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Herbert L. Strock
When his life is saved in a shootout by a fellow gunman whose life he in turn had saved, Alex Longmire promises to give up his way of life. Riding into town he finds the only job available is deputy to sheriff Jade Murphy, an honest man caught between small farmers and a local cattle baron. And he has a pretty daughter. So Longmire decides to stay and see if he can use his expertise with firearms for good. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
In the 1950's, Universal was cranking out these Audie Murphy and Rory Calhoun Technicolor oaters at a furious pace. Calhoun gets his turn here. He may not manage Murphy's hard-eyed stare, but he does well enough in the grim determination department. Then too, this feature was fortunate to get Jack Arnold away from mutant creatures long enough to lend the proceedings his cut-above-average direction.
So, can ex-gunslinger Calhoun stay away from guns long enough to keep his promise to dying buddy Millican. Notably, this was the latter's final film, and movie veteran Millican departs on a particularly poignant note, rare for any Western, A or B. Anyway, Calhoun has good intentions, but there're always the baddies who've got other ideas. Here, the pudgy but agile Westerfield naturally wants all the land, not just some, and Sheriff Jagger is not quite up to handling his gun-toting crew. So guess who he hires as deputy. Plus the sheriff's comely blonde daughter (Hyer) helps Calhoun make up his mind, despite his earlier promise.
Now Calhoun can handle heavyweight Westerfield as their surprisingly acrobatic barroom brawl shows. But can he handle professional gunslinger Williams (Swann), who appears to have been born with a perpetual sneer. This is Calhoun's real test, after which maybe he can at last keep his promise. But then Swann is one sly gunman. Here Williams goes against type since he usually plays a good guy. But the sneer is a good touch and speaks volumes.
All in all, it's a good little Western even if it never leaves greater LA (Thousand Oaks). Thanks to Arnold, however, the pace never drags, plus there's Millican's truly moving performance, worthy I think of at least a sagebrush Oscar.
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