(director: Gordon Douglas; screenwriters: from the novel by Steve Frazee/Leonard Freeman/Leigh Brackett; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Folmar Blangsted; music: Howard Jackson; cast:  Clint Walker (Jim Rainbolt), Roger Moore (Shaun Garrett), Letícia Román (Tita,  Gondora’s Ward), Chill Wills (Doc Wilson Gates),  Robert Middleton (Amos Gondora), Gene Evans (McCraken), Art Stewart (Ricca), Nestor Paiva (Gondora Henchman); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Leonard Freeman; Warner Bros.; 1961-B/W)

The unimaginative story is full of sand.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Gordon Douglas (“Walk A Crooked Mile”/”Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”) helms this minor Western in Black & White. It’s based on the novel by Steve Frazee and is written by Leonard Freeman and Leigh Brackett. It’s set in the Utah desert. Fur trappers, the lifer trapper Jim Rainbolt (Clint Walker) and his partner from Ireland for the last 3 years, Shaun Garrett (Roger Moore), have no furs but discover gold in the mountains and have enough nuggets to be millionaires. Instead of buying a couple of pack horses with cash, Shaun tries to steal the horses at night from the stable of the ruthless McCraken (Gene Evans) and he gets caught. Forced to pay with a gold nugget, he’s allowed to take one horse with him back to where Jim waits for him in the desert. When they ride to the town of the Seven Saints, they are followed by the ruthless McCraken and around 8 of his henchmen. When confronted by them, the partners are offered a chance to split the gold in half with them to live. They refuse, hide the gold in a cave and the chase is on.

Their lives are saved by the eccentric Doc Wilson Gates (Chill Wills), an ex-gunfighter becoming a self-taught doctor, who cuts himself in for a share of the gold for not only knocking off an attacker sneaking up on the prospectors but for taking a slug out of Shaun’s shoulder. It was hard to believe how Doc just happened to be in the desert mountain at the time, but there you have it! The tale continued to become less credible the further it rides on, as they next meet Jim’s old roguish Mexican pal, the amoral leader of a gang of caballeros, Gondora (Robert Middleton). A character about as believable as Donald Duck. The partners stopover his hacienda for some relaxation, and fight over winning the love of Gondora’s sexy young Indian ward, Tita (Letícia Román). That nonsense, passing itself off as romance, is interrupted when McCraken stampedes Gondora’s horses and his men are chased by Jim and Gondora. When they return to the ranch, they find that McCraken abducted Shaun and is torturing him to tell where the gold is hidden.

The unimaginative story is full of sand, but the two heroes, both TV stars, with Moore about to play The Saint in a hit TV series and Walker starring in Cheyenne, a hit TV series from 1954-1960, adequately carrying the routine but watchable film. The B Western might only be for Western film buffs. 

REVIEWED ON 11/6/2020  GRADE:  B-