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Return of the Bad Men (1948)

 -  Western  -  17 July 1948 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 444 users  
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When part of Oklahoma Territory becomes officially part of the U.S., Vance Cordrell is forced to deal with some of the most infamous outlaws of the Old West.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Pettit
Madge Allen
Steve Brodie ...
Tom Keene ...
Jim Younger (as Richard Powers)
Emmett Dalton
Walter Reed ...
Michael Harvey ...
Dean White ...
Robert Armstrong ...
Wild Bill Doolin
Tom Tyler ...
Wild Bill Yeager
Lew Harvey ...
Arkansas Kid


When part of Indian Territory is incorporated into the United States, good-natured rancher Vance Cordell reluctantly accepts the badge of federal marshal when a flood of notorious outlaws views the new area as ripe for banditry. Included are the Dalton and Younger Gangs, Billy the Kid, and the Sundance Kid led by the notorious Wild Bill Doolin. Cordell has a personal stake in his campaign to eradicate the bad men because of a friend's murder and the robbery of the local bank owned by his future father-in-law. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SOUTHWEST'S DEADLIEST KILLERS...Riding...Raiding...Plundering...AGAIN! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 July 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Schrecken von Texas  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although Tom Tyler would play Frank James in "Badmen's Territory" and "Best of the Badmen" as well as another film, here he plays fictional outlaw Wild Bill Yeager. See more »


Although Billy the Kid is depicted as being a gang member in 1889, he was actually killed in 1881. John Younger was killed in a shootout, and Bob Younger was dying of tuberculosis in prison in 1889. See more »


Bob Dalton: [Referringg to Sundance] Why don't you get rid of him?
Wild Bill Doolin: He's a good man as long as you keep him in front of you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, there is the following notice: "Except as to true names that are used and as to general historical background, the characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to other actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental." See more »


Follows Badman's Territory (1946) See more »

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User Reviews

The Birth of Oklahoma
21 May 2006 | by (Van Buren, Arkansas) – See all my reviews

In good historical fiction as in good sci-fi what is revealed must be possible, even if not likely. Though a superior B shoot-'em-up, "Return of the Badmen" plays havoc with the history of the Old West, not only in location but also in time period. Billy the Kid was never in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). It is highly unlikely that the Sundance Kid was ever in Indian Territory. The Bill Doolin Gang with the Arkansas Kid are depicted fairly accurately as far as place is concerned. Doolin called his band of cutthroats "The Wild Bunch" so maybe the writers confused Doolin's gang with Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. It is also true that the Dalton Gang rode with the Doolin Gang in Indian Territory (Bill Doolin began his outlaw career with the Dalton Gang). The Younger Brothers with Frank and Jesse James hid out in Indian Territory but did not venture as far west as Guthrie. Cole Younger allegedly had a child (Pearl Starr) with Belle Starr in the area of today's eastern Oklahoma around Eufaula.

The time line is also out of sync. Billy the Kid was killed in 1881, Jesse in 1882. When Frank turned state's evidence, the Youngers left alive went to prison. The Coffeyville, Kansas, blunder was in 1892. The 1890's was the time of the Doolin Gang's peak activity, joined by remnants of the Dalton Gang. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were active at the turn of the century. As the later classic western, "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" shows, Cassidy's version of the Wild Bunch was the last notorious outlaw band of the Old West.

The Oklahoma Land Rush that led to the founding of Guthrie, Oklahoma, took place in 1889, several years after Billy the Kid's death. The part of the film showing Guthrie growing overnight to 10,000 inhabitants is historically accurate. The lawman who takes Cheyenne (Anne Jeffreys) into custody to deliver her to the federal court in Fort Smith, Arkansas, had a long journey before him. It is today an almost three-hour drive by car from Guthrie, Oklahoma, to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

I have read that because horror film producers were successfully grouping monsters together in one film, producers of westerns thought audiences would turn out to see oaters that grouped badmen together in one flick. If "Return of the Badmen" overdid it a bit, the concoction does make for an entertaining picture. At the crux of the story is the conflict between Marshal Vance Cordell (Randolph Scott) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Ryan). These two skilled actors make the whole hodgepodge work. The Sundance Kid is portrayed as a hothead who is more interested in killing the Marshal than in robbing banks. Ryan's concept of the Sundance Kid is quite different from Robert Redford's later incarnation of the badman. Redford's Kid is jovial, fun-loving, yet deadly when provoked. Ryan's Kid is dead serious, at heart a cold-blooded killer. As to be expected at the center of the rivalry is a woman, Cheyenne, a reformed outlaw, niece to Bill Doolin. To complicate the situation, the Marshal is already betrothed to the banker's daughter, Madge Allen (Jacqueline White), not the sweet, innocent young thing one might expect, but certainly with higher morals than the resourceful Cheyenne.

George "Gabby" Hayes, still a bewhiskered windbag, expands his sidekick characterization to include being a respected banker. This time around, rather than being the brunt of many a joke, Gabby is a good-hearted leading citizen standing up for law and order. He becomes a help to the Marshal, not a hindrance.

Director Ray Enright keeps the film moving with plenty of action, including a final shootout involving a burning cart of hay. "Return of the Badmen" is exciting and should please fans of B westerns of the 1940's.

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