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In Wyoming Territory, a range war is brewing between entrenched cattle barons and new settlers. Cattle king Reece Duncan is opposed by ambitious gambler Jim Averell, who imports his old flame, shapely saloon queen Kate Maxwell, and sets her up as an alternative cattle buyer. As matters build toward violence, Kate finds she's being taken advantage of. But her only potential ally in staving off carnage is seemingly mild-mannered sheriff Stan Blaine...who distrusts her. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
I'm just warning you. No animal on my property, branded or not, is a stray. Whatever you pick up on the open range is yours. Anything you take from me has lead coming after it.
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Okay, Maureen O'hara's dresses are over the top and half the cast in most scenes, seems to be thinking, "why is she wearing that". Still, the movie has some interesting qualities and good moments. First, we have a woman who not only looks pretty and sexy, but can ride fast, think and use a gun. The writer, Polly James, is probably responsible for the fact that we have an interesting and strong woman character in the lead, a refreshing change for a 1953 Western. Second, the film makes several references to Maverick. First Jeanne Cooper (36 years on the Guiding light soap opera later) gets called a maverick, then Maureen O'hara starts referring to Sheriff Stain Blaine as "Maverick". This was four years before the "Maverick" television series and probably this movie was an inspiration for it. William Bishop, as the heavy, Jim Averell, is a much more interesting character than the drifter Sheriff played by Alex Nicol. Bishop is also a better actor than Nicol. The plot twists are silly, but fun. For example, at one point, when you think there is going to be a battle between two gangs, the sheriff convinces everybody to throw their gun belts on a wagon. Surprisingly everybody does it. I just wondered how they were going to get the fifty or so gun belts redistributed back to their original owners when they left. There's some fun in watching Dennis Weaver (later "Gunsmoke" and "McCloud") in one of his earliest roles. He's fine. Also Jack Kelley who went on to play Bart Maverick in the television series is around in a slightly smaller part. Altogether, this is a rather pleasant 80 minutes. Maureen O'Hara, feminists and Western fans should especially enjoy it. Incidentally, costume designer, Edward Stevenson, went on to win an Oscar in 1960 for "the Facts of Life." He designed costumes for over 190 movies. Guess, everybody has an off-day.
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