When I saw that British TV was screening an unfamiliar 1948 Randolph Scott Western, I assumed it would be one of his less exciting films in black and white - it's his later efforts that are usually shown. In the event, I was pleasantly surprised; it was shot in good quality colour that showed the outdoor scenery to advantage and the plot was better than in most contemporary Westerns (though not up to that of Red River, released the same year). Several of its features bring to mind later, better known, films.
Scott looks thinner than we are accustomed to see him, almost haggard, which suits him in the role of a driven man seeking vengeance for the death (and presumed rape) of his woman; this reminds one of Rancho Notorious and Scott's own Ride Lonesome. He has a very violent fist fight with Forrest Tucker (less weather-beaten than in later films), with the two men viciously stamping on each other's gun hands - a forerunner of James Stewart's fate in The Man from Laramie. And when Marguerite Chapman overcomes her religious scruples to come to the aid of her man, one thinks of Grace Kelly doing the same in High Noon.
George Macready makes a sinister villain and Edgar Buchanan is in his familiar role as a half-good, half-bad guy - and he doesn't growl as much as usual.
There are some unconvincing touches. When Scott rides into his enemy's town the citizens stare after him in a weak attempt to suggest that they sense that nemesis has arrived; this was better done by Burt Lancaster in Lawman and by Clint Eastwood in many of his films. Yet minutes later this supposedly sinister stranger is entrusted with driving a drunken, attractive woman home. And it's not giving anything away in a Western of this (or almost any) era to say that the villain gets what he deserves, but his precise way of dying is unrealistic.
On the other hand we are spared the sight common in Scott's later Westerns of an actor in his fifties (Scott was born in 1898) romancing someone half his age; indeed the love interest throughout is very low key, with the emphasis being on Macready's failed marriage.
All in all it's a good, enjoyable film to watch.
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