As a man returns home to see his dying father, the story of the alienation between father and son is told in flashback. Purposely letting his daughter's lover get lynched, shooting the ... See full summary »
As a man returns home to see his dying father, the story of the alienation between father and son is told in flashback. Purposely letting his daughter's lover get lynched, shooting the lynched man's father when he threatens him with a gun, and the bullying tactics used by him as a Sheriff causes the son to leave. The son now plans to ruin his father and get his Sheriff's badge removed. Written by
Maurice VanAuken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1957 was just about the peak year for Westerns on TV and the theater screen. In fact, there was almost enough phony gunsmoke floating around to blot out the sun and maybe a few stars. Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but it's small wonder that a worthy little effort like this got lost in the six-gun crowd. Looks to me like a large-scale story done on a small-scale budget with a number of aging yet very skillful players. Never mind that dad Bond is only 3 years older than "son" Cotton or that Lindfors looks about as Indian as I do. When you've got Bond heading up the cast as a stubborn old patriarch and town sheriff, you've got the makings of strong drama. And a strong drama it is with Cotton feuding with Dad over the race mixing going on over at JC Flippen's place. Worse, Bond's daughter has eyes for Flippen's half- breed son, while Cotton's taking a fancy to the half-Indian daughter, Lindfors. At the same time, crusty old patriarch Bond insists on family tradition and, by golly, that doesn't include anyone who was there on the rock to meet the Pilgrims. Now all sorts of trouble are brewing since Bond not only represents family but the law as well.
I suspect that if you dig into the screenplay a little, you can come up with a political allegory that reflects deeper social movements of the time. Be that as it may, the story is big enough and the cast strong enough to warrant much better production values than what we get. Too bad, the filming was limited to the ugly scrublands around LA. This is a package that needs a scale of landscape to match the scale of the story, which apparently was more than the independent producers could afford. It looks like sacrifices had to be made and it was setting more than cast or story that was sacrificed. Anyway, the contest of wills between father and son remains explosive, even though the racial theme has lost cutting edge to the years. In passingnote how we're never shown Cotton actually committing the harassing acts he resorts to, like burning the water tower, or scattering the bank papers. Instead, he's shown skulking around the site. My guess is that was so the audience would not turn against this sympathetic character, even though he commits questionable acts. All in all, it's a good chance to see some fine actors doing their thing, including the often overlooked Betsy Blair.
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