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When this film was released in Brazil, a famous critic ranked it among the best films of the year (probably 1957). I would no go as far as that, but Star in the Dust is a B western with higher ambitions that partially achieves them. The story is about the sheriff who has to hang a killer Sam Hall (Richard Boone) before sundown. The cattlemen who probably hired the killer want to turn him loose, but the ranchers (the ones that were killed were ranchers), who have the local teacher as their leader want the hanging to go through. All the time there is a man singing a ballad about Sam Hall and it blends well with the film. Mamie Van Doren in an unusual role where she is not meant to be sexy is the sheriff's bride and also the sister of the banker and leader of the cattlemen. There is a constant betting going on where the odds that the hanging is not going to go through are much higher. The tension builds up very well, up to the crucial moment which is very convincing. A very similar story was used in another western "The Young Land"(1959), also with very good results.
This wasn't bad at all, apart from the fact that the sheriff must have
been naively optimistic in thinking that he, a deputy and an old-timer
could prevail against two different factions each consisting of a score
or so men; in the event, he leaves it far too late when it comes to
asking for outside help. And I thought both factions were somewhat
overheated about the situation.
There's a touch of "High Noon" about the film, in that the action takes place in a short time-span, with a clock occasionally showing what hour it is. In both films the sheriff doesn't have much support when it comes to conscientiously doing his duty.The suspense mounts through both films, though John Agar doesn't match Gary Cooper when it comes to re-acting to it.
I see from other comments that I'm not alone in finding the repetitive ballad-singer an irritation; I almost cheered when he dashed for cover during a shoot-out; what a pity he didn't get in the way of a bullet.
The best fight is between two women, one of whom ends up with blood on her, which is more than can be said for the men who get shot; they just clutch at unmarked shirts. And when someone gets knocked on the head it's out of camera shot, which I thought was a convention that had been done away with some years before the film was made.
Trivia fans may like to note that this is the second Western in which Delmonico's famous restaurant is mentioned in some Agar dialogue; Harry Carey jnr taunts him about eating there in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Showdown in Abilene" director Charles F. Haas' western "Star in the Dust" qualifies as routine in several respects and is largely predictable. This is the yarn about the lawman sworn to protect his murderous prisoner until he can slip a noose around his neck. Cowboy stalwart John Agar of "Fort Apache" stars as Sheriff Bill Jorden, the grim son of a sheriff determined to see justice carried out despite what his father would have done in similar circumstances. The desperado in his custody is Sam Hall (Richard Boone of "Man without a Star"), and he has been sentenced to swing for killing three men. The town of Gunlock, where Jorden wears the star, is divided between the opposing forces of ranchers and farmers. Roughly speaking, the Oscar Brodney screenplay, based on Leigh Leighton's novel, draws on the historical demise of Tom Horn. Haas isn't adept as building up tension, but he has assembled a sturdy cast, with a young Clint Eastwood walking on in one scene, about seven minutes into the action, to chat briefly with our hero. Paul Fix is excellent as Jorden's deputy, and career character actor James Gleason is lively as the man who built the gallows. The mystery behind everything that our badge-totting protagonist wants to resolve is the identity of the man who hired Hall. Obviously, Haas took some cues from the Gary Cooper classic "High Noon." Unfortunately, Haas isn't as adept at scaring up suspense the same way Fred Zinnemann did in "High Noon." Mamie Van Doren spices up the cast. "Star in the Dust" appears to have been lensed on the Universal Pictures' backlot. Production values are good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've just seen this film on TV, never heard of it before, but watched
it through because of 2 pleasant surprises. One, a "blink & you'll miss
him" appearance by a very young Clint Eastwood in one of the early
scenes. He's one of the characters that annoys the Sheriff by
commenting on it a being a "big day", i.e. Sam Hall's due to hang.
Also, Johnny Cash covered the song that runs throughout the movie on one of his last albums, American IV: The Man Comes Around. Its well worth a listen as its a much more raucous rendition than the one in the film & Johnny seems to take great pleasure in recounting Sam's evil deeds.
As to the movie, good, old fashioned B-movie & a pleasant way to pass a Saturday afternoon.
Star In The Dust is certainly an illusion to where Gary Cooper's
sheriff's badge wound up at the end of High Noon. But John Agar's star
never wound up there as he walks a fine line between homesteaders and
cattlemen in this rather grim Universal western.
Hired killer for the cattlemen Richard Boone is scheduled to hang at sundown. But Agar's facing a real problem. The homesteaders just want to lynch him before the appointed hour because the cattlemen are fixing to break him out. Agar would also like to find out who exactly hired Boone to intimidate the homesteaders. He did more than intimidate, he's hanging because he killed three of them.
Head of the cattlemen is Leif Erickson and his sister Mamie Van Doren is supposed to marry Agar. Boone has a girlfriend also in Coleen Gray, a plain Jane sort who never got any attention until Boone. Now she's ready to do anything for her man.
Terry Gilkyson, country singer and songwriter sings The Ballad of Sam Hall which is Boone's character and serves as a kind of Greek chorus to the events.
Though Agar's star never winds up in the dust, the film is a decent enough B western, grim and violent.
This seems to be yet another telling of the Tom Horn saga. In this incarnation, Sam Hall(Horn?)waits in jail and torments the sheriff, as various citizen groups attempt to break him out, for various, and obvious reasons. The minstrel, wandering, singing, and updating the plot for the viewers, becomes very annoying. Features an interesting, if not great cast, but the plot drags.
For a Western movie this was very boring and had very little going on.
There is no real plot and only a couple of muddled and drama-free
The movie is about some hit-man in a cell who is awaiting hanging for the killing of some cattleboys. The sheriff wants a peaceful hanging (!) without having to prove that he's as good a Sheriff as his father was. And a couple of other minor characters serve no purpose other than to complicate matters for petty reasons.
There are a few silly fight scenes that remind of the A-Team with the wooden furniture falling apart very easily. And, as always, there are embarrassingly fake fights in which there is no penetration seen or any
shown. Were there any R-rated movies in the 50's? But the most annoying thing about this movie is the songs but the 'singing narrator' who only ever uses the same tune but uses marginally different words each time. Ugh! If this is on TV on a Sunday afternoon miss it. Go out for a walk, even if it's raining.
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