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Watching The Black Whip I saw elements of Key Largo, Suddenly, and Rawhide in this independent film released by 20th Century Fox. It was a decent if not outstanding mix.
One of four saloon girls Coleen Gray, Angie Dickinson, Dorothy Schuyler, and Adele Mara put on a veil and sprung a prisoner, a member of the notorious black legs, former Confederate raiders who learned their trade under Quantrill and now operate on their own. The sheriff puts them in a wagon driven by Strother Martin and says dump them anywhere someone will have them. Not so easy as word gets out, no one wants to mess with Black Legs.
But time and circumstance force them to a stagecoach station in a ghost town operated by Hugh Marlowe and brother Richard Gilden. The Black Legs arrive soon enough and hold them hostage.
The leader is Paul Richards who has some plans of his own, he's not at the stagecoach station by chance. He and Marlowe have some history which makes the waiting interesting.
This is where the title comes from. Richards doesn't even carry a gun. He carries The Black Whip and he's pretty deadly with it. Somehow getting a whipping in many ways is worse than getting killed by a fast draw. Elements of sadism present here in abundance. Even Lash LaRue carried a pistol as well.
Richards is a fascinating villain. He played many a villainous part in his career, some with a touch of madness about them. He had a southern accent that was part of his working equipment as a player. He uses it well here and also in the Alan Ladd-Sidney Poitier film All The Young Men, a war film set in Korea where he plays a bigoted southern redneck resenting Sidney Poitier put in charge of the squad.
The Black Whip is an OK western, but for Paul Richards a career role.
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