(director/writer: RG Springsteen; screenwriter: Mary and Willard Willingham/from the novel by Marvin H. Albert; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Russell F. Schoengarth; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Audie Murphy (Logan Keliher), Beverley Owen (Susan), Darren McGavin (Sam Ward), Ruta Lee (Lottie), George Tobias (Diggs), Edward Platt (Tucker), Alan Hale Jr. (Nate Leach), Skip Homeier (Pink), Berkeley Harris (Jeff), Kevin Tate (Sammy), Cece Whitney (Goldie); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gordon Kay; Universal; 1964)

Plenty of muscle and story line for such a routine low-budget B-Western.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Plenty of muscle and story line for such a routine low-budget B-Western. RG Springsteen(“Showdown”/”Taggart”/”Come Next Spring”) directs with a full head of steam this diverting revenge story. Writers Mary and Willard Willingham adapt it to the screen from the novel by Marvin H. Albert. It features great location vistas by renown cinematographer Joseph Biroc, which makes it a most pleasant watch.

The story is set in Griffin, Texas, where the former Texas RangerLogan Keliher (Audie Murphy), a good guy family man, is a struggling farmer who has married Susan (Beverley Owen), the ex-wife of a killer serving a life sentence, Sam Ward (Darren McGavin). Sam was a Ranger with Logan until he turned into a bank robber and killed a few during his crimes. Sam escapes and threatens to kill his best friend for marrying his Susan and raising his kid Sam (Kevin Tate). Logan quit the Rangers rather than go after Sam, and fell in love with Susan when he tried to help her financially while Sam was locked-up.

Sam and his gang rob the local bank in Griffin while Logan is town getting a loan from saloon friend Goldie (Cece Whitney) to save his farm. After the hold-up, the gang is killed but Sam survives and searches Logan’s farm to shoot him and take back his family. When Logan is not there, Sam’s rebuffed by his divorced wife and flees to his mountain getaway spot in Apache territory where he quickly takes up with Lottie (Ruta Lee). She’s the good-looking squeeze of one of the dead outlaws. Meanwhile Logan once again is forced to put on his guns to bring Sam in, but is handicapped with a mostly greedy posse that is maneuvering to steal from the robber the $20,000 stolen bank money and divide it up among themselves after killing the bank robber. When Logan captures Sam in his mountain cabin, the only decent posse member, Tucker (Edward Platt), sides with him, while the oily Pink (Skip Homeier), his lusty loud-mouth friend Jeff (Berkeley Harris), the wily money-hungry buffalo hunter Diggs (George Tobias) and the porcine Nate Leach (Alan Hale Jr.) plan on carrying out their foul scheme. But they are forced to unite when attacked by Apaches.

The third act is weak, as everything works out a little too fine to believe. But if you’re a fan of Audie Murphy, this is one of his stronger roles and he’s great as the farmer with a big heart.

Audie Murphy, Ruta Lee, and Darren McGavin in Bullet for a Badman (1964)