A gang of claim jumpers is infesting the territory, gaining ownership of undermanned mining operations through extortion...and leaving no live witnesses. But one victim, quick-drawing gambler Luke Cromwell, escapes. Meanwhille, Marshal Lightnin' Tyrone is also after the gang; recovering from one raid, he meets femme fatale Opal Lacy, who may not be healthy for him to know. When Luke, now calling himself the Silver Kid, joins forces with Marshal Tyrone, the gang had better watch out ...unless something drives a wedge between the new allies. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A small western town is surrounded by small mines and areas of land run by their owners. A gang of claim jumpers are forcing the owners to sign their claims over to them but then kill them anyway. When Marshall 'Lightning' Tyrone takes a party after the gang he leaves old timer Dan Music as Deputy of the town. Having failed to find the gang, Lightning returns to find to find that Music has been murdered (shot in the back). Lightning sets out to get to the bottom of the murder and has several suspects already before the deceitful Opal Lacy points him towards Luke Cromwell, known as the Silver Kid. Whenever the Kid proves it could not have been him, Lightning takes him on as a deputy.
I came to this film on the basis of it being Don Siegel's first western and the first film he made in colour. The plot is pretty basic and doesn't live up to the suggestions of the opening instead becoming rather focused on the actions of a few characters. As such, it works on a B movie level and that is pretty much what I expected it to do. This focused plot is improved by a good range of fun characters with fancy names and exaggerated characters to match: the tough broad, the kid, the tough sheriff, the old coot etc. All the clichés are here but they are delivered with a slight sense of fun that helps it move smoothly. The colour is good and Siegel's direction is solid enough (although he would do much better later).
Despite top billing on imdb going to Murphy, the real lead here is McNally and he does it well. His sheriff is tough, friendly and it is him we care about when the final shoot out comes. Murphy is good but his character has less meat on it and he has therefore less to do that really sticks in the mind. Domergue is given a good character and she convinces as a sort of Western femme fatale. Cabot has a much more standard role and is less interesting as a result. Aside from Domergue the 'baddies' are fairly unmemorable; when the film started they were tough and violent but eventually we are presented Mohr's words in place of this and it really isn't enough for a fun B-movie.
Despite it's obvious flaws this is a really good fun B-movie western and you'll like it if you view it as such. The plot is basic but enjoyable with plenty of likable characters who are as bright as the Technicolor they are presented in. Siegel's first western is a fun film and should be enjoyed as such it's far from his best and fans may only come to it because of the significance in his career but it is worth seeing if you're in the mood for this type of film.
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