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Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Powder Kilgore (Ray Bennett as Raphael Bennett) kills freighter Jeff Cameron (Edward LeSaint) and the latter's daughter, "Spunky" (Iris Meredith), sends for gunfighter Wild Bill Saunders (Bill Elliott, in another of his more than 195 films in which he was never, not once, billed as William 'Wild Bill' Elliott.) Bill finds that few men care to buck the Kilgore gang, and he gets consent from Governor Dawson (Don Beddoe) to form a state ranger's organization out of gunmen now in prison, the men to be pardoned if they prove themselves worthy. (A plot line used at least six times by writer/director Robert Emmett Tansey elsewhere in a ten year period.) Bill whips a Kilgore henchman, Lightning Barlow (Francis Walker), who is offering "Spunky" protection in return for a half-share in her freighting business. Bill jails Barlow and other Kilgore gang members when he and his "rangers" foil an attempted gold-shipment holdup. "Spunky" and her helper Cannonball (Dub Taylor) stumble on Kilgore's ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wild Bill Elliott, who got his moniker from playing Wild Bill Hickok in a popular serial, used the name Wild Bill Saunders in four films for Columbia. Wild Bill's trademark was wearing the two guns in his holster butt forward yet still drawing them in a traditional manner then swirling them around to put them back. Wild Bill was no phony. He was an expert horseman and had been since youth. Another trademark was calling himself a peaceable man yet using as much firepower as needed to knock down the bad guys.
This time around, Wild Bill attempts to put together a group of state rangers to clean up a band of outlaws led by the notorious Powder Kilgore (Ray Bennett) who lets one of his henchmen called Lightning (Francis Walker, not a name that invokes fear and dread) do his dirty work so he can stay free of the law. The outlaws work from a hideout which serves as a meeting house to plot and make plans for robbery of wagon trains operated by 'Spunky' Cameron (Iris Meredith) who has the hots for Wild Bill. In a novel twist at the time, Wild Bill hits on a ploy to use real-life killers who are incarcerated in the state prison to organize the rangers, since the governor is short on funds and willing gunslingers. This idea would reach its fruition in the hit movie "The Dirty Dozen" years later. Needless to say not all the criminals who are promised full pardons for their work are to be trusted. Some wise advice: Never trust a criminal who is called Shifty Sheldon. Wild Bill ultimately succeeds but not before a lot of action-packed adventure takes place. "Brother Bill" has a colorful exist on his paint as he rides out of town headed for Texas and more rip-snorting action leaving Spunky to dream about what could have been.
Cannonball (the redoubtable Dub Taylor) served as Wild Bill's comical sidekick in his Wild Bill Saunders films. He doesn't get to show his virtuosity on the xylophone this go around but has a few comic routines of note such as when he is "charred" by explosives when he throws them away from the jail house to save the day.
This Wild Bill outings has one major weakness. Though the story is a clever one, the script falters from time to time. There are plot holes aplenty and much is predictable. The lines given Wild Bill and Cannonball are at times somewhat silly. Otherwise, this is a fine Wild Bill Sauders flick.
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