(director: Stuart Gilmore; screenwriters: Charles Hoffman/Harold Shumate/Richard Wormser/novel by Robert Hardy Andrews; cinematographer: William V. Skal; editor: Sam Beetley; music: Paul Sawtel; cast: Robert Young (Dan Craig), Jack Buetel (Charlie Wolf), Reed Hadley (Frank Crawford), Janis Carter (Helen Dowling), Barton MacLane (Marshal), Tom Monroe (Russell), Connie Gilchrist (Ma Higgins). Damian O’Flynn (Capt. Jackson), Porter Hall (Kraemer), Sammy White (Willy Wayne), Judy Walsh (Nah-Lin); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Herman Schlom; RKO; 1952)
“A well-intentioned but inept attempt to show Indians as victims of white man’s deceits.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A well-intentioned but inept attempt to show Indians as victims of white man’s deceits. The easy to watch in lush Technicolor western is derivative of Broken Arrow (1950). Former editor Stuart Gilmore(“The Virginian”/”Target”/”Hot Lead”) directed only five feature films, this might be his only miss. The liberal pic is routine, predictable and listless. The titled character is wooden in his half-breed role. The former Billy the Kid opposite Jane Russell, would soon retire from acting to sell insurance in Oregon. The dialogue written by Charles Hoffman, Harold Shumate and Richard Wormser is trite. It’s based on the novel by Robert Hardy Andrews.
Settlers go west in droves after the Civil War. In the peaceful dusty town of San Remo, Arizona, the unscrupulous businessman Frank Crawford (Reed Hadley) pines for the valuable land of the reservation Indians because there’s rumored to be gold buried in its hills. He schemes to start an Indian uprising so the Indians will break their peace treaty and give him the opportunity to seize their land. When Crawford arranged for the crooked Indian agent (Porter Hall) to not provide the reservation with their promised monthly shipment of food by the government, the half-breed Charlie Wolf (Jack Buetel) stops his Apache tribe from going to war with the whites and comes to town to talk to the white leaders for a peaceful solution. The only one Charlie trusts to pow-wow with is the newly arrived drifter big-time gambler, an ex-Confederate major, Dan Craig (Robert Young), who arranges for the calvary to appoint a new Indian agent.
The subplot has Craig and gorgeous traveling show girl, Helen Dowling (Janis Carter), begin a romance and make plans to some day meet in San Francisco. Craig is busy helping Charlie Wolf avert an Indian war, and shows us his card, gun, lover boy and people skills. But things look bad when Crawford murders Charlie’s sister (Judy Walsh) and an Indian uprising seems inevitable. It’s up to the gambler to come up with a winning hand to save the day.
Barton MacLane is an agreeable marshal. Damian O’Flynn is the honest cavalry leader. Tom Monroe is the dim-witted goon used by the villain to instigate the Apaches to attack.
REVIEWED ON 3/25/2015 GRADE: C