(director: Ray Milland; screenwriters: John Tucker Battle/story by Mort Briskin; cinematographer: Lionel Lindon; editor: Richard L. Van Enger; music: Victor Young; cast: Ray Milland (Wes Steele), Mary Murphy (Nadine Corrigan), Ward Bond (Sheriff Gil Corrigan), Raymond Burr (Stanley, Bank of Mesa), Arthur Space (Doctor Mason), Lee Van Cleef (Clanton, Stanley henchman), Alan Hale Jr (Acting Sheriff Jim Anderson), Grandon Rhodes (Luke Joiner, Stanley’s Partner), Douglas Spencer (Henry Slocum, Undertaker), Thomas B. Henry (Maybanks, Newspaper Man); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Herbert J Yates; Republic; 1955)

“Ponderous, slow-moving but watchable Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Actor Ray Milland (“The Safecracker”/”Lisbon”/” Panic in the Year Zero!”) makes his directorial debut in this ponderous, slow-moving but watchable Western. It’s taken from a story by Mort Briskin and written by John Tucker Battle. The film is set in Arizona, in the late 1800s.

Wes Steele (Ray Milland) is a notorious gunslinger whose horse breaks a leg in the Arizona desert and while walking to town discovers a stagecoach with five people massacred. In Mesa, the greenhorn acting sheriff, Jim Anderson (Alan Hale Jr), is about to fire at Wes’s back without asking questions but the gunslinger whirls around and wounds him before he gets a shot off. Wes goes on the run from the suspicious town folks and overhears corrupt banker Stanley (Raymond Burr) tell his henchman Clanton (Lee Van Cleef), whose men did the stagecoach job, and his partner Luke (Grandon Rhodes) that they will blame the Apaches for the stagecoach attack. When Luke gets too nervous about the foul deed and Wes is spotted in the dark hallway, Stanley plugs Luke in the back and when the town folks arrive he conveniently blames the mysterious stranger for Luke’s death and the stagecoach massacre/robbery. Wes takes refuge in the cellar of Sheriff Corrigan’s (Ward Bond) house, who is sick with yellow fever in his quarantined house, and befriends his lovely daughter Nadine (Mary Murphy). The remainder of the film has Wes exposing the corrupt leading citizens, including Sheriff Corrigan. The sheriff, who was on Stanley’s payroll, has a change of heart when he recovers from his illness and joins the side of the good guys, and gives a speech in defense of his past actions. When the dust clears and Wes clears his name, he decides to settle in Mesa with Nadine, saying the next town will probably be just as bad.

REVIEWED ON 8/13/2008 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”