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Harry L. Fraser
Shirley Jean Rickert
Dare Rudd and Dinkey Hooley, roaming cowhands, drift into Montana, where they meet Dare's cousin, Tom Fillmore, cattleman and banker. Tom offers them jobs but they pass, until Dare sees Tom's sweetheart, Judy Worstall and decides to take the job. He is put in charge of a cattle drive, replacing ranch-foreman Lynn Hardy, who is in cahoots with Bart Hammond, rustler. Dare delivers the cattle to the railhead and is about to return when he is persuaded into a poker game by Buck Brady, a crooked gambler. Dare is almost cleaned out when Tom appears and takes a hand and discovers the dealer is switching decks. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This one’s slightly better than Texas TERROR, mainly because it features a better-than-average cast – apart from Wayne, of course, there’s Johnny “Mack” Brown as The Duke’s cousin/boss, Marsha Hunt (later co-star of the classic Anthony Mann noir RAW DEAL ) as the girl who comes between them, Lucien Littlefield as Wayne’s sidekick/conscience, and Monte Blue as the villainous (but ostensibly respectable) leader of a gang of cattle rustlers.
Based on a Zane Grey novel, the film was originally released as BORN TO THE WEST – but this got changed on its re-issue to the more vivid HELL TOWN; interestingly, Wayne’s leadership of a cattle drive here anticipates Howard Hawks’ Western masterpiece RED RIVER (1948), in which he gave one of his finest performances.
Again, the film runs for less than one hour while involving standard excitements – a saloon brawl, various cattlemen-vs.-rustlers clashes, a marathon poker game erupting into violence, etc. – and familiar embellishments, such as comedy relief and romance (except that lovely young Hunt makes for a much more interesting partner for the Duke than the wooden Lucille Browne of Texas TERROR). All in all, though, the film remains strictly a potboiler.
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