DALLAS (director: Stuart Heisler; screenwriter: John Twist; cinematographer: Ernest Haller; editor: Clarence Kolster; music: Max Steiner; cast: Gary Cooper (Blayde Hollister), Ruth Roman (Tonia Robles), Steve Cochran (Bryant Marlow), Raymond Massey (Will Marlow), Reed Hadley (Wild Bill Hickok), Leif Erickson (U.S. Marshal Martin Weatherby), Jerome Cowan (Matt Coulter), Antonio Moreno (Don Felipe Robles), Zon Murray (Longfellow Cullen Marlow); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anthony Veiller; Warner Brothers; 1950)
“Passe Western that is too talky.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Stuart Heisler (“Tulsa”/”Storm Warning”/”The Glass Key”) animatedly directs this passe Western that is too talky (though the dialogue is robust); it’s graced with the presence of the legendary Western star Gary Cooper, who makes for a good action hero when it’s called for and he’s not sleepwalking his way through the part of the laconic outsider. The screenplay by John Twist is too twisty for such a routine and all-too-familiar story; in conclusion, it seems better saddled up for a “B” star such as Buck Jones rather than to waste the time of a big name star with such trivial pursuits.
The plot has Gary Cooper playing the ex-Confederate Colonel Blayde Hollister, who rides into the pioneer town of Dallas masquerading as a frontier marshal in search of the war opportunists who killed his Georgia family, torched their plantation and stole his land. Blayde assumes the identity of the dandy U.S. Marshall Martin Weatherby (Leif Erickson) from Boston. In the process, he’ll give law and order to the wild brawling town by taming it with frontier justice. A refreshingly bosomy Ruth Roman becomes his romantic interest, recognizing he’s not her fiancé, Weatherby, but remaining mum as she obviously prefers his broad shoulders to the real marshal’s. The real marshal soon arrives in Dallas, but goes along with the pretense because he feels he’s a tinhorn who is not up to the job. While the baddies, the killers Coop is after, are played by Steve Cochran and Raymond Massey, the good-for-nothing cattle baron and banker respectively, the Marlow brothers. There’s also a third brother, a cattle rustler (Zon Murray), and their first names are oddly enough William, Cullen and Bryant. I don’t know what it means, but there you are. Antonio Moreno is the friendly rancher and Jerome Cowan the good town citizen, who both aid Blayde in revealing the Marlows as low-down land-grabbers.
The lush Technicolor, the fancy production values and the good camera work by Ernest Haller, make this under the wraps B-Western posing as an A-Western look far better than it actually should.
REVIEWED ON 7/10/2007 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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