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It's just after the Civil War and Ben Shelby arrives looking for Johnny Tallon whom he plans to kill. Shelby was the only survivor of a battle due to the cowardice of Tallon. Thinking Tallon dead, another man who lost a brother at the same battle arrives to kill Tallon's blind brother. Tallon arrives to find Shelby and his brother fleeing. Then they are attacked by Indians and Shelby and Tallon must now fight together postponing the inevitable showdown. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
Fort Defiance is an independent western from United Artists, more interesting than good. It was an attempt at some adult themes in a western that would become more commonplace in the future. Sad to say though its characters are not developed fully.
Ben Johnson arrives at the ranch of George Cleveland and his two nephews, Peter Graves and Dane Clark. He's looking for Clark who has not made it home from the Civil War yet. Supposedly Clark ran out on his troops while on a mission to deliver a message and nearly everyone died in the command he served with. Johnson was one of the few survivors, his brother wasn't and he's out to get Clark.
As his big rancher Craig Wood who had running feud with Cleveland, Clark, and Graves before the Civil War, heightened by the loss of two brothers. He wants the whole family dead, including Graves who is blind.
Johnson, feeling sorry for Graves and Cleveland throws in with them before Clark arrives. They face an attack on the ranch, a stagecoach massacre from some Navajos before the inevitable showdown.
Possibly in the hands of a major studio with a better script Fort Defiance could have been a better film. As it is some of the character motivations just don't make sense fitted into the overall framework of the story.
Still this cast of good professionals feels at home in westerns with the exception of Dane Clark who was way too urban a character for a western.
Interesting film, but not as good as it could have been.
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