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SILVER LODE (director: Allan Dwan; screenwriter: Karen DeWolf/story by Karen DeWolf; cinematographer: John Alton; editor: James Leicester; music: Louis Forbes; cast: John Payne (Dan Ballard), Lizabeth Scott (Rose Evans), Dan Duryea (Ned McCarty), Dolores Moran (Dolly), Emile Meyer (Sheriff Wooley), Robert Warwick (Judge Cranston), John Hudson (‘Mitch’ Evans), Harry Carey Jr. (Johnson), Alan Hale Jr. (Kirk), Hugh Sanders (Reverend Field), Frank Sully (Paul Herbert, Telegrapher), Morris Ankrum (Zachary Evans), Edgar Barrier (Thad Taylor, Attorney); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Benedict Bogeaus; RKO; 1954)
“This anti-McCarthyism western was inspired by High Noon, only it’s more explicit.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Indie English producer Benedict Bogeaus teams up with veteran director from the silents Allan Dwan (“Robin Hood”/”Sands of Iwo Jima”), in the first of ten such collaborations. Their 1956 Slightly Scarlet was the only other one that approached such a high caliber accomplishment. Silver Lode was made as a quickie, with a budget of $800,000. Since Bogeaus had the rep of going over budget, the suits at RKO insisted the producer hire the efficient Dwan who had a rep of bringing films in on time and on budget. After a brief clash on the set, the two reconciled and the final film satisfied all parties. This anti-McCarthyism western was inspired by High Noon, only it’s more explicit. It even has the villain, played by Dan Duryea, named McCarty (which is close enough), in case there’s anyone who doesn’t get the connection to the witch hunting senator. It plays out as a hard-hitting allegory on the hypocrisy of Senator McCarthy.

On July 4th, in the western town of Silver Lode, a surly stranger named Ned McCarty rides into town accompanied by three deputies who act like thugs and McCarty passes himself off as a U. S. marshal with a warrant for the arrest of respectable wealthy rancher Dan Ballard (John Payne). It happens to be the day Ballard is marrying the richest gal in town Rose Evans (Lizabeth Scott). The marshal halts the wedding ceremony and says Ballard shot his brother in the back and robbed the town of some $20,000 a few years ago in Discovery, California. Ballard came to Silver Lode two years ago and build up his big spread ranch from scratch, earning the respect of the town leaders.

The revenge story gets played out in full, as the wrongly accused Ballard stalls his surrender in order to obtain evidence that the marshal is really a rustler posing as a lawman. Finally he is forced to escape in order to clear his name, and that leads to the deputies being shot and the locals gradually wavering in their loyalty to him. The only ones who believe in him are a saloon gal, who is an ex-girlfriend, named Dolly (Dolores Moran, married producer Bogeaus after the film), who still has a crush on him, and his would-be bride.

REVIEWED ON 10/14/2006 GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”