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The Violent Men (1955)

Approved | | Western | January 1955 (USA)
A Union ex-officer plans to sell up to Anchor Ranch and move east with his fiancee, but the low price offered by Anchor's crippled owner and the outfit's bully-boy tactics make him think ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (based upon a novel by)

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Complete credited cast:
John Parrish
Lew Wilkison
Judith Wilkison
Cole Wilkison
Caroline Vail
Jim McCloud
Tex Hinkleman
Wade Matlock
Sheriff Magruder
Sheriff Martin Kenner
Harry Shannon ...


A Union ex-officer plans to sell up to Anchor Ranch and move east with his fiancee, but the low price offered by Anchor's crippled owner and the outfit's bully-boy tactics make him think again. When one of his hands is murdered he decides to stay and fight, utilising his war experience. Not all is well at Anchor with the owner's wife carrying on with his brother who anyway has a Mexican moll in town. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>, corrected by Michael Morrison

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


VOLCANIC! VALIANT! VICIOUS! Violence and Passion the Screen Has Seldom Seen!




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

January 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Bandits  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)| (Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?


'Edward G. Robinson' may seem oddly cast in a western, but he was a rush replacement for 'Broderick Crawford' who early on in shooting fell off his horse and was injured. Robinson would later appear in the western Cheyenne Autumn (1964), this time replacing the ill Spencer Tracy who had to bail out. See more »


The previous comment is totally incorrect as if you notice the daughter is wearing her gloves when inside the house arguing with her father. Then when she is leaving she grabs her hat from a stand next to the door and leaves. See more »


Judith Wilkison: I know you think you're doing right but there's no right to bully.
See more »


Referenced in Trumbo (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

Extremely Entertaining but Really Rushed
22 March 2006 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

Extremely entertaining mid-1950's western that packs a whole lot into just a 96-minute running time. Most viewers will quickly get drawn into this story and will find the experience quite enjoyable. More than just a B-Western but not really an epic, the budget was modest and the cast affordable despite several big names. Glenn Ford was the only box office draw at the time. Edward G. Robinson and Barbara Stanwyck were past their primes and looking for work, Stanwyck was 10 years away from a new popularity in "The Big Valley". Brian Keith and Dianne Foster were just starting out.

Ford plays John Parrish, a small rancher who decides to sell out when the sympathetic sheriff is murdered by the big rancher's (Robinson) hired gunman. Parrish is a former Confederate officer who only moved out west for health reasons.

Robinson plays Lee Wilkison, who already owns most of the valley and intends to acquire the rest, making good on a promise to his wife Martha (Stanwyck). Lee was crippled in a land war he fought 12 years earlier; his brother Cole (Keith) has come up from Texas to help him run the huge spread. Lee has been turning a blind eye to obvious hookups between Stanwyck and Keith but sensitive daughter Judith (Foster) is understandably upset by what is going on in their home.

John Parrish has promised his fiancée Caroline (May Winn) that he will move back east. Caroline, who is modeled on Grace Kelly's "High Noon" character, breaks off the engagement at the first sign of trouble and simply disappears from the film. This leaves the way open for a John and Judith romance to develop.

The violence starts early and continues throughout the film, with Parrish able to apply military tactics against an enemy who underestimates his ability and determination. He has a very original confrontation with the main gunfighter about midway into the film. Ford plays one of his standard characters; the modest guy who disarms everyone with a self- deprecating manner, who is slow to take offense but brutal when finally provoked (very much like his role in "The Sheepman").

Robinson is likewise excellent as a man who maintains his personal integrity even though physically just a shadow of his former self. And he gets enough lines and screen time to adequately develop his character.

Stanwyck has the most difficult role and she is simply not convincing as the classic two-faced woman, a seemingly loyal wife who is scheming to replace her husband with his brother. In part this is because she is not allocated enough time to do anything more than superficially convey either side of the character. That said, a talented actress could have done a much better job even with these limitations.

Dianne Foster is a pleasant surprise. She should remind viewers a lot of Carroll Baker, both physically and in acting style. Although required to play Judith according to 1950's convention (she is allowed to be tough but then required to break into hysterics after each major confrontation), Foster shows a nice range. She conveys a growing attraction for Parrish but does it so subtly that it is only in retrospect that the various clues click into place.

The real problem with "The Violent Men" is that it tries to be both an action western and a character study morality play. Because so much has to happen on the screen much of the action is rushed and many of the characters get only a cursory treatment. This is neither fatal flaw nor a reason to avoid the film, but it could have been significantly better with another 20 minutes of running time or the absence of unnecessary characters like Caroline.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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