(director: Joe Kane; screenwriters: Gerald Geraghty/Lawrence Hazard; cinematographer: John Alton; editor: Arthur Roberts; music: Nathan G. Scott/Ernest Gold; cast: William Elliott (Charles Alderson), Vera Ralston (Karen Alderson), Louise Kane (Karen, at age 9), John Carroll (Glenn Forrester), George ‘Gabby’ Hayes (Windy Gibson), Albert Dekker (Duke Lassiter), Virginia Grey (Lila Regan), Maria Ouspenskaya (Maria), Grant Withers (Joe Sublette), Dick Curtis (Ed Lassiter), Roy Barcroft (Sheriff Niles), Harry Woods (Ben Jackson), Minna Gombell (Queenie Lassiter), Trevor Bardette (Timmons), Paul Harvey (Judge Sheridan); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joe Kane; Republic; 1947)
“One of William Elliott’s better Westerns.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
One of William Elliott’s better Westerns; one of his few “A” productions. It’s directed by Joe Kane with an air of sensibility. The lively screenplay for the black-and-white film is by Gerald Geraghty and Lawrence Hazard. It’s set in 1868 in the Wyoming Territory, created by an Act of Congress, a hostile land with warring Sioux on the rampage. Pioneer Charles Alderson (William Elliott) settles here with his wife from back east, but his wife dies at childbirth. He befriends mountaineer Windy Gibson (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes), who becomes his lifetime friend. In a short time, Alderson becomes the biggest cattle baron in the territory, and romances newly arrived hotel owner Lila Regan (Virginia Grey). His 9-year-old daughter Karen (Louise Kane, the director’s daughter) is growing up without schooling and friends; all she can do is expertly ride horses. Maria (Maria Ouspenskaya), her trusted guardian of Austrian descent, talks her father into letting her go to Austria with her and receive a first-class education. Karen returns to Medicine Bow, Wyoming, after her schooling with a foreign accent and is as pretty as a daisy. The well-brought up young lady (now played by Vera Ralston) falls in love at first sight with her father’s ex-lawyer ranch foreman, the rugged looking Glenn Forrester (John Carroll).
Conflicts arise when Wyoming becomes a state and the government passes the Homestead Act, restricting how much land can be owned (a bad thing for ranchers)and offering land to incoming farmers. The film’s villain Duke Lassiter (Albert Dekker) blows into town with a scheme to start a range war between the nesters and ranchers, as he promotes the Homestead Act to draw in more farmers and rustles cattle in the hopes that the ranchers will go to war with the nesters after blaming them for the rustling and he thereby can steal the rancher’s land through the courts for their illegal activities.
Hot-headed Alderson is backed by all the ranchers who oppose the Homestead Act and they take the law into their own hands by hiring rustler Ben Jackson and his ruthless gang to wipe out the nesters. Glenn opposes Alderson’s plan as criminal and tries to intervene to stop the range war. He’s only successful when Karen chooses to stay with Glenn rather than her father, saying he’s wrong. This causes Alderson to come to his senses and work things out with the nesters.
There are two good action-packed scenes: the sleazy Lassiter getting into a classic prolonged fist-fight with Alderson when he tries to make a play for Lila and the climactic shootout between Lassiter and Alderson. A good one of its kind.
REVIEWED ON 11/6/2005 GRADE: B+