|Index||8 reviews in total|
Ignored even when it was released this B western is akin to Audie
"No Name on the Bullet" as it is a different kind of western, actually a
suspense/mystery in a western setting, not a horse opera at all. The
is an ensemble of reliable character actors doing what they
This one is probably lost for ever, but it is an example of what can be accomplished on a starvation budget when a little creativity is applied.
IT'S THE WRITING, STUPID!
"Rimfire" is an almost forgotten little gem of a western. In fact, I
hadn't heard of it until it's recent DVD release. It was produced by
the Lippert Company and directed by the veteran B. Reeves Easton.
Easton had been around films since 1915 and this was his final
directorial effort. Running at a scant 63 minutes it boasts a fairly
large cast of recognizable western players and contains an interesting
Tom Harvey (James Millican) foils a stagecoach holdup and comes into town and takes a job as a deputy sheriff. Heroine Polly Jordan (Mary Beth Hughes, who was on the coach turns out to be the niece of the town sheriff Jim Jordan (Victor Kilian). Harvey confides int the sheriff that he is in fact an under cover army officer in search of some stolen government bullion. Harvey and Polly meanwhile, become attracted to each other.
Gambler, The Abilene Kid (Reed Hadley) who had also been on the coach, is falsely framed for cheating in a card game by saloon owner Barney Bernard (Ray Bennett) and his two henchmen Blazer (John Cason) and Toad (I. Stanford Jolley). Harvey believes in the Kid's innocence but is unable to prove it. In a trial Bernard and his two henchmen testify against him and Judge Gardner (George Cleveland) finds him guilty and sentences him to hang.
Following the Kid's execution, several of the Kid's accusers begin to be murdered by a ghostly figure believed by some to be the ghost of the Kid. A playing card in sequential order is found at the scene of each murder leading all to believe that the Kid is somehow involved. Finally Harvey discovers the identity of the murderer and.............
This was a rare opportunity for veteran character actor Millican to play the lead and romance the heroine. He had been around films since the early 1930s but is probably best remembered for his western roles (on both sides of the law) and for his distinctive speaking voice. His career was cut short by an early death in 1955 at the age of 45.
Others in the cast include Fuzzy Knight and Chris-Pin Martin as the comic relief, Henry Hull as newspaper editor Nathanial (Horace??) Greeley, Glenn Strange as the stagecoach driver and Margia Dean as Lolita a saloon girl.
Take a look at this one if you get the chance.
Rimfire is directed by B. Reeves Eason and jointly written by Ron
Ormond, Arthur St. Claire and Frank Wisbar. It stars James Millican,
Reed Hadley, Mary Beth Hughes, Henry Hull, Fuzzy Knight and Victor
Killian. Music is by Walter Greene and cinematography by Ernest Miller.
Captain Tom Harvey (Millican) is an undercover army officer working in a small Texas town investigating the theft of army gold shipments. Taking on the role of a deputy, he suddenly finds the town gripped by terror as they believe the ghost of a gambler who was wrongly convicted and hanged has come back from the grave to enact revenge.
"Gold and greed, it seems, go together. And so do. So do gold and death"
Clocking in at just over an hour, Rimfire is compact and unfussily directed for maximum impact. There's a slight irk that once the central hanging and conviction enters the story, the film barely has time to unfold the mystery element, in fact so much is crammed into the final twenty minutes you really can't afford to look away. But why would you look away when the film is so interesting in narrative and so visually arresting? The biggest character in the piece is Ernest Miller's black and white photography, low-key lighting with prominent shadows, there's a pessimistic ambiance given the production, a sense that humanity is rotten. Which when coupled with the unusual aspects of the story make this very much a unique Western of the 40s.
Well performed with the likes of Hadley, Hull and Millican turning in professional shows, and with super work from photographer Miller, this rounds out as very much a Western noir worth checking out. 7.5/10
The Abiline Kid is set up and convicted by a Kangaroo court for using
marked cards. Executed by hanging, he seemingly returns as a ghost to
terrorize and wreak vengeance on the guilty town that murdered him.
Rimfire is loaded with great character actors, including James Millican, Reed Hadley, Jason Robards Sr., and Fuzzy Knight, alongside two previous Universal monsters, The Werewolf Of London's Henry Hull and Glen Strange, the last of the classic Frankenstein monsters!
Although it's running time could (and should) have been stretched a little for greater suspense, this is still an entertaining, if compact, western whodunit with lots of great scenes.
It can also be viewed as sort of a forerunner (along with Django Il Bastardo) to Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter. In fact, the three would make a great triple feature.
This is a good little western from Lippert studios, and I don't
understand the low rating by IMDb reviewers. The film is a mystery
story and is well-written, taut and compact, and in only 64 minutes.
The cast, led by James Millican, does a uniformly good job, and there
is nary a bad acting performance in sight from the supporting cast. One
is taken aback by seeing suave, urbane Reed Hadley out in the
scrubbrush, but it turns out he's the suave, urbane gambler in the
Now, we're not talking MGM or Paramount here and so you have to consider economics, but production values are better than expected and there is a good deal of action during this just-over-an-hour affair. Overlook a couple of plot holes and a time-killing romance and you have an entertaining movie which has been unfairly neglected over the years. This was included in a DVD with "Little Big Horn", which is a better picture, but nevertheless, "Rimfire" is still a cut above.
If I was writing the script of Rimfire I might have taken this story in
an entirely different direction. I think the film had a lot of
potential. When first looking at it I was thinking it might be a
harbinger of what Clint Eastwood did in High Plains Drifter. If you
remember Clint is an other world figure who exacts a terrible vengeance
on everyone in his film.
Here Reed Hadley is a luckless gambler the Abilene Kid who gets himself nicely framed for a gold robbery and murder after first being falsely accused of card cheating. After that a whole lot of people start dying and their left with playing cards near the body. The spade suit is used and it goes right into the picture cards.
James Millican who is normally a good character actor is the lead here along with Hadley and he never believed Hadley was guilty. He's an army captain on detached duty for the Secret Service and sheriff Victor Killian makes him a deputy.
The ending is rather strange and disjointed as well. I will say a good red herring is given as the leader of the gang, but the final showdown left a lot to be desired.
Rimfire is interesting and certainly has its supporters, but I think it fails in the execution.
"Rimfire" is an odd western for several reasons. First, the film really
has no stars in it--just lots and lots of B and C-list supporting
actors. Second, the plot itself is rather diffuse and meandering. This
doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad film--just not exactly typical.
The film starts with an aborted stage coach robbery and it sure looks as if the film is about an evil boss-man in town whose lackeys are committing the robberies. Well, it ISN'T about this--though the first portion of the film is. The Abilene Kid is a gambler who is accused of using marked cards. In a VERY unlawful sort of hearing, the guy is railroaded and hung. Then the weird stuff begins--those responsible for the handing out this injustice are killed off one after another--with a playing card left with their corpses. You'd think the film is about some sort of ghost--but it turns out not to be. Then, out of the blue, a shipment of stolen United States gold is discovered around the same time the killer is discovered--leading the viewer to wonder exactly what was the film about, anyway?! The bottom line is that this is not even a B-western--it's more of a C-western with poor writing and an odd assortment of minor actors. Not terrible...but also not very good.
With the name B. Reeves Eason in the credits as director, one would not be out of line expecting a fast-paced and action-packed adventure. Eason was widely known and respected for the machine-gun speed of his movies. But upon watching this film, which should be retitled "Misfire," one would not be out of line suspecting that Eason directed it while under anesthesia. James Millican, a not unlikable character player, gets to play the tough guy that all the saloon girls ogle, but he has neither the looks nor the charisma to carry off this kind of Western leading role. There are plenty of fine character actors in this movie, and the plot could conceivably have been used for a tense little programmer. Instead, this one moves like frozen molasses. The actors speak at half speed, the editing is at quarter speed, and there is very little to hold one's attention. The slowness of this movie must be seen to be believed, but please....trust me. It isn't worth that effort.
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