SHOOT-OUT AT MEDICINE BEND (director: Richard L. Bare; screenwriters: John Tucker Battle/D.D. Beauchamp; cinematographer: Carl E. Guthrie; editor: Clarence Kolster; music: Roy Webb/Paul Sawtell; cast: Randolph Scott (Capt. Buck Devlin), James Craig (Ep Clark), Angie Dickinson (Priscilla King), James Garner (Sgt. Johnny Maitland), Gordon Jones (Pvt. Wilbur Clegg), Dani Crayne (Nell Garrison), Harry Harvey (Elam King), Robert Warwick (Brother Abraham), Myron Healey (Rafe Sanders), John Alderson (Clyde Walters), Trevor Bardette (Sheriff Bob Massey), Don Beddoe (Mayor Sam Pelley), Daryn Hinton (Amy Devlin), Ed Hinton (Dan Devlin); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard Whorf; Warner Bros.; 1957)
“This bomb is Randolph Scott’s last film for Warner Bros. and is perhaps his worst Western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This bomb is Randolph Scott’s last film for Warner Bros. and is perhaps his worst Western. Richard L. Bare (“Wicked, Wicked”/”Border Showdown”/”The Outlanders”) provides the inept direction. It’s weakly written by John Tucker Battle and D.D. Beauchamp. The cornball B-Western has an absurd plot line and the comic relief is silly. The black and white film is only of interest for the early appearances of Angie Dickinson and James Garner in their acting careers.
When Capt. Devlin (Randolph Scott) is mustered out of the cavalry, he rides to his brother’s Nebraska homestead with Sgt. Johnny Maitland (James Garner) and the dimwitted Pvt. Wilbur Clegg (Gordon Jones). There they save Devlin’s brother Dan’s wife Amy from a Sioux raid, but his brother is killed because he was sold defective ammo in Medicine Bend. The soldiers ride into Medicine Bend to find the criminals responsible for his brother’s death, but get robbed of their money and uniforms while skinny-dipping. Outfitted by Quakers in a wagon train heading west, the three are now working undercover in town disguised as Quakers.
They soon discover the guilty party is Ep Clark (James Craig), a crooked businessman, who sells in his general store shoddy goods at high prices and forces his competition out of business by intimidation. The vics can’t go to the law because the sheriff (Trevor Bardette) and the mayor (Don Beddoe) are bought off by Ep, and his goons (Myron Healey & John Alderson) enforce Ep’s will.
Devlin gets employed by an honest rival merchant of Ep’s and soon romances the owner’s pretty niece Priscilla (Angie Dickinson). Ep’s girlfriend saloon singer Nell (Dani Crayne), double-crosses him when she puts her foot down over his attempt to murder the soldiers. I guess robbing is not that bad, according to Nell. But her conversion saves the day for the trio, and in the end she snags the hunky ex-sergeant. As expected, Devlin brings the gang down and returns all the money they stole from the passing wagon trains heading west. He also gets hitched to Priscilla when all the action dies down.
It’s a poor imitation of The Man from Laramie (1955), Anthony Mann’s similar themed western that starred James Stewart
REVIEWED ON 1/28/2010 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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