THE HALLIDAY BRAND. United Artists, 1957). Joseph Cotten, Viveca Lindfors, Betsy Blair, Ward Bond (Big Dan Halliday), Bill Williams, Jay C. Flippen, Christopher Dark, Jeanette Nolan. Director: Joseph H. Lewis.

   For any number of reasons, Ward Bond didn’t get a chance to play leading roles in movies all that often, but even though he’s billed fourth, it is his performance in The Halliday Brand that takes the film out of the ordinary to something that lifts it above the limited budget it must have had.

   Joseph Cotten had the bigger name, but while his performance was otherwise spot on as usual, he was not really a cowboy. Ward Bond was, and as the bullheaded father who fights a losing battle with his three rebellious children in The Halliday Brand, bellowing all the way, he makes sure that everyone for miles around knows who owns the biggest ranch, built the town from the bottom up, and as sheriff, who ruled the range with no holds barred.

   But when he allows the half-breed suitor for his daughter’s hand to be lynched, then kills the boy’s father in an ill-advised attempt at a man-to-man reconciliation, he drives his older son away (Joseph Cotten), totally alienates his daughter (Betsy Blake) and leaves the third (Bill Williams) trying to be a good son but finding himself lied to in the old man’s plotting and scheming.

   Much of the story is told in flashback, which I believe is unusual in a western, but maybe I missed the others. This was the next-to-the-last movie that director Joseph H. Lewis made, and the movie is filmed with many interesting shots at various angles, and with lots of objects in the foreground. Overall, as a western, this may fall into the category of high melodrama for some, with some obviously outdoor scenes filmed on an indoor set, but as a melodrama, this is an very good one.