(director: George Sherman; screenwriter: from the novel by Arthur Gordon/story David Harmon/David Dortort//Raphael Hayes; cinematographer: Henry Freulich; editor: Jerome Thoms; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Guy Madison (Frank Madden/Neola), Kathyrn Grant (Taini), Felicia Farr (Catherine Cantrell), Otto Hulet (Sheriff Jim Dixon), Wayne Mallory (Tom Shipley), Edward Platt (Neil Shipley), Michael Pate (Bert Shipley), Robert Burton (Jeb Cantrell), Ralph Moody (Matara), Phillip Breedlove (Takola), Frank DeKova (Charlie Washackle); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lewis J. Rachmil; Columbia; 1956)
“A superior message Western about blatant Indian hatred.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A superior message Western about blatant Indian hatred by vile white ranchers. It’s set in Oklahoma. George Sherman(“Big Jake”/”None But The Brave”/”The Battle of Apache Pass”) ably directs. It’s based on the novel by the southerner Arthur Gordon, who wrote it as bias against blacks. David Dortort and Raphael Hayes write the script, while the story is written by David Harmon.
New cattle ranch owner Frank Madden (Guy Madison), from Kansas, doesn’t want anyone to know his white father abandoned him and his squaw mom, as the proud man moves into his ranch in a region hostile to Indians. He witnesses a trial that has a white jury fail to convict the racist Shipley brothers-the oldest Neil (Edward Platt), Bert (Michael Pate) and the youngest Tom (Wayne Mallory)-of hanging two innocent Indians for just being near their ranch.
The liberal Judge Cantrell (Robert Burton) is ashamed of the verdict. His daughter Catherine Cantrell (Felicia Farr) is irate. Meanwhile the half-breed keeps mum. But the Shipleys are venal characters, and their ranches border on his. This means trouble, as they use his land for their cattle to graze and treat him with disrespect.
Meanwhile Frank’s Indian grandfather, who raised him, Matara (Ralph Moody), refuses to leave his grandson and it’s agreed he will be the live-in helper.
When the Indian husband (Phillip Breedlove) of one of the squaws hanged returns, he kills Tom in self-defense. Frank is blamed for the killing, and a lynch mob organized by the Shipleys is about to string him up, when the Indian maiden Taini (Kathyrn Grant) provides the alibi that she was with Frank all night. This saves his life. But the low-life Bert, who lusts after Taini, forces Frank into a gun duel and is killed. When Neil comes to his rescue, he’s also killed. Before Frank leaves town the decent sheriff (Otto Hulet) comes by to tell him he’s welcome to stay. While Catherine wants to marry him.
You won’t find a Western in the 1950s with a more relentless story about racial intolerance in the Old West.
REVIEWED ON 2/3/2016 GRADE: B+