A cattle baron takes in an orphaned boy and raises him, causing his own son to resent the boy. As they get older the resentment festers into hatred, and eventually the real son frames his ... See full summary »
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A cattle baron takes in an orphaned boy and raises him, causing his own son to resent the boy. As they get older the resentment festers into hatred, and eventually the real son frames his stepbrother for fathering an illegitimate child that is actually his, seeing it as an opportunity to get his half-brother out of the way so he can have his father's empire all to himself. Written by
This is one of a handful of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions of the 1950-1951 period whose original copyrights were never renewed and are now apparently in Public Domain; for this reason this title is now offered, often in very inferior copies, at bargain prices, by numerous VHS and DVD distributors who do not normally handle copyrighted or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer material. See more »
I got a story to tell - a yarn about cow country, cow punchers and men. I was workin' for the Strobie Ranch, a trade of worn leather and saddle blisters and brandin' irons. A trade with some song, some fun and some luck. It was as good a job as a man could ask for. Lonely sometimes and cold - so much distance you'd have thought you'd never get back - but for me, a young kid, it was a fine time. Memories are mostly good. You're up on top of the world where the air is clean and thin ...
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Since watching a number of vintage albeit minor efforts from recently-deceased Hollywood legends (such as Richard Widmark and Charlton Heston), I have been on the alert in seeking out similarly ‘neglected’ outings featuring contemporaneous stars; this, then, is an early Burt Lancaster vehicle – a pleasant (especially in Technicolor) but perfectly ordinary Western, his first of numerous stints in the genre and which include a number of genuine classics (VERA CRUZ , GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL , THE PROFESSIONALS ).
Anyway, as far as I can tell, this is Lancaster’s sole film for MGM (which gives the film typical gloss by also their customary blandness!): he plays a stoic ranch foreman, foster-son of crippled owner Ray Collins, who continually has to intercede for the latter’s ne’er-do-well offspring (Robert Walker) – married to a woman (Joanne Dru), but who has impregnated another (Sally Forest). For this reason, Lancaster goes out of his way to ease Forrest’s current predicament – a situation which, however, is misunderstood by the locals (and even more so by the girl’s revenge-seeking brothers, played by John Ireland and Hugh O’Brian); naturally, Dru herself doesn’t really love her husband but, rather, harbors affection for Lancaster – which he’s reluctant to return for fear of hurting both Walker and Collins (on the other hand, Forrest is admired from afar by timid ranch-hand Carleton Carpenter).
Still, as it turns out, Walker is beyond redemption: he’s jealous of his father’s affection for Lancaster, accuses the latter of wanting to usurp the inheritance which is rightfully his (when Lancaster proposes that Walker leave town and start afresh elsewhere in view of the scandal) – to the point that he coerces Collins to appoint him co-proprietor sooner rather than later (a position he exercises immediately when, hard-up for cash, he sells off a herd of cattle!); worst of all, he connives with Forrest’s brothers and a cattle-rustler (Ted de Corsia) – all of whom had fallen foul with Lancaster at some point – in order to get rid of the latter once and for all. Of course, his plans are foiled eventually – which sees the two ‘brothers’ facing off at the climax (a strikingly-handled scene coming from journeyman Thorpe); incidentally, Lancaster’s sturdy physique gets adequate mileage here: the star, in fact, is involved in a number of vigorous scuffles throughout.
Mind you, VENGEANCE VALLEY – scripted by Irving Ravetch, soon to become a genre stalwart, from a novel by popular Western scribe Luke Short – is brisk and reasonably enjoyable, and the performances surprisingly committed (giving the whole, if anything, an air of professionalism). Nevertheless, the film doesn’t amount to a memorable enough outing to secure much of a reputation for itself within the vast scope of this most ‘abused’ of American genres – incidentally, the fact that this particular title has unaccountably fallen into the Public Domain has only dampened its chances in this regard all the more…
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