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"Dakota Lil" is a routine western with two big differences. The first is the beautiful panoramic Cine Color photography which is at times, quite breathtaking. The other is the casting against type of Rod Cameron as the sadistic villain of the piece.
The story has Tom Horn (George Montgomery) going under cover for the U.S. Treasury Department in order to recover $100,000 in stolen unsigned Treasury Bills taken by the "Hole in the Wall" gang in a train hold-up. In pursuit of the gang, Horn meets up with expert forger Dakota Lil (Marie Windsor) and her companion Vincent (John Emery) and forms an alliance. Horn has learned that Harve Logan (Rod Cameron), who runs a saloon, is connected to the gang.
Lil double crosses Horn and hooks up with Logan and forms a partnership with him in return for her forging expertise. Horn meanwhile, catches up with them and Lil begins to fall in love with him. Anyway, they discover that Logan is actually the leader of the gang and team up against him.
Cameron is downright nasty as Logan. He plays him as a short-fused psychopath who brutally murders three people by visciously strangling them with a riding strap that he wears around his wrist. Montgomery is rather one dimensional as the hero but it must have been difficult to play against Cameron's villain. The charming and under appreciated Windsor makes an excellent good/bad lady. she even gets to sing a couple of songs while masquerading as a saloon singer.
Of the supporting cast, John Emery is very good as Vincent, Windsor's tragic love sick accompanist. Wallace Ford is along as Horn's contact in Logan's organization. Jack Lambert has a nice bit as "Dummy" the sadistic gang member who uses dumb-dumb bullets. Walter Sande appears briefly as Butch Cassidy (no Sundance Kid though) and veterans Frank Lacteen and Kenneth MacDonald as other gang members. Sharp eyed western fans will also spot J. Farrell MacDonald in a small role as a Treasury expert.
"Dakota Lil" though not a great western is nonetheless a feast for the eyes and a chance to see Rod Cameron on the wrong side of the law for a change.
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