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After three years on the run, Jim Guthrie returns with the scar of a rope burn on his neck. In flashback we learn how he was framed for murder but then escaped from the lynch mob just as he was about to be hung. Tired of running, he has returned to find the real killer and the Sheriff has given him just three hours to do it. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
"The Ox-Bow Incident," a tragedy about lynching in the Old West, helped make Dana Andrews a star. "Three Hours to Kill," a little Western mystery he made after his stardom cooled, is not nearly as grim (or as good), but it is fairly gritty and it holds your interest.
Andrews plays a cowboy who's framed for murder and almost lynched. He escapes with only a rope burn on his neck thanks to the help of his true love, played by Donna Reed. A few years later, as a fugitive, he returns to town to solve the crime and clear his name -- and he gets three hours to do it. (The circumstances of this are a bit complicated.)
Things become really tricky when the former sweethearts cross paths again. It turns out they've got serious issues, the kind that were not often addressed in "B" Westerns in the 1950s.
"Three Hours" is pleasingly fast-paced, wrapping up in well under half the time in the title. It keeps you guessing, which is the most important job of a whodunit, and it even has a couple of surprises after the mystery is solved. Not great, but good if you have a little time of your own to kill.
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