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A New Mexico Town Marshal, Clay Morgan, known as 'Black Patch' since he had lost an eye in the Civil War, takes his job seriously, especially after an old friend, Hank Danner, arrives in town with his wife, Helen, who formerly loved Morgan. Danner is suspected of a bank robbery and Morgan has to arrest him. Crooked saloon-owner , "Frenchy' De Vere, sees a chance to get the bank loot, and he helps Danner escape and then kills him. Morgan is accused of the killing but nothing is proved and the bank money remains missing. Carl, a young man who Danner had helped, goes to Helen, who also thinks Morgan killed her husband, and gets Danner's gun and starts practicing with it until he becomes the fastest-gun in town, with one possible exception...Morgan, the man he intends to kill. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
He lost his eye, his woman, but he will not lose his dignity!
Black Patch is directed by Allen H. Miner and written by Leo Gordon. It stars George Montgomery, Diane Brewster, Tom Pittman, Leo Gordon, Strother Martin and Sebastian Cabot
A veteran of the Civil War, Clay Morgan (Montgomery), minus an eye, decided not to return to his home town and started afresh in Santa Rita, New Mexico. Working as the town marshal, and keeping very good order, his equilibrium is upset when an old friend and his wife arrive in town. When news comes about a bank robbery in a nearby town, it signals the start of events that will see Clay forced into dark corners
Sometimes a Western fan will stumble upon a movie and wonder why it isn't better known. Black Patch is one such Oater, which in the grand scheme of things is criminal. More so when you consider the cast list, the cinematographer and the musical scorer (it was Goldsmith's first movie score and his fans will spot the early strains of some future work).
Beautifully photographed through a black and white film noir filter, Black Patch is big on mood. Be it oppressive as Miner works wonders within the confines of the Monogram Ranch locale, or psychologically pungent as the principal players battle their hang-ups and heartaches, there is not a single frame in the picture that isn't laced with adult Western textures.
The characters are presented with emotional depth, not as some Western shoot-out roll call of cannon fodder. The romantic angle is nicely etched, never cloying the story but adding to the bubbling enigma of the human condition. Gordon writes himself a good part, but he isn't interested in writing a Yee-Haw Good Guys Vs Bad Guys genre piece, there's a lot of interesting characters here who are all damaged or hurting in one way or another.
Having Montgomery in the lead helps, he was always a real good brooder, and he does it with considerable pathos here, and with Colman (Walk a Crooked Mile) and Miner (The Ride Back) favouring film noir techniques, Monty is often framed in classic noirish style. Brewster (The Young Philladelphians) blends both sultry with sincere regret, Cabot (Terror in a Texas Town) has a good old time of it as the town weasel, while young Pittman (The Proud Rebel) gives his young character the requisite pangs of confusion as he tries to make sense of everything around him.
This is very much one for the psychological adult Western crowd, not one for those who prefer stunts and fights every ten minutes. It has a few faltering moments, such as a turn of events involving the Pittman and Brewster characters, but this particular black patch is actually gold for the like minded adult Western fan. 8/10
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