode well). In later oaters, such as Dakota Incident (1956) he managed to loosen up a bit, smile and so on, but in many of his Western pictures he has a bit stiff and formal, though I don’t say wooden. City of Bad Men is typical in that regard. Still, he had a certain Western toughness about him.
 
Tough guy Dale
 
On March 17, 1897, in Carson City, Nevada, British-born New Zealander prizefighter Bob Fitzsimmons met the American James ‘Gentleman Jim’ Corbett, generally recognized as the World Heavyweight Champion since he had beaten John L Sullivan in 1892. Fitzsimmons won by a knockout in round 14. This is the background for the story.
 
Bob Fitzsimmons vs. Gentleman Jim Corbett
 
Amazingly, the fight was filmed, by Enoch J Rector – it was the first ever widescreen motion picture and at 100 minutes was then the longest-running film ever made. You can see part of the film on YouTube here.
 
The fight was filmed
 
Many famous people attended as spectators. Wyatt Earp covered the fight for The New York World.

Huge amounts of money changed hands. The total revenue brought in by this fight was said to be an amazing of $2.7 million. Fitzsimmons earned a purse of $15,000, Corbett’s stake money of $10,000 and $13,000 from the film rights. Betting on the bout was also huge. One bookmaker from San Francisco had to employ four Pinkerton detectives to guard gold worth $150,000 which was paid out the day after the fight. In City of Bad Men, bandit leader Dale sets his sights on this cash haul.

But two other bandit chiefs have the same idea, Johnny Ringo (a young-looking Richard Boone, one of the best badmen ever) and Bob Thraikill (Don Haggerty, Marsh Murdock in Wyatt Earp on TV). The sheriff shrewdly appoints all three as deputies until the fight so that their gangs will not war on the streets.
 
Three rival bandit bosses become deputies
 
Actually, John Ringo died in Arizona of a gunshot wound, possibly self-inflicted, in 1882 but never mind.
 
John Ringo
 
The sheriff already has a whole heap of deputies, including James Best.
 
Deputy Jim Best
 
I glimpsed Frank Ferguson and Percy Helton among the watchers at the Corbett training camp. Harry Harvey was the saloon waiter. You see, everyone good was in it.
 
Left, Frank Ferguson; center, not sure (leave a comment if you know); right, Percy Helton
 
You’re beginning to see, aren’t you, how good the cast is. Well, wait till I tell you the composition of Dale’s gang. With him are his punk kid brother, Lloyd Bridges (Skip Homeier would play the same role in Dakota Incident); and John Doucette is the heavy Cinch.
 
The gang, Dale, Lloyd, John...
 
Then we have Leo Gordon as back-up tough guy Russell, Rodolfo Acosta as the cheerful rogue Mendoza and Pascual Garcia Peña as the renegade ex-general with them, whom they uncharitably call Pig. It’s a great gang. If only Dale had known that the Mystical Western Number is seven and no gang comprised of six members was ever going to succeed. Oh well.
 
...Leo, Rodolfo, Pascual
 
The fight isn’t too well staged and the boxers (Gil Perkins as Fitzsimmons and Jon Daheim as Corbett) seem a bit amateurish. Mind you, they do a bit on the old film, too. But I’m sure it was deceptive. Doubtless they really slugged it out. Queensbury Rules were in force by then and gloves were used. For some odd reason, the MC announces “Welshman Bob Fitzsimmons”. Fitzsimmons was born in Cornwall before emigrating to New Zealand with his family aged nine.

Dale dallies between two girls, as was expected in 50s Westerns, Carole Mathews and Jeanne Crain. There are no prizes, though, for guessing which one he eventually goes off with.

Mathews and Crain

There’s dramatic original music by Cyril J Mockridge.

Some of the movie was shot out at Vasquez Rocks, though most was done in town and in the studio. Charles G Clarke was at the camera (the 1939 Frontier Marshal, These Thousand Hills, Flaming Star, etc.) so it’s well handled from that angle. The Technicolor is bright, even garish. The movie was directed by Harmon Jones, a Fox editor who wasn’t quite so good once he donned jodhpurs and picked up the megaphone. His first Western as director was the same year, also with Dale, The Silver Whip and in ’56 he directed Robertson again in A Day of Fury.
 
Dale Lymoine Robertson (1923 - 2013)
 
Well, it all ends badly for most of the badmen. There's a good bit with a swinging punchbag. But Dale survives and gets the girl, you will be amazed to hear. Hope that wasn’t a spoiler but I have a shrewd idea you guessed anyway.

Definitely watchable. I've gven it a three-revolver rating because of the cast.

Quite