CIMARRON KID, THE (director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriters: Louis Stevens/story by Louis Stevens & Kay Leonard; cinematographer: Charles P. Boyle; editor: Frank Gross; music: Joseph Gershenson; cast: Audie Murphy (Bill Doolin/The Cimarron Kid), Beverly Tyler (Carrie Roberts), Roy Roberts (Pat Roberts), Frank Silvera (Stacey Marshall), David Wolfe (Sam Swanson), Hugh O’Brian (Red Buck), John Hudson (Dynamite Dick Dalton), Leif Erickson (Marshal John Sutton), Yvette Dugay (Rose), James Best (Bitter Creek Dalton), Noah Beery Jr. (Bob Dalton), William Reynolds (Will Dalton), Elizabeth Root (Mrs. Lola Plummer), George Weber (John Hubbard), Wheaton Chambers (Thompson , lawyer); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ted Richmond; Universal-International; 1952)
“Briskly paced with never a dull moment.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The first Western directed by Budd Boetticher (“The Tall T”/”Seven Men from Now”/”The Killer is Loose”) is promising and points the way to his later great Westerns that starred Randolph Scott and were written by Burt Kennedy. Based on a story byLouis Stevens & Kay Leonard, writer Stevens follows the hardluck Bill Doolin (Audie Murphy) released from prison on parole after crooked railroad detective Sam Swanson (David Wolfe) framed him for a train robbery. On his way to a ranching job by train, the train is robbed by the Dalton brothers. During the robbery the excessively violent dumb gang member Red Buck (Hugh O’Brian) stupidly identifies Bill as a friend of the Daltons, and afterwards the angry passengers attack the innocent Doolin as being in cahoots with the gang and he flees to the ranch for his own safety. Called by the fair-minded marshal (Leif Erickson) into meeting Swanson in a lawyer’s office in town to straighten out the misunderstanding, the lawyer vanishes on a business errand and Swanson when alone with Doolin tries to beat a confession out of him and frame him if he doesn’t tell where the gang is hiding. Doolin overcomes Swanson and flees, seeing no choice but to join leader Bob Dalton (Noah Beery Jr.) and the wanted Dalton gang.
A robbery of two banks at the same time in Coffeyville turns into a bloodbath, where Bob Dalton is killed and only two gang members survive in robbing one bank while Red’s group succeeds intact in robbing the other bank. The surviving gang members meet at reformed bank robber Pat Roberts’ ranch, where Doolin falls in love with Pat’s beautiful nice girl daughter Carrie (Beverly Tyler). Doolin gets dubbed “The Cimarron Kid,” being that he lives near the Cimarron River, and because of his fast draw becomes the new gang leader, leading the Daltons on a number of train and bank hold-ups while operating out of the Oklahoma Territory. Tired of being on the run and without big money, the Kid dreams of getting enough money to start a ranch in Argentina with Carrie and going straight. Escaping from a trap in Boonesville, where a woman saloon owner (Elizabeth Root) turned the gang in for the $10,000 reward, the gang retreats to a gloomy hideout in the hills. Gang member Dynamite Dick Dalton (John Hudson) returns to the hideout after being separated and tells the gang that his crooked brother-in-law, George Weber (John Hubbard), a railroad employee who wants the gang–the Kid, Will Dalton (William Reynolds), Bitter Creek Dalton (James Best) and his loyal girlfriend Rose (Yvette Dugay)– in on his scheme to steal gold bricks being shipped by train across the west. Dynamite and George double-cross the gang and get both Bitter and Will fatally shot in an ambush set by Swanson.The Kid takes care of both double-crossers by forcing them to face the railroad posse waiting in ambush to kill the gang one by one and flees toPat Roberts’ ranch. Carrie feels the only way to save the Kid is to hand him over to the law and let him serve his time in jail. She promises to be there for him when he gets out and Pat says he’ll give them his ranch as an inheritance when he dies.
Briskly paced with never a dull moment. Though certainly not a great or sagacious Western, but it’s one that’s action-packed, most entertaining and the easy going Audie is a very appealing star.
REVIEWED ON 4/7/2012 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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