Vinnie Holt, a single woman traveling with her toddler niece, becomes stranded at Rawhide, a desert stagecoach stop managed by stationmaster Sam Todd and his assistant Tom Owens. Owens is quickly impressed by Vinnie's independent self-confidence. Jim Zimmerman, a fugitive murderer from Huntsville Prison disguised as a deputy, and three other ruthless escapees take over the station, intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment. After murdering Sam, Zimmerman knows they must keep Tom alive in order to complete their plans. Owens does not correct Zimmmerman's assumption that Vin is his wife, correctly sensing that the misconception might be the key to her survival also. Written by
Rawhide was also released as "Desperate Siege" and that title seems to me to be a better summation of the plot than its more familiar original. Masterfully shot in crisp monochrome the movie has overtones of hostage themed movies such as Split Second,The Petrified Forest and The Desperate Hours ,and owes at least as much to the thriller genre as it does to the Western
Power is cast as the son of a stageline owner ,learning the business from the ground upwards at an isolated depot in the desert somewhere on the San Francisco to St Louis run .He is not enjoying the experience and has not fully adapted to life on the frontier and still clings to such niceties as shaving and taking regular baths ,much to the disgust of his boss the depot manager -played in customary style by the ever dependable Edgar Buchanan .One day a stage bearing among others a feisty young woman -winningly played by the charismatic Susan Hayward,-with a toddler in tow.when reports of outlaws on the loose is received at the depot she is not allowed to continue her journey as company regulations forbid the transportation of children in such circumstances Soon after a man purporting to be a lawman arrives and quickly reveals himself to be the head of an outlaw band which is intent on waiting at the depot for the arrival of the next stage which is transporting gold billion .He is played by Hugh Marlowe who shows a greater level of acting skill than was called upon in the low budget science fiction movies he is most associated with .Also in the gang is a giggling ,sexually obsessed psychopath (a chilling and emaciated Jack _Elam) and the more marginal figures played by George Tobias and Jeff Corey. Tensions build as Buchanan is killed while Hayward and Power are held captive and seek to escape while tensions develop between Elam and Marlowe as they battle for leadership of the gang The role reversal in the movie is quite striking -Hayward rather than Power taking the more assertive role in standing up to the outlaws ,and the differing natures of the outlaws is also well brought out ,Marlowe being a cultured and well educated man of good family gone off the rails owing to a woman This is intelligent ,well scripted and having more than a hint of the film noir A minor classic marred only slightly by a somewhat rushed ending
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