RETURN OF JACK SLADE, THE
(director: Harold D. Schuster; screenwriter: Warren Douglas; cinematographer: William Sickner; editor: Maurice E. Wright; music: Paul Dunlap; cast: John Ericson (Jack Slade), Mari Blanchard (Texas Rose), Neville Brand (Harry Sutton), Jon Shepodd (Johnny Turner), Howard Petrie (Joseph Ryan, Pinkerton agent), Max Showalter (Billy Wilcox), Lyla Graham (Abilene), John Dennis (Kid Stanley), Raymond Bailey (Professor), Angie Dickinson (Polly Logan), Donna Drew (Laughing Sam); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lindsley Parsons; Republic; 1955)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Predictable oater directed in a workmanlike manner by Harold D. Schuster and written by Warren Douglas. This black-and-white film makes use of SuperScope, but the photography by William Sickner lacks appeal.
John Ericson plays Jack Slade Jr., a 22-year-old law student in 1886 in St. Joseph, Missouri, who has been plagued from childhood by the gunslinger reputation of his stagecoach driver father. When his history professor insults his father as a killer, Jack sneers at him, pulls a gun in class, and then quits college. While target shooting on the trail, he’s recruited to be an undercover Pinkerton agent by Joseph Ryan.
Travelling by train to Casper, Wyoming, to meet Pinkerton agent Ryan, Slade’s train is held up for the gold shipment by the Wild Bunch, a notorious gang, and lady outlaw Texas Rose (Mari Blanchard) takes his prized gun. On the train he befriends drunk cowboy Johnny Turner.
In Casper, Slade gets his assignment to infiltrate the Wild Bunch gang in their hideout fortress at the ‘Hole in the Wall.’ He goes there on the pretext of getting his gun back from the train holdup and settling a score with Harry Sutton (Neville Brand), one of the gang he got into a row with back in town. The gang leader, Billy Wilcox (Max Showalter), is impressed with his nerve and gun shooting, and lets him join the gang. Texas Rose falls for him, and proves she’s willing to follow him anywhere–even as she learns he’s working for the law. Johnny Turner, unsuspecting of his friend’s true mission, foolishly follows him to the fortress and meets his death at the hands of the gang. The determined Slade vows to bring the gang to justice and to restore his family name, and leads them into a trap.
The lively ballad “The Yellow Rose of Texas” is sung a number of times, as the number one song on the pop charts at the time gets a good work out during this lackluster shoot-em-up.
REVIEWED ON 10/31/2005 GRADE: C