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

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Restless Breed (Fox, 1957)

 
Another classic



 

 
 
The Restless Breed (odd title considering the content) is a classic late-1950s B-Western.
 
Racy poster
 
Made on an ultra-low budget and mostly shot on studio sets, it nevertheless has panache and zip. It stars Scott Brady, one of the wild Tierney brothers, as an undercover secret service agent down on the Tex-Mex border to investigate the death of his daddy. Brady was always full of vim. He looked like Marlon Brando, though he was a rather better actor  than Brando.

Like Brando, only a good actor

He faces off against Leo Gordon, one of the best heavies ever. Don Siegel once said that Gordon, who had served time in San Quentin for armed robbery, was "the scariest man I have ever met". Actually, the leader of the badmen is Jim Davis but he only appears at the very end to get shot. (He’s good though). It’s Leo who is Mr. Mayhem for most of the movie.
 
Leo the Great. Good German title too.
 
A young Anne Bancroft plays the Mexican girl who falls for Scott. Ms Bancroft was one of those women who grew more beautiful as she aged but she is pretty damn good here, aged 26. This was her first Western; they were all Bs.
 
Mr. Brady and Ms. Bancroft canoodle
 
Jay C Flippen is the US marshal and Rhys Williams is the pastor who tries to redeem Scott. So really solid support acting.

There’s also a strange kind of silent chorus in the shape of Scott Marlowe as Allan (coincidence or not, the director’s first name). He just observes - spying or eavesdropping - and we often see the action from his POV.

The Eastmancolor print has a pleasant blue wash to it. The set is pretty basic, like painted scenery, but this is almost good: it makes the drama more like a stage play.

Veteran director Allan Dwan made no fewer than 171 Westerns, 149 of them silents between 1911 and 1913! But he also made the 1939 Wyatt Earp picture Frontier Marshal with Randolph Scott, and Cattle Queen of Montana in 1954 with the dreaded Barbara Stanwyck. Aged 72, he directed The Restless Breed, his last oater, with a deft touch.
 
Allan Dwan
 

If you want a classy 1950s B-Western with punch, watch The Restless Breed. You won’t regret it.



2 comments:

  1. Excellent little film Jeff full of interesting ideas - a spy - often half naked - who has a license to kill - as says the formidable Leo, it should ring a bell to many...
    Also Short scenes like the very condensed but efficient, humorous too with the villains forced to dance, the card game or the hero becoming drunk or even the contrast between the beginning's announcement talking of legend when the film is everything but epic - not convinced by Marlowe by the way -
    I have a special affection for Brady since Johnny Guitar and an other one for Mrs Bancroft, one of the greatest actress of her generation even if it is hard to imagine she will play Miracle Worker on stage 2 years later in 1959 and unforgettable as Dr Cartwright in last Ford's film 7 Women, and as Mrs Robinson in The Graduate in 1966 and 1967. By the way you must correct The Restless Breed - is the title about Angelita ?...- released in 1957.
    JM

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    1. I fell in love with Ms Bancroft when I saw The Graduate in the late 60s. Dustin's infatuation with her was entirely understandable.
      Thanks for noticing the stupid error in the title - now corrected!
      Jeff

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