The Desperado (1954)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  20 June 1954 (USA)
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From 1870 to 1873, Texas suffered under the carpetbag administration of reconstructionist Governor E. J. Davis (the name and the stated conditions was about the last of anything authentic ... See full summary »



(novel), (as Geoffrey Homes)
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Complete credited cast:
Sam Garrett
Jimmy Lydon ...
Tom Cameron (as James Lydon)
Laurie Bannerman
Rayford Barnes ...
Ray Novak
U.S. Marshal Jim Langley
Nestor Paiva ...
Captain Jake Thornton
Martin Novack
John Dierkes ...
Police Sergeant
Richard Shackleton ...
Pat Garner
Mr. Garner (as Stanford Jolley)
Richard Garland ...
Trooper (as Charles Garland)
Florence Lake ...
Mrs. Cameron


From 1870 to 1873, Texas suffered under the carpetbag administration of reconstructionist Governor E. J. Davis (the name and the stated conditions was about the last of anything authentic in this film) and his despotic state police commanded in John's City by Captain Jake Thornton. Two young men, Tall Cameron and Ray Novack flee to the Big Bend area to escape persecution. Ray pretends to be Tall's friend but actually hates him because he is madly jealous that Laura Bannerman is to become Tall's wife. They join forces with Sam Garrett, a killer with a price on his head. Ray tries to kill Garret to collect the reward, but Tall saves Garrett's life and Ray flees back to John's City, where he is taken prisoner. Ray kills Thornton and another trooper but Tall is blamed for the crimes. Garrett can clear him, but will he? Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ALL BAD! ALL KILLER! (original print ad - all caps) See more »








Release Date:

20 June 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apospasma aftoktonias  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The same script, derived from a novel by Clifton Adams and screen-written by Daniel Mainwaring, was used four years later for "Cole Younger, Gunfighter." Silvermine Productions made the original, which was distributed by Allied Artists Pictures. Allied both produced and distributed the new film themselves in 1958. See more »


Sam Garrett: A fella in my boots can't go liking anybody... and stay alive. You start worrying about somebody else and you forget about yourself.
See more »


Remade as Cole Younger, Gunfighter (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

Blue Bellies Go Home!
16 August 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Desperado is directed by Thomas Carr and adapted to screenplay by Geoffrey Holmes from the novel written by Clifton Adams. It stars Wayne Morris, Jimmy Lydon, Beverly Garland, Rayford Barnes, Dabbs Greer and Lee Van Cleef. Music is by Raoul Kraushaar and cinematography by Joseph Novak.

"There is one dark and grim page in Texas history; it concerns the three years 1870 to 1873, during which Texans suffered and smouldered under the carpetbag administration of Governor E.J. Davis. Texas law was administered and enforced by a despotic organisation called the Texas State police - - known as the "Bluebellies." Constitutional rights were ignored - - such as the right to keep and bear arms, the right to have public meetings, private property rights and most of the other expressions of human dignity and freedom of which Texas has always been so rightfully proud. Naturally they did something about it..."

For the whole of its 80 minutes running time, The Desperado crams as much in as it possibly can, producing a mightily strong Western in the process. Stripping it down to the core the story is about a good man forced to turn bad, who does bad things in the name of correcting the wrongs done to him. He's forced to go on the run with a man he can't stand, leaving the woman he loves behind. Hooking up with a famed outlaw, he learns how to become a killer, but always the screenplay has us completely on his side, all while the finer details back in his home town build the other half of the story.

A man does his own killing.

His time on the run sees a friendship formed, with camp fire bondings prominent, while his backbone is continually tested by certain encounters. The narrative twists and turns to build a compelling case, the odds are firmly stacked against him as a dastardly acquaintance with an ulterior motive moves and shakes to ruin his life. The backdrop is one of bully boy law enforcement and big political change, of a place full of weasels, cowards, liars and idiots, marking this out as a film very dark in nature.

Don't put faith in anybody but yourself.

Violence and action is never far away either, as director Carr keeps things lively, and Novak's black and white photography is sparkling (TCM hold a lovely print). The acting is hardly grade "A" stuff, but the principal players turn in very effective shows. Morris owns the film as the wise and weary outlaw Sam Garrett, a role you can tell he is very much enjoying playing, while the beautiful Garland works really hard to make her love interest character more than a token offering - and she succeeds. Bonus for Oater fans is Van Cleef popping in for some dramatic impact, where he plays twins! Wonderful.

This is very much an under seen film, and personally I'm a little proud to be able to put out on the internet what appears to be the first non professional review. It's different to the usual Wayne Morris fare and I'm convinced that Western lovers who like some dark tints in their films would heartily enjoy this one. See it if you get chance! 8/10

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