RAWHIDE (aka: JACKASS MAIL)
(director: Henry Hathaway; screenwriter: Dudley Nichols; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Robert Simpson; music: Sol Kaplan; cast: Tyrone Power (Tom Owens), Susan Hayward (Vinnie Holt), Hugh Marlowe (Zimmerman), Dean Jagger (Yancy), Edgar Buchanan (Sam Todd, Rawhide stationmaster), Jack Elam (Tevis), George Tobias (Gratz), Jeff Corey (Luke Davis); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Samuel G. Engel; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1951)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Rawhide is a remake of the 1936 crime melodrama Show Them No Mercy (aka Desperate Siege), which it transfers into a western. Director Henry Hathaway (“North To Alaska”/”True Grit”/”The Sons of Katie Elder”) keeps it suspenseful, while writer Dudley Nichols seems out of his elements in a western filling it with banal dialogue and gives the impression that he’d rather be working on a thriller.
Dangerous well-bred killer Zimmerman (Hugh Marlowe) makes a prison break with three yahoos and his men take over the San Francisco to St. Louis stagecoach’s relay station in Rawhide. The gang kills veteran stationmaster Sam Todd (Edgar Buchanan) when he tries to reach for a rifle and they keep, Tom Owens (Tyrone Power), the other man in the relay station alive to carry out their plan to rob the next stagecoach through. He’s a young wide-eyed Easterner sent by his father, the owner of the stagecoach line, to learn the Overland Mail business. There’s also a female passenger Vinnie Holt (Susan Hayward) with a toddler, who poses as Tom’s wife for her safety. The child is actually the widowed dead sister’s little daughter.
The gang stays till the next day, where they plan to rob a stage coming through with a gold shipment. Jack Elam plays Tevis, the sadistic animal-like gang member who tries to rape Ms. Holt and disobeys gang leader Zimmerman. The other gang members are more obedient to the boss. Gratz (George Tobias) is as dumb as a cow, while Yancy (Dean Jagger) is a grizzled but more friendly ex-con. The captives desperately try to get free of their vicious captives, and how they manage to survive is done in a predictable but well-crafted way.
REVIEWED ON 9/12/2008 GRADE: B-