In the sparsely populated town of Arborville, California, rides a lone stranger.His name is Joe Dakota and he's looking for an old friend whom he calls The Old Indian.The townsfolk claim the Old Indian had packed up and left town but Joe doubts it.Heading for the old man's farm Joe notices a group of men working on a new oil rig dug right on The Old Indian's property.When Joe starts asking questions about his old friend,the men either clam up or state that the old Indian has sold his land and left town.However,Joe Dakota knew his friend well and is sure that his friend wouldn't have sold his land.Joe decides to stick around and investigate further, despite protests from the townsfolk who want to see the back of Joe.Amid threats,intimidation and lies Joe makes one new friend, Miss Jody Weaver, who is willing to shed some light on The Old Indian's fate. Nevertheless, town baddie Cal Moore, who claims to have purchased The Old Indian's land, is stirring the townsfolk against Joe Dakota. Written by
A mysterious stranger (Mahoney) comes to town asking after the whereabouts of former resident Joe Dakota. Townsfolk are not very obliging, which seems to have something to do with a recently drilled oil well and who owns it.
The movie year 1957 was saturated with westerns. This one tries to be different, and largely succeeds. Notice that no onenot even arch-movie villains Van Cleef or Akinssports a six- gun. And, unless I missed something, not even a single shot is fired. Add to that an oil well, of all things, plus a woebegone little prairie town that's definitely not a studio set, and you've got a different looking western.
Then too, the first part manages some pretty good low-key humor; at the same time, Mahoney gets an oil bath, courtesy the townsfolk, that leaves him looking like a human inkblot. For a western, however, there's not much action and none of the usual suspense of good-guy vs. bad-guy showdown. And truth be told, the basic plot is borrowed from 1955's mega-hit Bad Day at Black Rock. But the writers have added enough clever twists and turns to keep the viewer entertained. All in all, it's an interesting, if not very intense, little western.
(In passingI checked to see if the oil well was an anachronism for this time period. It's not. The first well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859. Also, note that William Tallman who played the DA on the old Perry Mason series is one of the two screenwriters here.)
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