DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE (director: Harold Schuster; screenwriters: from a story by Oliver Drake/Warren Douglas; cinematographer: William Clothier; editor: Maurice Wright; music: Paul Dunlap; cast: Dennis O’Keefe(Capt. Matt Riordan), Barry Sullivan (Link Ferris), Mona Freeman (Ann Bradley), Katy Jurado (Mara Fay), Sebastian Cabot (Jonah McAdam), Jack Elam (Tioga), Trevor Bardette (Marshal Bill Haney), Max Showalter (Phillip Scott), Hank Worden (Hopi Charlie), Jon Shepodd (Tom), Warren Douglas (Jud), John War Eagle (Chief Yellow Claw), Judy Stranges (Susan, Station Agent’s Daughter), Alma Beltran (Station Agent’s Wife); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lindsley Parsons; Allied Artists; 1957)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Top-of-the-line B-Western. Director Harold Schuster (“My Friend Flicka”/”Loophole”/”Black Beauty”) keeps it action-packed. Warren Douglas adapts it from the predictable story by Oliver Drake. The location shot visuals by cinematographer William Clothier are splendid. It’s set in the Old West in the 1860s.
Two convicted murderers, Link Ferris (Barry Sullivan) and Tioga (Jack Elam), are transported in a prison wagon through Apache territory, in the Arizona desert, to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Riding along are Marshal Bill Haney (Trevor Bardette), his deputy Tom (Jon Shepodd) and the driver Jud (Warren Douglas, also the screenwriter).
Further down the trail, the unscrupulous Indian trader (Sebastian Cabot) locates a detachment of cavalry troops murdered by Apaches, with the only survivor Capt. Matt Riordan (Dennis O’Keefe). Soon the prison wagon comes to that spot and then a stagecoach. The coach, coincidentally, is carrying Riordan’s former sweetheart (Mona Freeman), her wealthy fiancé (Max Showalter), a sultry Mexican entertainer (Katy Jurado) and the Indian driver Hopi Charlie (Hank Worden). Riordan orders both the prison wagon and stagecoach to alter their course and head for Fort Dragoon Wells, as he leads the party through hostile Indian territory. Expecting Yellow Claw (John War Eagle) to attack, Riordan orders the marshal to free Link and Tioga and arm them if attacked.
All sort on entanglements occur, as Yellow Claw follows the party and starts picking them off one at a time. It forces the lawmen and prisoners to bond together to survive, while the lawmen must fight for survival and also prevent the prisoners from escaping.
REVIEWED ON 4/29/2015 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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