4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Jim Nabors gets shot.
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
8 October 2005
The title of this film is never explained; possibly 'The Conquering
Horde' refers to a cattle stampede. Certainly the stampede sequence in
this movie is one of its (few) highlights.
Taisie Lockhart (Fay Wray) and Dan McMasters (Richard Arlen) were
chaste lovers up until 1861, when the American Civil War broke out and
Dan upped sticks to join the Union side. This caused Taisie to fall out
of love with him, as she's a loyal Texan. (I well and truly dislike
Civil War movies that sympathise with the Confederacy. News flash: the
Confederates owned slaves, and the ones who didn't own slaves were
still dedicated to preserving the slaveholder system. The Union were
the good guys, got it?)
Anyroad, Appomattox has come and gone, and Dan has returned to Texas,
where Taisie is now the owner of the Del Sol cattle ranch. The state
treasurer is Marvin Fletcher, and with a name like Marvin Fletcher you
just know he can't be trusted ... especially as the actor who portrays
him (Ian Maclaren) makes only a token attempt to conceal his
stage-trained English accent. Sure enough, Fletcher has designs on both
the fair young Taisie and her spread ... her ranch, I mean. If only the
ranch would fail, he could seize it at poverty prices. And maybe Marvin
can force Taisie to give him her head of cattle. Nyah-ah-ah! Pause here
for moustache twirling.
Taisie does have one loyal ranch hand, whose name is Jim Nabors.
(Gaw-lee, Sergeant Carter!) Nabors is played by Claude Gillingwater,
who usually played ill-tempered misers ... either completely
unsympathetic, or else becoming charmed by Shirley Temple in the last
reel. It's deeply intriguing to see Gillingwater cast here so far
outside his usual type: in a role that's entirely sympathetic, and
actually more appropriate for a younger actor. (Gillingwater was past
60 at this point; a bit old to be playing a ranch hand.) Jim Nabors --
Gillingwater's character -- gets shot in one scene; I don't recall
Gillingwater getting into many shoot-outs in his long movie career.
Taisie is doomed to default on her mortgage, unless she can get her
cattle to Abilene. This is Richard Arlen's cue to arrive and save the
day. Of course, we know that Marvin Fletcher will make trouble.
Much of this oater is purely by the numbers. However, along the cattle
drive we get some fine photography by Archie Stout. There are several
impressive desert vistas, as well as scenes depicting a sandstorm, a
rainstorm and the aforementioned stampede. These scenes must have been
difficult to film, if only for the large number of cattle involved.
The underrated Arlen is quietly impressive here, in a role very typical
for him. Gillingwater is likewise impressive here, in the least typical
portrayal I've ever seen for him. The biggest flaw in this film is Fay
Wray's performance as the rancher. I found her entirely unbelievable as
someone dedicated to the hard life and steady routine of a livestock
rancher. With her makeup perfectly in place, Wray sulks her way through
her scenes, creating the impression she'd rather be swanking in some
nightclub. Cowboy movies are not one of my favoured genres, and I'll
rate 'The Conquering Horde' only 5 out of 10.
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