PANHANDLE. Allied Artists, 1948. Rod Cameron, Cathy Downs, Reed Hadley, Anne Gwynne, Blake Edwards. Screenplay by John C. Champion and Blake Edwards. Director: Leslie Selander.

   This is the film that the later 1966 western movie The Texican was a re-imaging of. (You can read the review by Jonathan and posted here not too long ago.) The later film starred Audie Murphy in Rod Cameron’s part in the original, that of a former lawman now living as a reformed outlaw in Mexico, but who heads back north again to avenge the murder of his brother at the hands of an unknown bushwhacker.

   The villain in this original version is Reed Hadley, a role played by the much heavier Broderick Crawford in the later film, but both are equally mean and despicable. There are a few other changes made, but the basic storylines are about the same, emphasis on basic, and I’d say that the two movies are equally entertaining.

   Some things of interest about Panhandle on its own, however. It was filmed in sepia color, for no good reason that I could see, and because it’s such an uncommon choice, it takes a while to get used to, or it did me.

   While entertaining, the meandering plot really doesn’t know where it is going. When John Sands (Cameron) crosses the border heading north, he’s confronted by a sheriff he knew in the past, but after shooting the gun out of his hand, Sands continues his journey north. The incident does not come up again. Once in the town Hadley all but owns, some townsmen call on Sands to help bring justice to the town. Sands refuses and the incident does not come up again. After a breakneck brawl in a saloon and a subsequent shootout, a stranger has Sands’ back to good advantage. Turns out he (the stranger) works for the federal government (something to do with the panhandle country), but Sands refuses and the incident does not come up again.

   Sands also chooses the wrong girl, to my way of thinking, but we can certainly agree to disagree about that, if you’re so minded.

   One other thing. After seeing Blake Edwards play Floyd Schofield, one of Reed Hadley gunman’s hired gunmen, it is clear that Edwards made the right choice in switching from acting to writing. He’s the one on the right in the photo on the left. I don’t think anyone will disagree with me about that.