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A stranger comes to town looking for his estranged wife. He finds her running the local girls. He also finds a town and sheriff afraid of their own shadow, scared of a landowner they never see who rules through his rowdy sidekicks. The stranger is a town tamer by trade, and he accepts a $500 commission to sort things out. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Directorial debut of writer Richard Wilson. See more »
Just how does he operate?
Marshal Lee Sims:
Well, Dade's a fat man, but don't let that fool ya. Never lifts a pudgy finger himself. You take yesterday for example - just a typical day in Dade's life. He cut himself a piece out of a trail herd that was passing through, then he roughed up the new mine workers over Meadow Creek way, then he tried to grab young Jeff Castle's homesite and then, I bet ya, he divied up the gold dust they took off that poor dead miner over at the Palace. Nothin's too small or mean for ...
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Clint Tollinger arrives in a small western town looking for his estranged wife, who left him and now runs the local show saloon. His presence is greeting by suspicion but when the town leaders discover the nature of Tollinger's business they propose that they employ him to clean up the town of the problem of Dade Holman's violent influence. The solution may be just as bad as the problem but they take the risk.
With a nice dark character with a lot of anger and pain in the front of the film this western is enjoyable tough. Although the plot is fairly typical of a western b-movie, the tone and edge to it means that it comes over as much more. The basic story sees Tollinger taking on the rule of Holman but it has undercurrents of pain and anger as the lead confronts his wife. We meet Tollinger as a gentle, quiet man but gradually we see him to be violent, heartless and full of bitterness; it is solid development that is at the heart of the film's dark tone. Of course it still follows the genre traditions and will appeal to fans of such while also having enough else going on to make it differ from the Technicolor westerns of the same period.
Wilson is responsible for the dark tone as both writer and director; shot is stark black and white he frames some interesting shots and is not afraid to be aggressive or shocking considering the period. Mitchum takes to his character well and always seemed to enjoy the darker more complex characters that some of his westerns would serve him up with. Sterling does well with her firm character until near the end where she becomes more of a genre staple. Support behind these two is roundly good but the film is very much Mitchum's and he knows it.
Overall it is a solid western that gradually gets down to just going where you expect it to. However for the vast majority it has a dark tone and feel to it that makes it much more interesting and more likely to appeal beyond the limitations of those that like the colourful b-movie westerns of the period.
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