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In effect, modern cow town Spurline is run by Virgil Renchler, owner of the Golden Empire Ranch. One night, two of Virgil's henchmen go a little too far and beat a "bracero" ranch hand to death. Faced with an obvious cover-up and opposition on every hand, sheriff Ben Sadler is goaded into investigating. His unlikely ally: Renchler's lovely, self-willed and overprotected daughter. Will Ben survive Renchler's wrath? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
With the debate over illegal immigration and the concern that it is mostly coming from south of the American border, Man in the Shadow is a film that has assumed a serious relevance for us today.
Jeff Chandler is the sheriff of a small southwestern town and a Mexican migrant worker, Martin Garralaga, has brought news of a homicide committed by white ranch hands on the property of his employer Orson Welles. It seems that a young Mexican was paying to much attention to Welles's daughter, Colleen Miller, and Welles wanted to teach him the error of his ways. Of course Leo Gordon and John Larch go too far and now a murder has to be covered up.
It becomes two murders when witness Garralaga also turns up dead. Though Welles and his Golden Empire Ranch have a stranglehold on the local economy and the town's leading citizens beg Chandler not to pursue the case, Chandler doggedly goes ahead anyway. He's the sheriff and it's his duty.
Chandler in this modern western is a standup straight arrow sheriff in the mold of Gary Cooper or John Wayne. He takes his oath of office quite seriously. And what happens to him during the course of the investigation makes the townspeople want to re-examine just how much they want to kowtow to Welles and his hired thugs.
Mario Siletti, the town barber and one of the few who backs Chandler without reservation, puts it best in that his father fled from a guy who was running Italy in the Twenties the same way Welles was running this corner of the USA.
Orson Welles just by his appearance in what is a B picture lent enormous prestige to it. This was one of those acting jobs he did trying to earn money to finance his own projects. But Welles never gave less than 100% of himself in anything he did. His portrait of a malevolent Ben Cartwright is a great piece of work.
Man in the Shadow played the bottom of double features in the Fifties, but those who saw it were not disappointed.
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