The Lawless Breed (1953)

Not Rated  |   |  Action, Biography, Western  |  3 January 1953 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 653 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 10 critic

After being released from prison, former gun-fighter John Wesley Hardin hopes to have his autobiography published in order to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation.



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Complete credited cast:
Rosie McCoy (as Julia Adams)
Mary Castle ...
J.G. Hardin / John Clements
Ike Hanley
Jim Clements
Forrest Lewis ...
Zeke Jenkins
Dirk Hanley
Tom Fadden ...
Chick Noonan, Undertaker
Race Gentry ...
Young John Hardin
Richard Garland ...
Joe Clements
Ben Hanley
William Pullen ...
Joe Hardin


Released from jail, John Wesley Hardin leaves an account of his life with the local newspaper. It tells of his overly religious father, his resulting life of cards and guns, and his love for his step-sister replaced on her death during a gun fight with that for dance-hall girl Rosie. Written by Jeremy Perkins <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He cut a swath of daring across the great southwest!


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Release Date:

3 January 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gefährliches Blut  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The real John Wesley Hardin was a vicious, remorseless killer who murdered at least 43 people, some from ambush, some shot in the back and one for snoring too loudly. The actual number of people he killed is still unknown. See more »


Mid-point in the film, as the wounded Hardin is being helped into hiding by his uncle, a two-trailer truck drives by in the background, clearly visible. See more »


John Wesley Hardin: I don't back up from any man unless he was my pa.
See more »


Featured in Rock Hudson's Home Movies (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

I never killed a man who didn't try to kill me first.
2 January 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Lawless Breed is directed by Raoul Walsh and written by William Alland (story) and Bernard Gordon (screenplay). It stars Rock Hudson, Julie Adams, John McIntire, Mary Castle, Hugh O'Brian and Dennis Weaver. Music is supervised by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by Irving Glassberg.

Story is based around the life of outlaw John Wesley Hardin (Hudson), itself adapted from his own memoirs. It finds Hardin released from jail and recounts his life outside of the law and his time on the run. It proclaims that Hardin was very much a victim of circumstance, his life spiralling out of control after killing a man in self defence.

OK, forget the proud boast from the makers that this is a true story, this is Hollywood and its best so take in the film as a piece of entertainment only. Where, in truth, it's rather good stuff for the Western fan to gorge on. A tacked on "happy ending" aside, this is mostly interesting narratively speaking, and as a production it is always easy on the eye. Hardin's time on the run throws up a number of scenes to pump the adrenalin, letting some fine stunt work come to the fore in the process. Be it escaping from "Texas Rangers" laid traps, or well constructed horse races (Hardin was a well renowned gambler), Raoul Walsh and his team work real hard to keep this out of B movie territory.

Shot in vivid Technicolor out of Andy Jauregui and Janss Conejo ranches in California (some exteriors also filmed at Vasquez Rocks), film always feels airy, something that's not exactly at one with what should be the claustrophobic feel of an outlaw constantly on the run and looking over his shoulder. There's also a big ask of the audience to accept that Hardin is pretty much indestructible, which is OK once or twice, but more?

However, the film is ultimately about entertainment and forgiving it its irritants is not hard to do. Character interactions always remain of interest, and cast are doing more than decent work. McIntire stands out in a dual role, Hudson is stoic and Adams beguiles with her beauty and sexuality. This is one of the better productions for bringing the radiant Adams to the attention of red blooded lusters. A better pair of legs in Westerns there is not, and in one scene she induces wolf whistles and heart palpitations in equal measure. With prolific Western scorer Gershenson providing easy listening and photographer Glassberg keeping the colours rich, The Lawless Breed rounds out as a better than average viewing experience for the Western buff. 7/10

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