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Silver Lode (1954)

Approved | | Western | 23 July 1954 (USA)
Dan Ballard, a respected citizen in the western town of Silver Lode, has his wedding interrupted by four men led by Ned McCarthy, an old acquaintance who, as a US Marshal, arrests Ballard ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Dolores Moran ...
Emile Meyer ...
Sheriff Wooley
Robert Warwick ...
Judge Cranston
John Hudson ...
Michael 'Mitch' Evans
Frank Sully ...
Paul Herbert, Telegrapher
Morris Ankrum ...
Hugh Sanders ...
Florence Auer ...
Mrs. Elmwood
Roy Gordon ...
Dr. Elmwood


Dan Ballard, a respected citizen in the western town of Silver Lode, has his wedding interrupted by four men led by Ned McCarthy, an old acquaintance who, as a US Marshal, arrests Ballard for the murder of his brother and the theft of $20,000. Ballard seeks to stall McCarthy while tracking down evidence that will prove his innocence: but the townspeople's loyalty to him gradually begins to waver under McCarthy's accusations. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


WHEN THEY GRIP THEIR GUNS...YOU'LL GRIP YOUR SEAT! Revenge erupts into a frantic man-hunt...in this compelling picture of the Pioneer West! (original ad sheet) See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 July 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stadt der Verdammten  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the McCarthyism, political messages are usually cloaked in metaphors: for example, the name of the villain is Ned McCarty. See more »


When Ballard hides near a haystack outside the Evans house, his shadow and the shadows of his pursuers fall on to the painted backdrop, revealing it as canvas and not a real landscape. See more »

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User Reviews

July 4th and the town of Silver Lode is about to be defined.
20 November 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Silver Lode is directed by Allan Dwan and written by Karen DeWolf. It stars John Payne, Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Dolores Moran and Emile Meyer. Music is by Louis Forbes and cinematography by John Alton.

Dan Ballard (Payne) is a respected resident of the town Silver Lode, but on his wedding day Marshal Fred McCarty (Duryea) rolls into town looking to arrest him, accusing him of having murdered the Marshal's brother. The townsfolk refuse to accept the charge and stand up for Dan, and Dan loudly protests his innocence, but once suspicious mud is thrown it begins to stick and soon Dan finds himself running out of friends and is forced to prove his innocence.

Two things always pop up when the film Silver Lode is spoke about, one is its similarities to High Noon, the other is its veiled allegory of Senator McCarthy and his witch hunts. These are two things which are hard to ignore, though as a "British" lover of Westerns myself, the McCarthy politico aspect doesn't really resonate, but Silver Lode deserves to primarily be known for being the damn fine Western that it is.

Fickle mob rule and knee jerk reactions drive Silver Lode forward, it's a thematic powder keg ignited with some skill by the prolific Dwann. Aided by the supremely talented Alton, Dwann achieves so much mood and tension from a small town set up, this is never dealing in expansive vistas, its primary goal is to suffocate Dan Ballard. Where once was freedom and love, now is a place closing in on him, with the story moving into a noir realm as Dan becomes a man whose past is proving to be inescapable, while fate, another big noir ingredient, has a big part in proceedings as events conspire to make Dan seem more of a guilty man the harder he tries to prove his innocence.

It's a lean and mean screenplay, devoid of filler and characterisations are colourful. Payne makes for a good put upon hero, his Dan Ballard as written is stoic and tough, and resilience needs to be his middle name. Duryea does another in his great line of weasels, and here he is wonderfully cloaked in suspicion from the off. Tagging behind him are his three equally suspicious cohorts played by Stuart Whitman, Alan Hale Junior and Harry Carey Junior, while the upstanding town elders (Sheriff, Judge, Reverend) have time to make a mark before the fragile nature of small town justice begins to take a hold and the clock ticks down on Dan Ballard's life.

Most impressive is the influence on the story of the lady characters, so often a token interest in the B Westerns of the 50s. Deftly perched on either side of Ballard, the femmes are key characters in the piece. Rose Evans (Scott) is virtuous, brightly attired in white, she's the town sweetheart who Dan is set to marry, the question is will her loyalty to Dan remain? Dolly (Moran giving the best performance in the film and getting all the best lines) is a slinky saloon gal, in purple frills and with a tongue as sharp as a scorpion's sting, she still carries a torch for the unobtainable Dan.

Alton's colour photography is most appealing but we don't see the best of his work until the finale inside the town church. With clever use of light, shadows and colour enhancements, Alton is able to sum up the whole tone of the story in this segment. As for if the finale is worth the wait? It is but it's a little mischievous. Certainly it's interesting, a quirk of fate again playing a hand as two men do battle in the church bell tower. But there's a religious angle dropped into the narrative and I'm at a loss as to why that would be the case? Still, it's a very small irritant, for this is a cracker of a Western, a lesson in achieving big things from such small beginnings. 8.5/10

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