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Steve Lewellyn (Rod Cameron), a drifter, comes into New Mexico just as it is about to be opened up to the law and to commerce by the oncoming railroad, but where a gun is still the deciding factor in disputes over grazing lands. He is set up as the intended scapegoat in a saloon robbery but escapes after killing the gunman in self defense. He picks up the robbery money but is wounded. Rescued by Sharon Lynch (Cathy Downs, daughter of an honest rancher, Steve gives her father, Pete Lynch (Stanley Andrews) the money to buy some short-grass acreage and becomes his partner, but is forced to leave the country after killing a neighboring rancher's brother, also in self defense. Five years later, he returns to the territory and finds Sharon and the other honest people being victimized by the rancher, who has vowed to get revenge on Steve. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Rod Cameron facing down Morris Ankrum and romancing Cathy Downs
"Short Grass" (1950) is a B+ western put together by the same team that did "Stampede" (1949), another good western. The IMDb rating of 6.8 is on target as indicating a western that's solid and above par. I liked it.
"Short Grass" is on the road to the adult western. Apart from some elements that appear in many westerns, like the struggle over open range in a relatively lawless territory, what's new and worthy here? Rod Cameron's character is a cattleman without cattle and without a ranch. He seems disillusioned. He doesn't say much. He seems to have a mysterious past. He's not an outlaw, but he winds up taking stolen money and he shoots a man. He sides with the smaller ranchers against the depredations of the empire-building Morris Ankrum. Cathy Downs plays a very interesting character. Her overworked mom died and she's left on a spread with her dad. She has definite anti-violence and anti-ranching ideas. She wants to be in a city. She cannot understand the land hunger of men like Ankrum and Cameron, for that matter. She plays a strong-minded woman. Her acting style is strong on exasperation, which appears also in her role in the film noir "The Dark Corner" (1946).
There are other distinct characters in this movie that contribute to its ability to engage us through a relatively familiar story. These include a doctor (Raymond Walburn), a saloon owner (Jonathan Hale) and the sheriff (Johnny Mack Brown).
This movie, like "Stampede" is technically very good: good sound, music, editing, pacing and cinematography.
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