Virgil Renchler owns most of the town providing a thriving economy. When his men go too far and kill one of his migrant workmen, the sheriff goes after him even if it means his job and everyone else's.
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a bit of a departure for its time, this movie begins with a brief pre-credits sequence, and it delays some of its credits till the very end. (During these closing credits, music is played which was also used in "It Came from Outer Space.")
Aside from these minor touches, however, "Man in the Shadow" is a traditional, straightforward effort which would have once fitted unobtrusively into the bottom half of a double-bill. By 1957, however, these "B" movies were rapidly being replaced by TV programming and "Man in the Shadow" could easily have been converted into a one-hour television drama. The script might have been edited down by eliminating the role of Orson Welles' teenage daughter who only figures tangentially into the plot and who does not provide any "romantic interest" for Jeff Chandler since his character is already happily married.
The plot is one of those "politically correct" affairs about the small-town lawman standing up against a powerful citizen in defense of a racial-minority member. The lawman's urged by his family and friends to leave well enough alone but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
You might expect here one of Orson Welles' flamboyant (a.k.a. "hammy") performances but he's surprisingly restrained due, one suspects, simply to lack of interest in such a minor project. Jeff Chandler, amazingly enough, seems more compelling, and in the movie's most memorable moment he's dragged by his wrists down Main Street, sometimes on his belly, behind a pick-up truck.
Jack Arnold directed this movie competently but without distinctive touches in a series of standard expository scenes. It pales in comparison to his other 1957 movie, "The Incredible Shrinking Man."
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