(director/writer: Dorrell McGowan/Stuart E. McGowan; cinematographer: Reggie Lanning; editor: Harry Keller; music: Stanley Wilson; cast: William Elliott (Shadrach Jones), Walter Brennan (Cap MacKellar), Marie Windsor (Adelaide), Henry Morgan (Rod Main), Rhys Williams (Chokecherry), Jim Davis (Cochran), Leif Erickson (Big Mart), Henry Rowland (Dutch), William Ching (Mike Shattay), Nacho Galindo (Gonzales), Charles Stevens (Indian Joe), Jack Sparks (Bartender); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William J. O’Sullivan; Republic; 1950)
“It has more going for it than the usual B Western.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A unique ‘The Lord works in mysterious ways’ Western from writers and directors Dorrell McGowan and Stuart E. McGowan (“Snowfire”/”The Bashful Elephant”/”Hellfire”). It was William Elliott’s last picture for Republic. It’s a solid action-packed oater that’s tightly scripted, directed and acted. It has more going for it than the usual B Western, including an inspirational Christian message about forgiveness. The cheapie production was shot on sound stages with back-projection and instead of actual location shots there was process-work.
Former trail boss and former Texas State Police Officer by the handle of Shadrach Jones (William Elliott) arrives in an unnamed backwater Texas cattle town to discover his kid brother dead with a bullet in his back and all the money stolen that was to be used by the brothers to buy a ranch. Shad suspects the murderer to be a member of the Circle K ranch and becomes foreman of a cattle drive to Montana to catch the murderer. By good police work, Shad knows the killer used a derringer, and he tries every way to find the owner of that gun. On the trail, Shad pushes the men hard to reach Montana before winter and is hated by all of them except the friendly Circle K owner Cap MacKellar (Walter Brennan). MacKellar preaches to Shad that revenge will not make him a happy camper and that he should trust the Lord to find retribution. That will happen, as at the end of the cattle drive the guilty party is gored to death by a runaway steer. The lone woman on the drive is the former owner of the Halfway House saloon, Adelaide (Marie Windsor), who sold her joint to have a half interest in the herd.
It soon becomes obvious who the guilty party is, but the lively film has many diversions along the way including a few deaths, a nicely played out fistfight and two gun duels. Elliott is a forceful hero with a rich booming voice and a grand cowboy presence. Henry Morgan makes for a fine surly cowpuncher. Nacho Galindo and Charles Stevens provide the comic relief (which didn’t do much for me). The film surprises with a square dance in the middle of the cattle drive among the cowpunchers and showgals in a passing wagon train.
The film’s best one-liner is delivered by Elliott to the bossy sexpot Windsor: “Why don’t you be satisfied with looking pretty!”
REVIEWED ON 12/15/2006 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/