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Gene Fowler Jr.
A young cowboy, whose dedication to the principles of peace and reason has earned him a reputation for cowardice, overcomes his psychological aversion to violence after his elder brother unjustly censures him for not joining in a foolhardy gunfight in which their youngest brother is killed. Written by
A mother and her three sons run a cattle ranch. At the same time, two of the brothers compete over the same girl, though one of the brothers appears cowardly.
Drama heavy western. Good thing that Universal went out and got some of the better young actors of the day which helps. Then too, there's Fred MacMurray, also a fine actor, but miscast as a 50-year old bother to both a 30-year old Hunter and Dean Stockwell at just 20 . At the same time, the supposed mother of the brood, Hutchinson, is only 5-years older than MacMurray and it shows. Too bad the screenplay couldn't make Will (MacMurray) the dad, but I guess that would have ruined the romance setup with the young Aud (Rule).
Anyway, the acting is good which helps the talky narrative go down, along with the excellent Technicolor photography. The movie's biggest problem, however, is the generally slow pacing that at times drags out the talky scenes long after we've gotten the idea. A brisker pace would have made the story more condensed and riveting. The elements of a good story are there. Is Bless (Hunter) a pacifist or a coward. People come to believe the latter. But if he's to win Aud and a share of the ranch he's got to show he can handle the challenges. But not in the hot-headed way of his younger brother Hade (Stockwell).
Note in the supporting cast the presence of the great Bob Steele who enlivened many a sagebrush matinée in his day. I hope he picked up a good paycheck. All in all, it's a decent western, a little heavy on the dramatics, but with a number of compensations.
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