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Stranger on Horseback (1955)

Approved | | Romance, Western | 23 March 1955 (USA)
A circuit judge in the old west attempts to bring a suspected killer to justice. The judge runs afoul of the killer's rich cattle baron father in the process.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Judge Richard 'Rick' Thorne
Amy Lee Bannerman
Tom Bannerman
Josiah Bannerman
Col. Buck Streeter
Caroline Webb
Sheriff Nat Bell
Arnold Hammer
Jaclynne Greene ...
Paula Morrison (as Jacklyn Green)
Vince Webb
Sam Kettering
Bannerman's Henchman

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A circuit judge in the old west attempts to bring a suspected killer to justice. The judge runs afoul of the killer's rich cattle baron father in the process.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thunder in the saddle ... greased lightning with his guns ... there never rode a man to match him ! See more »


Romance | Western


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 March 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Einer gegen alle  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


[After water's thrown in his face.]
Thorne: Thanks, it's a hot day.
Baddie: I don't like what you said.
Thorne: I said it was a hot day.
Baddie: Well, I don't like the way you said it.
See more »

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User Reviews

Man believes in a thing and he goes ahead.
5 October 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Stranger on Horseback is directed by Jacques Tourneur and adapted to screenplay by Herb Meadow and Don Martin from a story written by Louis L'Amour. It stars Joel McCrea, Miroslava Šternová, John McIntire, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Nancy Gates and Emile Meyer. Music is scored by Paul Dunlap and cinematography by Ray Rennahan.

Joel McCrea stars as Circuit Judge Richard Thorne, who rides into a town to find it is entirely owned by the Bannerman family, headed by Josiah Bannerman (McIntire). Initially only there to check over the town's books, it comes to light that Josiah's son Tom (McCarthy) has killed a man in cold blood under the guise of self defence and never been brought to trial. Thorne arrests him, and in a town of few friends, sets about staying alive long enough to ensure Tom Bannerman does indeed go to trial.

A mighty unusual judge, Sir.

Clocking in at just 66 minutes long, Stranger on Horseback is very much a quintessential B Western. Filmed in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, picture makes the most of having McCrea in the lead. Where many of the other characters are drawn as standard Western fodder, McCrea really gives a characterisation that is easy to jump on board with. He is like a one man army, but he doesn't need to go all guns blazing, he has his law book and his wits, he knows how to charm the ladies, he is tough and throws a good punch, but he mellows to give a child a silver dollar. He is a man that men want to be and a man that the women want to wed. It's meat and drink for McCrea, with straight back and piercing eyes, his shoulders packing some brawn, it is he that is primarily the reason why the film is so enjoyable.

The story is simple and played out as such, with echoes of High Noon and the like. Friendless man of the badge has to go it alone to ensure what is right is actually achieved. Along the way people will be either hurt or awakened from their stupors, enemies confronted, a lover gained and a finale plays out when it all comes together in a triumphant whirl of machismo. Tourneur and Rennahan ensure the second half of the picture is picturesque, the characters finally out in the open and framed wonderfully against the vistas, while the writers come up with a couple of nifty turn of events to keep the narrative interesting. Away from McCrea the fun turn comes from Carradine, while McIntire and Meyer are as reliable as ever. McCarthy is passable as a Western weasel and Miroslava, who would sadly commit suicide the same year of the film's release, turns up and with a sexy glint in her eye and manages to say her lines correctly.

It's not pushing the boat out or trying to redirect the direction of the 50s Western, but it's one of the more enjoyable B Westerns from that decade. McCrea and Rennahan ensure that is the case. 7.5/10

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