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John Sands (Rod Cameron), formerly a Texas marshal whose talents with guns caused the law to turn against him,is a fugitive in Mexico, when he learns from "Dusty" Stewart (Cathy Downs)that his brother in the Texas panhandle, Billy Sands (John C. Champion), her fiancé and crusading newspaperman, his been mysteriously murdered in Sentinel, Texas. Despite the price on his head, Sands comes north to the panhandle to find his brother's killer. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I watched a non-sepia black and white version of "Panhandle", with French credits but in English. "Panhandle" features Rod Cameron in the lead as a man out to avenge the murder of his brother. His problem is that he cannot get evidence against the man he suspects, Reed Hadley. The first and last thirds of this film see the most action. The middle part meanders but holds interest in its scenes rather than plot progression, with Cameron not really doing much of anything that pays off against Hadley.
Cameron is why I watched this. I like his style, which is no-nonsense and straight ahead. He's a commanding presence on screen, quite bold and imposing except around women when he becomes more amiable and even bumbling. Despite his drive, there's also something hidden in him in his roles, not exactly bitterness but a kind of fatalistic element. Two women grace the screen in this one. One is the feisty, diminutive (5' 4") and beautiful Cathy Downs, who was memorable fending off her husband Clifton Webb in "The Dark Corner" (1946). It was mostly westerns and TV work after that. She's Cameron's brother-in-law. It's her husband that's been killed, so she assists Cameron. The other gal works for Hadley, and she's Anne Gwynne (5' 5"), a solid actress with a substantial career in films. Both ladies have to look up to Cameron at 6' 4". Reed Hadley has a deep bass voice and is known for "Racket Squad", the 1950 series. Blake Edwards, who co-wrote, is a young and eager gunslinger.
The writing and direction of this one make it a little different than the typical western of the time. This one's heading into the adult western direction a bit.
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