Western movies


REVIEWED BY DAN STUMPF:


WILL C. BROWN – The Border Jumpers. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1955. Dell #878, paperback, 1956. Reprinted as Man of the West, Dell #986, paperback, 1958.

MAN OF THE WEST. United Artists, 1958. Gary Cooper, Julie London, Lee J. Cobb, Arthur O’Connell, Jack Lord, John Dehner, Royal Dano, Robert Wilke. Screenplay by Reginald Rose, based on the novel The Border Jumpers, by Will C. Brown. Directed by Anthony Mann.

   Lincoln Jones, on an uncomfortable train journey from Crosscut to Fort Worth, finds himself beset by Beasley and Billie: a tin-horn gambler and a saloon chanteuse trying to separate him from $600 the citizens of his small town have scraped together for him to hire a schoolteacher. But that’s the least of his worries as the train is robbed at a wood stop, speeds off, and he finds himself abandoned in the wilderness with the two con artists.

   Even that pales, however, when it develops that the train robbers, still close by, are the remains of an outlaw clan run by the notorious killer Dock Tobin — Linc’s uncle.

   We quickly find that Linc was raised by his Uncle Dock; raised to be a killer like the rest of the family, until the day he escaped and started making what’s known in Westerns as a decent life for himself. That life is shattered now as the demented (and still very lethal) old man takes him back into the fold, despite his glowering cousins Claude and Coaley, who would as soon kill Linc and Beasley (“I say we open ‘em up and leave ‘em here.”) and indulge themselves with Billie.

   It’s a situation rife with tension and dramatic potential, and author Brown develops it with the speed and precision of an able pulp-writer, fleshing out characters and background colorfully and adding bits of unexpected excitement to keep us off-balance — there are two brutal and unsettling strip-tease scenes — until he wraps the thing up a bit too patly. But it’s even more fascinating to see how director Anthony Mann and screenwriter Reginald Rose turned it into a piece of Pure Cinema.

   Gary Cooper brings his graceful authority to the role of Linc, along with a certain aging melancholy perfectly suited to the situation. He’s matched evenly with Julie London, projecting that sexy disenchantment she could do so well. Surrounded by murderous degenerates, she shoots them a look that seems to take it as just another bad hand in a crooked game. Arthur O’Connell, on the other hand, is delightful as a scrabbling, scheming angler, frightened and desperate, his agitation pitched perfectly against Ms. London’s weary composure.

   Among the bad guys, Lee J. Cobb has the showiest part as mad Dock Tobin, but I prefer the typecast meanness of Robert Wilke, Royal Dano’s off-beat lunatic and Jack Lord’s wolfish juvenile delinquent. Best of all though is John Dehner as Claude, the smartest and most dangerous member of the clan. There’s a really fine scene where Linc and Claude have a quiet talk and Coop tries to make him see the insanity of living like this while Dehner insists on loving and protecting the crazy old man. It’s a moving and sensitive moment (much like the one between Robert Ryan and Terrence Stamp in Billy Budd a few years later), and it lends dramatic weight to the shoot-out when the characters have to confront each other.

   Said shoot-out is a high point in the work of a director who excelled in complex action scenes, as the characters maneuver through a ghost town, running, jumping and throwing shots back and forth as they jockey for position until, weary and near death, they pause for a final sad exchange before finishing it off.

   This confrontation is set in a ghost town, the perfect visual metaphor for the waste and emptiness confronting our hero. And where the book wraps things neatly, the movie leaves a lot of emotional loose ends to dangle intriguingly in the viewer’s mind. Indeed, as the two survivors make their way to the fade-out through a bleak landscape, one recalls the tension, brutality and emotional rawness of this thing and asks, “What the hell just happened?”

   What happened was a great movie.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:


SABATA. Produzioni Europee Associati, Italy, 1969, as Ehi amico… c’è Saba Hai chiuso! United Artists, US, 1970 (dubbed). Lee Van Cleef, William Berger, Ignazio Spalla, Aldo Canti, Pedro Sanchez, Nick Jordan, Franco Ressel, Anthony Gradwell, Linda Verasta. Director: Gianfranco Parolini.

   Don’t watch Sabata, the first of the Sabata Trilogy, for the plot. Because, truth be told, the plot is neither particularly interesting, nor is it central to the movie. Holding this enjoyably silly movie together are the following three key ingredients: Lee Van Cleef’s role as the title character; the Spaghetti Western visual aesthetic replete with wild zoom-ins; and, of course, distinct music that would be completely out of place anywhere but a late 1960s Italian western.

   Who is Sabata? He’s first and foremost a character portrayed by Lee Van Cleef. He’s also a drifter, gunfighter, friend, schemer, and vigilante who, one day, rides into a small Texas town. Lo and behold, the town just happens to experience a bank robbery soon upon Sabata’s arrival. He’s not responsible for the crime, however. The culprits are a ragtag group of outlaws and acrobats (just go with it). Sabata decides that he’s going to take it upon himself to bring the perpetrators to justice; well, his brand of justice anyway.

   After receiving a reward for retrieving the loot and returning it to its proper owners, Sabata soon discovers that the elite townsfolk are the ones really behind the crime. What’s a man like Sabata to do? Blackmail them, of course. This leads Sabata into an unlikely partnership with a drunken war veteran named Carrincha (Ignazio Spalla) and a mute Indian acrobat named Alley Cat (Aldo Canti). These two misfits become not just his partners, but also his hangout buddies. It also leads him headlong into a confrontation with a former associate, the mysterious banjo player named . . . Banjo (William Berger). He’s a gunfighter just like Sabata and he’s no pushover. So you know it’s going to be a fight to the finish.

   As I mentioned before, the plot is really secondary to the film’s aesthetic. If you don’t care for Spaghetti Westerns, Sabata isn’t going to work for you. If you do like them, you may agree with me that this is actually nifty little film that doesn’t require much from the viewer. What it lacks in coherence it more than makes up for in slightly off kilter visuals and well choreographed gunfights, all set to a remarkably effective soundtrack that really propels this buddy movie forward.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:


SHOTGUN. Allied Artists, 1955. Sterling Hayden, Yvonne De Carlo, Zachary Scott, Guy Prescott. Screenplay: Clark E. Reynolds & Rory Calhoun. Director: Lesley Selander.

   When I recently discovered a DVD copy of Shotgun at a used record store, my first thought was: count me in! After all, I’m a fan of Sterling Hayden and definitely appreciate Zachary Scott’s presence in Westerns, particularly those where he portrays a slimy, half-good, half-bad character. Plus with Yvonne De Carlo as the female lead, I thought I’d stumbled upon a minor gem that I hadn’t heard of before.

   Alas, it was not to be. Shotgun is, in many respects, a complete misfire. It’s not that the movie doesn’t have some solid acting, and it’s not as if the script is a total disaster. It’s just that the film really has no particular cinematic presence, aside from being just another mid-1950s genre movie with mid-level star power. Simply put, there’s nothing new under western skies in this movie that you haven’t seen before.

   Hayden portrays the laconic Clay Harden, outlaw-turned-lawman. After his the shotgun-wielding outlaw named Ben Thompson (Guy Prescott) mows down his friend and colleague, Harden takes it upon himself to exact bloody revenge. He sets out, shotgun in hand, to Apache Territory to find Thompson.

   Along the way, he encounters the enigmatic but sexy wildcat Abby (De Carlo) and bounty hunter Reb (Scott), a man he knows from his past. There is romance, Apaches on the warpath, gun running, and a final duel. Some of it’s worth watching, but a lot of it feels like it’s all by rote and checking off boxes. Western tropes come flying like a shotgun blast in this one.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:


HANNIE CAULDER. Tigon British Film Productions, UK, 1971. Paramount Pictures, US, 1972. Raquel Welch, Robert Culp, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Christopher Lee, Diana Dors. Director: Burt Kennedy.

   Hannie Caulder is the type of movie that could only have been made in the 1970s, a time of comparably anarchic freedom for directors, producers, and screenwriters. Take a few well known characters actors and cast them as buffoonish rapists, add a strong willed feminist protagonist to be portrayed by a leading sex symbol, and then cast Robert Culp and Christopher Lee as a bounty hunter and a gunsmith, respectively, and you’ve got yourself a Western cult classic in the making.

   But wait, there’s more. While a Spaghetti Western aesthetic, replete with notably fake red blood, gives the film a gritty edge, a mysterious character, a gunslinger dressed from head to toe in black, adds a quasi-mystical element to the proceedings.

   Raquel Welch stars as the film’s title character, a woman who is savagely raped and beaten by three outlaw brothers portrayed by Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Strother Martin. After that experience, Hannie Caulder sets out on a course of revenge against the men who attacked her and murdered her husband.

   Soon enough, she comes under the tutelage of bounty hunter Thomas Luther Price (Culp), a solitary man who – not surprisingly – begins to develop romantic feelings toward Hannie. Price is a man torn. On the one hand, he’s willing to teach Hannie the art of gun fighting; on the other, he doesn’t want Hannie to become a killer like he is.

   All told, Hannie Caulder is a solid revenge Western. Look for Christopher Lee in his portrayal of Bailey, a boutique gunsmith camped out in Mexico. The interactions between his character and Price and Hannie Caulder are among the best in this truly unique Burt Kennedy film. It may not be among the best Westerns ever filmed, but it’s certainly a spunky little 1970s meditation on violence that isn’t easily forgotten.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:


FORTY GUNS. 20th Century Fox, 1957. Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson, Gene Barry, Robert Dix. Director: Samuel Fuller.

   Written, directed, and produced by Samuel Fuller, Forty Guns is an emotionally stormy, visually captivating “noir” Western. It’s one of those many mid-to-late 1950s Westerns with a script, had it been in the hands of a studio craftsman, would have produced just another generic movie about a gunman turned lawman facing off against a power hungry cattle baron. But in the hands of the Fuller, an auteur known for his work in Westerns and the war film genre, the movie rises above its recycled cinematic tropes and becomes something far more unconventional.

   Filmed in Cinemascope in black and white and replete with extremely well-staged sequences, Forty Guns stars Barry Sullivan as Griff Bonnell, a gunfighter who realizes that his kind’s days are numbered. With the lawless frontier dying, Bonnell decides to become a lawman and signs up as a federal marshal in Cochise County, Arizona. Along for the ride – both figuratively and literally – are his two brothers: Wes (Gene Barry) and Chico (Robert Dix).

    While Wes romances a local woman who just happens to be the daughter of the local gunsmith, Griff confronts with local cattle baroness Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck), a headstrong woman whose hotheaded brother Brockie is responsible for terrorizing the local townsfolk.

   Although they are on opposite sides of the law, Griff and Jessica Drummond find themselves attracted to one another. Both know that they are the last of dying breed, strong willed people who have risen far above what the world expected from them. Any chance of rapprochement is forever shattered when Brockie murders Wes in cold blood on his wedding day.

   While there are some gritty action sequences, Forty Guns is a richly textured film overall. It’s a Western that’s also a Gothic romance, a drama rich in Freudian subtext, and an occasionally subversive take on the Western genre itself. Pulpy to the core, Fuller’s film doesn’t seem to have garnered the same critical attention as Anthony Mann’s grittier Westerns.

   That’s unfortunate, particularly given how natural Barry Sullivan seems in his role as an aging gunfighter who, in the name of family loyalty, is willing to turn his back on what is perhaps his last chance at love and a normal life.

REVIEWED BY DAN STUMPF:


TOM LEA – The Wonderful Country. Little Brown, hardcover, 1952. Bantam Giant, paperback, A1190, 1954. Reprinted many times since.

THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY. DRM Productions/United Artists, 1959. Robert Mitchum, Julie London, Gary Merrill, Albert Dekker, Pedro Armendariz, Jack Oakie, Charles McGraw, Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Victor Mendoza, Chuck Roberson and Chester Hayes. Screenplay by Robert Ardrey, based on the novel by Tom Lea. Directed by Robert Parrish.

   One of those instances where seeing the movie prompted me to read the book, which I found very different but just as fine.

   As the novel starts, Martin Brady enters the story as an unlucky rider who breaks a leg while on a gun-running errand in a Texas border town. As he spends months recovering, surrounded by curious townspeople and shifty business associates, we learn that when he was a boy of fourteen in Missouri he murdered the man who killed his father and fled to Mexico where he has made his living for the last fifteen years as a pistolero for a wealthy Mexican land-owner.

   We also learn about the citizens of the town and the soldiers at the nearby Army Outpost: Gruff & thoughtful Doc Stovall who sets Brady’s leg; Major Colton, the new Post Commander and his tearful, unhappy wife; Captain Rucker of the Texas Rangers and his fiercely loyal men; the shopkeepers and soldiers in and around the town…. Lea takes time to evoke them all but manages it without slowing his story down.

   Ah yes, the story: As Brady recovers he finds himself growing closer to the community. It seems no one is interested in the unsolved murder of a no-good years ago in Missouri. The townspeople are warming to him, and Captain Rucker would like to recruit a man who knows Mexico and can speak the language. Brady seems set to rejoin the human race…. until he kills a man in a fight and has to flee back south of the border again where more grief awaits him till he can find a way back into humanity.

   Lea has his own unique way of recounting Brady’s labors as a hired pistolero; he gives us the expected bursts of terse action, quite well handled, but what he concentrates on is the ordinary unglamorous hardship of getting around in a hostile land. He makes us feel the heat, the cold and the ache in your bones crawling through wet grass on a cold night, or the saddle-soreness of long, long rides and the gritty business of pursuing and fighting hostile Apaches, lending a tactile realism to things most Western writers just ignore. He also does a skillful job of keeping his bad guys off-stage, lowering like clouds gathering at the edge of the story, then thundering in for a torrential impact. The result is a book I’ll come back to again.

   They couldn’t capture all of this in the movie; the film is set in that perpetual sunny Summer that seems a staple of the Western; characters are changed around, the plot is simplified, but The Wonderful Country is a film to treasure.

   Robert Mitchum, a great actor who phoned it in too often, gives himself fully to the part of Martin Brady: scruffy and unshaven for most of the movie, he evokes that kicked-around look he did so well in Out of the Past, combined with the leathery toughness you need in a Western.

   He’s supplemented with a worthy cast. The movie doesn’t have time to for all the personal details in the novel, but makes up for it with sharp performances from memorable actors.

   Charles McGraw evokes Doc Stovall in a few telling lines and gestures; Pedro Armendariz and Jack Oakie strut their arrogance and cupidity; Albert Dekker, Satchel Paige and Gary Merrill make tough fighting men, and even bit players like Chuck Roberson and Victor Mendoza (both as local bullies) stay in the memory long after their brief time on screen has flashed by. And the nasties kept off-page in the book are given a few memorably menacing shots early in the film so they seem to come out of the story naturally when it’s time to bring them on.

   Best of all is Julie London as the unhappy officer’s wife. No tears for her, though; Julie plays it with a sexy toughness that seems to bubble up out of the Texas heat and spread across the screen. Add to that a manner of frank self-appraisal, and we get a characterization of unusual depth and a few surprises.

   Director Parrish handles the action well enough, but this is basically a film about the characters. And it’s a memorable one.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:


VERA CRUZ. United Artists, 1954. Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel, Cesar Romero, Sarita Montiel, George Macready, Jack Elam, Ernest Borgnine, Morris Ankrum, Charles Buchinsky. Screenplay: Roland Kibbee & James R. Webb, based on a story by Borden Chase. Director: Robert Aldrich.

   Films in which American or European mercenaries show up in Mexico at a time of revolutionary change and hire out their guns to one side or the other, or both simultaneously, can be considered a proper subgenre of the Western. Alternatively, they have all the hallmarks of adventure films: an exotic locale, a daring protagonist on a quest fraught with danger, a love interest that develops out of said journey, and, of course, some form of priceless object or treasure that the protagonist hopes to acquire.

   As fans of the Western genre know all too well, there are many – perhaps too many – Spaghetti Westerns, most of them made between 1965 and 1975, that fall into the “mercenaries in Mexico adventure film” subgenre. Released in 1954, the Robert Aldrich directed film Vera Cruz may rightfully considered a pioneer work in the aforementioned subgenre to which I just alluded.

   Both gritty and lavish, Vera Cruz takes some effort and patience to fully appreciate. Upon first glance, the rather cynical story isn’t particularly complex, but it’s got a lot going on underneath the surface that merits attention. Indeed, Francois Truffaut himself was both a critic and admirer of the film’s narrative structure in which motifs and sequences, such as Mexican revolutionaries surrounding the mercenaries and one partner rescuing another, are repeated throughout the film.

   In the wake of the American Civil War, former Confederate colonel and Louisiana plantation owner Ben Trane (Gary Cooper) ventures south to Mexico in search of profit. He’s willing to hire himself out to the highest bidder in the Franco-Mexican War in which Emperor Maximilian I (George Macready) is facing down a Juarista nationalist peasant revolt led General Ramirez (Morris Ankrum). Trane ends up joining forces with Joe Erin (Burt Lancaster), a cynical, borderline nihilist gunfighter eager to double cross anyone who gets between him and his money.

   The plot follows the exploits of the two men as they guide a convoy filled with gold from Maximilian’s lavish palace to Vera Cruz. Along for the journey are a French princess (Denise Darcel) and a Maximilian loyalist (Cesar Romaro). Each is not exactly whom they seem to be, leading to a series of plots and double crosses, some of which do get a bit wearing on the viewer.

   What the film lacks in cohesion, it more than makes up for in sheer spectacle. There is something just so, well, cinematic about the movie. Indeed, the final battle sequence in which the mercenaries, along with their newfound Juarista allies, invade a government outpost is exceedingly well staged and photographed. The same goes for the final dramatic showdown between the two mercenaries. In a movie like this, there can only be one man left standing. One last matter for Western fans: look for Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, and Jack Elam in supporting roles. They are great as expected.

REVIEWED BY JONATHAN LEWIS:


FIVE GUNS WEST. American Releasing, 1955. John Lund, Dorothy Malone, Touch (Mike) Connors), Bob (R. Wright) Campbell, Jonathon Haze, Larry Thor. Screenplay: R. Wright Campbell . Director: Roger Corman.

   A highly formulaic, but nonetheless perfectly watchable gritty Western, Five Guns West is perhaps best known – if it is known at all – as the first movie Roger Corman directed. Despite occasionally languid pacing, the movie has enough on screen tension and action sequences to keep the viewer engaged for the duration of the proceedings.

   Although Corman’s direction in this low budget production is hardly on par with Western auteurs such as Budd Boetticher and Anthony Mann, it’s perfectly competent and as good as, if not occasionally better than, the output of the numerous Hollywood craftsmen who churned out oaters throughout the 1950s. If you go into the movie not expecting anything particularly creative or inventive, then it kind of works for what it is; namely, a slightly better than average B-Western.

   The plot isn’t particularly inventive, but it works. When Confederate leaders, already in tough straits, find out that one of their top operatives is about to turn state secrets over to the Union, they decide to “hire” a ragtag group of convicts to conduct a daring mission to intercept the would-be turncoat. Enter a bunch of criminal outlaws on horseback, each with their own agenda. There’s the authoritarian Gaven Sturges (John Lund), the scheming Hale Clinton (Mike Connors), the aging J.C. Haggard (Paul Birch), and the perpetually feuding Candy brothers (R. Wright Campbell and Jonathan Haze). One of them, it will be revealed, is not a criminal at all, but a Confederate officer in disguise tasked with keeping an eye on the men.

   When the five outlaws – or more accurately, the four outlaws and the spy among them – stumble upon a homestead run by the aging Uncle Mike and his beautiful niece, Shalee (Dorothy Malone), you just know that trouble is going to ensue. Just when it seems that Gaven is developing romantic feelings for the young lady, the men get word that the California stage carrying the would-be Confederate traitor is en route with a good amount of gold in his stead.

   As you might well imagine, since outlaws will be outlaws and Confederate officers will be gentlemen, there’s going to be a final showdown and a fight to protect young Shalee from the ravages of a nation torn by war.

Reviewed by DAN STUMPF:


LUKE SHORT – Station West. Houghton Mifflin, hardcover, 1946. Bantam #139, paperback, 1948. Serialized in The Saturday Evening Post from 19 Oct to 30 Nov 1946. Reprinted many times.

STATION WEST. RKO, 1948. Dick Powell, Jane Greer, Agnes Moorehead, Burl Ives, Guinn “Big Boy’ Williams, Steve Brodie, Raymond Burr and the ever-popular Regis Toomey. Screenplay by Frank Fenton and Winston Miller. Directed by Sidney Lanfield.

   Luke Short always had a way with gritty characters and down-and-dirty stories, and here’s one of his best. John Haven, a cavalry officer working undercover, gets dispatched to investigate the theft of Army Uniforms at the fort near the mining/logging town of South Pass Wyoming and quickly discovers that the quirky crime is merely a prelude to something much more grandiose and sinister.

   From this fairly conventional start, Short builds an atmosphere of pervasive evil and compulsive treachery, painting South Pass as a snowbound Western Gomorrah: a town run by corrupt bosses, rife with casual killings, where larceny is a way of life and life is nasty brutish and short, to coin a phrase.

   To be sure, there are some good folks here: the upright Cavalry Captain and his beautiful daughter; the hard-working widder woman working as Haven’s liaison; a few miners and freighters and cooks… but the impressive thing about Station West is how the author pushes his protagonist through a plot filled with a near-constant sense of danger and double-cross. Short keeps us guessing about the moves and counter-moves in a story that bucks and jumps like a toboggan on a bumpy slope — an apt comparison since he also evokes the chill of a Wyoming winter in a way that kept me shivering.

   As I watched the film made from this, it suddenly occurred to me that the TV character Peter Gunn must have been based on Dick Powell’s tough-guy persona; they show the same wry cynicism, share the lop-sided grin, are quick with a quip or a punch, and handy with the ladies as the plot requires. That has nothing o do with this review — just thought I’d throw it in here and look at the ripples.

   Anyway, the movie Station West works a few changes on the book. For one thing it swaps the frigid Wyoming locale for sunny, picturesque (and familiar) Red Rock area around Sedona Arizona. And they write in another character: where the criminal gang in the book is run by a couple of nasty tough guys, the outfit in the movie is headed by Jane Greer, who runs her unlawful enterprise with an iron fist, much as Barbara Stanwyck would do (more convincingly) a bit later.

   The Greer character lends a neat noirish tone to a film that carries it nicely; there’s enough night in this movie to put a Yukon winter to shame. We also get Raymond Burr as a crooked lawyer, Agnes Moorehead, and Guinn “Big Boy” Williams as a sadistic strong-arm reminiscent of his turn in The Glass Key (1935).

   The film carries over the fights, shootings and double-crosses from the book and carries them well, and it even makes room for a few brief and quirky turns by some good character actors, but one of these puzzles me:

   Burl Ives sings the song under the title credits and has a showy bit as a philosophical hotel clerk (you know the type) but he gets NO BILLING! His name never appears on the cast list or even in the musical credits. I did some research on this and found that Ives was blacklisted by the HUAC in 1950, which led to a rather controversial phase in his life and career, and I wondered if this might have something to do with it, which led to some deeper thought about the nature of hypocrisy and how one can deny the obvious simply by keeping a straight face…..

   But all that is mere idle speculation. And these thoughts passed like breeze, which man respecteth not. Station West is a fine book and a fun noir Western, and you should enjoy them both.

LAND RAIDERS. Columbia Pictures, 1970. Telly Savalas, George Maharis, Arlene Dahl, Janet Landgard, Guy Rolfe, Phil Brown, George Coulouris, Jocelyn Lane, Fernando Rey. Director: Nathan Juran.

   As far I call tell, the title of this European-filmed Western has nothing to do with the story, but it’s an entertaining tale that I enjoyed more than I do most of the so-called “spaghetti westerns” of the same era. Not that it’s without its flaws, but both the direction and the camera work show more intelligent thought went into the making of this movie than most low-budget westerns of the late 60s and early 70s.

   One visual point you may have to concede on, and admittedly it is a tough pill to swallow, is that Telly Savalas and George Maharis are brothers in this film, the latter embracing his Mexican heritage and the former doing his best to rise far above it. He is, even more than that, not only the richest land-owner in the area, southern Arizona, but he is also the greediest, with only the threat of the US Government taking his open land from him to use for an Apache reservation threatening his wealth and power.

   To that end, his primary obsession is that of fomenting war against the Apaches, whom he considers vermin who must only be exterminated. Threatening this, there is a feud between himself and his brother, which has something to do with the woman the latter intended to marry.

   Flashbacks, rather skillfully done, are therefore an important part of the way the story is told. On screen there is plenty of stampedes, runaway stages, scalping, pillaging, raping and even a bloody massacre to keep the action going in non-stop fashion. (Some of this appears to be stock footage from other films.)

   George Maharis acquits himself well throughout. Bald, without a hat, Telly Savalas is more than adequate as one of the most evil men in the West, but with a cowboy hat on, I’m sorry to say that he just looks silly.

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