REBEL IN TOWN. Bel-Air Productions / United Artists, 1956. John Payne, Ruth Roman, J. Carrol Naish, Ben Cooper, John Smith, Ben Johnson, James Griffith. Writer: Danny Arnold. Director: Alfred L. Werker.

   I have a small confession to make. I find myself more and more liking the small budget black and white films of the late 1950s more than I do the large scale Technicolor epics of the same era. There’s often a grittiness, for lack of a better word, to them than the westerns meant for large audiences don’t seem to have.

   Here’s an example. Rebel in Town takes place after the Civil War is over, but not too soon afterward for all of the bitter hatreds and other emotions to have faded away. When a rebel-hater’s young son is killed in a tragic shooting at the hands of a family of former Confederate soldiers on the run, what comes instinctively to mind? Revenge, of course.

   As the young boy’s grieving parents, both John Payne and Ruth Roman make as much of their roles as they possibly can, and J. Carroll Naish as the Bible-quoting patriarch of the outlaw family is equally impressive. Admittedly this is a one-note story, but when it comes time for turning points to occur, neither the scriptwriter nor the director takes the easy way out.