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Probably the most distinguishing feature about this "B" western is the choice of names for the characters. One of the leading men is named Stacey, the leading lady is named Brett and their Native American adversary is named Chief Mike! Montgomery plays a zero-tolerence, by-the-book Major who comes to an Oregon fort with orders to solve the Indian problem. There have been skirmishes back and forth across the title river and he's been given instructions to end the conflict, one way or another, to pave the way for Oregon statehood. (It does complicate matters that his orders from headquarters change on a dime!) Denning is the head of a civilian militia who is also heavily involved in the fighting. Both men have their eye on a Sergeant's daughter (Hyer) who has a mind of her own. Finally, some misunderstanding and manipulation leads to a final stand off between the Cavalry and the Indians. There isn't a lot that's particularly special about this film, one of dozens of this kind, but it does entertain and is brief enough not to drag much. Montgomery is handsome, stalwart and charming, even through his icy exterior. Hyer is spirited and flirtatious. Crawford looks as if he's going to have a decent role (and it's great to see him looking young and handsome), but it only goes so far before he's lost in the shuffle. The Indians, aside from Granger as the Chief, don't come off as particularly authentic or menacing. At least the dialogue has a few decent lines. Other films have covered this territory better, but it's not a bad time killer. Directed by infamous showman William Castle just prior to his horror spree, it's a wonder audiences didn't get a clamp that looks like an arrow went through their head with each paid admission!
12 O'Clock High Meets Virginia City in Castle-directed "B" programmer. George Montgomery is adequately tight-lipped as non-nonsense Major taking over failed outpost. Richard Denning gives a marvelously multi-dimensional performance as Stacey Wyatt, as militia leader with a hidden agenda. John Crawford adds an interesting interpretation of the Hugh-Marlowe-type role of reformed reprobate. Martha Hyer provides eye candy and adds a bit of sass to boot. Good, clean, fast, and unchallenging fun.
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