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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Universal International's MAN IN THE SHADOW is a modestly entertaining
thriller! Produced in 1957 by Albert Zugsmith it was adequately written
for the screen by Gene L. Coon and was crisply photographed in black &
white Cinemascope by Arthur E. Arling. Also known as "Pay The Devil" it
was directed in a fine workmanlike fashion by the king of the B movies
Jack Arnold. Now the picture has just recently been released on DVD in
a splendid and sparkling widescreen transfer which in itself is
something of a surprise since the movie isn't that well known or that
well appreciated. But one could suspect that the reason for its DVD
appearance is the presence in the cast of the great Orson Welles who
takes second billing to the picture's star Jeff Chandler. Welles' part
in the movie isn't very distinguished. In fact it isn't distinguished
at all and could have been played by any one of a dozen Hollywood
character actors such as Charles Bickford, Robert Middleton, George
MacReady etc. One could further suspect that Welles took up the
assignment simply to woo Universal so they would back him the following
year when it came to producing his masterpiece "Touch Of Evil".
Whatever the reason the great actor here just chews up every bit of
scenery there is and acts the socks off everyone around him.
Spurline is a quiet little modern cow town in the south west were nothing really very much happens until one day the local sheriff Ben Sadler (Jeff Chandler) gets a complaint from an old Mexican farm hand (Martin Carralaga) that his young friend and co-worker, at The Golden Empire ranch where they both work, has been beaten to death by two of the ranch foremen (John Larch and Leo Gordan). The Golden Empire is a ranch of gargantuan proportions - "Why sheriff there are some countries in Europe not as big as this ranch" stoutly declares its owner the powerful Virgil Renchler (Orson Welles) who doesn't take too kindly to Sadler when he comes to see him about the young farm hand's death. He threatens and intimidates him and not only that but the town council also want Sadler to cease his investigation so as not to compromise Renchler's investments in the town. But Sadler is not for turning and continues to probe resulting in two attempts on his life. The picture ends when after been dragged through the streets of Spurline on the end of a rope a badly beaten Ben Sadler arms himself and with no one to help him goes to The Golden Empire to arrest Renchler and his cohorts. But Renchler's men overpower him and just as they make plans to kill him the town's leading citizens, with changed hearts and minds, arrive to help their sheriff arrest Renchler and his men.
Of course the acting honours goes to Welles. As the all powerful and brash land baron he just runs away with the movie whenever he's in it. Regrettably though Jeff Chandler is as wooden as ever complete with irritating facial expressions, that camera conscious manner and that affected gait when he walks. But there is some nice playing from a good supporting cast like Martin Carralaga as the old bracero, Paul Fix and William Schallert as members of the town council, John Larch and Leo Gordan as the killers, the attractive Coleen Miller as Renchler's daughter and there's a fine cameo from James Gleason as a guest of the county who sleeps it off every night in Sadler's jail cell. Also of note is the splendid score contributed by Hans Salter and Herman Stein both of whom shamefully go uncredited as was the norm for a Universal picture of the period.
MAN IN THE SHADOW is by no means a great movie but it's a handsomely mounted black & white Cinemascope offering which flows quite comfortably with Arnold keeping a tight rein on the proceedings. So to sum up there are worse ways one could spend 83 minutes.
Seems like shapely actress Colleen Miller appears outside her regular
clothes about as often as in them, as in nightgown and underwear. But
then, the movie posters had to have something provocative to promote.
The premise itself has been around the block more than a few timesa reluctant lawman stands up to local tyrant despite opposition from frightened townspeople. Still, the movie works pretty well up to two points where the screenplay bucklesthe rope dragging and the town turn-around. Neither of these is very believable within context. But then, the film is on a budget and does have to motivate a wrap-up.
I gather producer Zugsmith helped finance Welles' next feature Touch of Evil (1957) in return for appearing here. The part is relatively small, and Welles underplays without the needed malevolence. Seems almost like he's walking through. Nonetheless, it's a solid cast of supporting players, familiar faces from thuggish Leo Gordon to Dragnet's Ben Alexander taking a break from the LAPD. The support works well to provide more color than usual.
Rather sad to see that earnest actor Jeff Chandler again, knowing he died unnecessarily at 42 as result of medical malpractice (a foreign object left inside following an operation, as I recall). He's quite good here as the conflicted sheriff struggling to do his duty.
All in all, it's a decent enough programmer, better than Zugsmith's usual quickie fare, thanks in large part (I expect) to under-rated director Jack Arnold.
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.
Like "Bad Day at Black Rock" this is a modern western, and also someone tries to throw the hero's car off the road. Like "High Noon" it tells the story of a sheriff that goes against the whole town's opinion to face the bad guys. Like "The Man From Laramie" the hero is dragged, but by a pick up truck and not by a horse. Like "On the Waterfront" even though he is badly hurt etc. etc. "Man in the Shadow" is a good film, it grabs your attention. Jeff Chandler is excellent as the sheriff and Orson Welles is great as always. It could be a very good film if it would not be for the fact that specially on the last half you feel you are seeing something that you have seen before.
This is a good "pre-civil rights movement" western, continuing in the tradition of "High Noon" and "Bad Day at Black Rock". Colleen Miller plays Orson Welles daughter, (not his wife as someone posted previously.) Jeff Chandler (who died way too young at 42) is the sheriff and conscience in the film and he does a good job in this role. The fact that the cowboys have beaten a defenseless Chincano to death is something that most citizens in the town would rather forget.Chandler's character and his family are harassed by the murderous and prejudiced cowboys who work for Welles.The climax of this film is hard to watch even today. The director was Jack Arnold,who was great at expressing his opinions in low-budget films,such as "It Came from Outer Space" and "The Tattered Dress."
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."
Intriguing and thrilling semi-Western about a honest marshal called
Sadler has to confront a vicious land baron and his hoodlums . He is
Virgil Ranchler whose ranch is bigger than five European countries .
Violence and fear gripped in a land of the lawless but there appears
marshal Ben Sandler (Jeff Chandler) as the only man in the country
willing to stand up to powerful Virgil Ranchler (Orson Welles who
rewrote sections of the script) . When his ruthless henchmen (John
Larch , Leo Gordon) go to far and kill one of his migrant workmen ,
earnest Ben Sadler suspects Ranchler is behind the cruel death . As the
sheriff goes after him even if it means his job and everyone else's .
However , Sadler gets not support from townsfolk when he attempts to
find justice .
Offbeat semi-Western about an upright marshal taking on a wealthy rancher responsible for immigrant's brutal death . The film packs violence , suspense , drama , thrills , moving set pieces and results to be quite entertaining . It's a medium-low budget film with good actors , technicians , production values and pleasing results . However , some reviewers and journalists told that producer Albert Zugsmith's low budget didn't allow for a single cow to be shown . A good almost-Western of the kind that was already close in the then changing climate of Hollywood , what follows result to be Westerns in which stand out the twilight style , typical of the sixties . There is plenty of intrigue and thriller in the movie ; it continues to thicken to the inevitable final showdown .
It's a stirring thriller with breathtaking confrontation between leading roles , Jeff Chandler and Orson Welles . Jeff Chandler interprets efficiently a marshal responsible for law and order in a cattle town . Orson Welles is terrific as Virgil Renchler , a wealthy man who owns most of the town providing a thriving economy . The role of Virgil Renchler was originally supposed to be played by Robert Middleton ; however the casting agency instead suggested Orson Welles, who badly needed money to pay tax . Orson Welles interpreted for getting financing to shoot his pictures , as he played several peculiar as well as exotic characters such as ¨The Tartari¨ , ¨Saul¨ , ¨Cagliostro¨ , ¨Cesare Borgia¨ and ¨Black rose¨ . Support cast is pretty good such as John Larch , Colleen Miller , Ben Alexander , James Gleason , William Schallert , Royal Dano , Paul Fix and a wasted Barbara Lawrence as wife . Special mention for Leo Gordon , he chomps his way through role of despicable villain , his ordinary character as a cruelly baddie , as he is pretty well , and bears a two-fisted and mocking aspect , subsequently he would play similar characters .
Enjoyable and thrilling musical score by Joseph Gershenson . Evocative cinematography in Black and White Cinemascope by Arthur E Arling . This ¨Enemy in the shadow¨ also titled ¨Pay the devil¨or ¨Seeds of wrath¨ was expertly staged by Jack Arnold who carried out an exciting climax of the picture . Being compellingly directed and resulting to be one of his best forays into the thriller genre . Arnold makes a nice camera work with clever choreography on the showdown , fighting , moving confrontations and suspenseful set pieces . He reigns supreme as one of the greatest filmmakers of 50s science , achieving an important cult popularity with classics as "The Creature from the Black Lagoon," and its follow-up titled "Revenge of the Creature" that was a nice sequel . "Tarantula" was likewise a lot of amusement and of course "The Incredible Shrinking Man" attained his greatest enduring cult popularity , it's a thought-provoking and impressive classic that's lost none of its power throughout the years . Arnold's final two genre entries were the interesting "Monster on the Campus" and the outlandish "The Space Children¨ . In addition to his film work, Arnold also directed episodes of such TV shows .
Often mistaken as a Western, this little ranch-set, (then) modern-day murder tale has ambitious themes, but fails to resolve itself with much of an impact. Orson Welles was seen to possibly his best effect onscreen in 1958 with his masterpiece Touch of Evil and his great, scenery chewing Southern patriarch in The Long, Hot Summer. Here he's barely given anything to work with, and Jeff Chandler's solid work doesn't produce a memorable character. Good atmosphere, interesting potential, but a disappointment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
MAN IN THE SHADOW 1957
This Universal Studio's production is sort of a western updated to 1957. We have Orson Welles as the big land owner, Colleen Miller as his daughter and Jeff Chandler as the local Sheriff. The film is set in the American Southwest.
The film starts on Welles' Golden Empire Ranch. A young Mexican farm hand, Joe Schneider, is dragged out of one of the ranch bunkhouses by two men, John Larch and Leo Gordon. They take Schneider to a nearby shed where they start to work the lad over. It seems that the young man has been over friendly with ranch owner Welles' daughter, Miller. Welles sent the two men to teach him a lesson.
Schneider however is a stronger go than Gordon and Larch expected. A handy pick axe handle soon ends the fight by splitting the lad's skull open. Watching this whole thing from the shed window is, Martin Garralaga. Garralaga is another one of the many Mexican farmhands employed by Welles' ranch. He fades back into the dark and returns to the bunkhouse.
The next morning, Garralaga decides to pay a visit to the law in the local town of Spurline. Spurline is a small one horse town with just a Sheriff, Jeff Chandler and one deputy, Ben Alexander. The town survives on the business it gets from Welles "bigger than some countries" Golden Empire Ranch.
Garralaga tells his story to Chandler and Alexander. Alexander does not believe the "wetback" and urges Chandler to do the same. No point in rocking the boat with Welles without any proof. Chandler, newly elected, tells Alexander the law applies to everyone. He will go out and at least see if the young man is still there.
Welles, who takes security serious, has armed men at the entrance to his property. After Welles has his men let Chandler in, Chandler politely asks about a possible "disturbance" on the ranch the night before involving a Mexican farmhand. "I have hundreds of wetbacks working here. You think I keep track of them all?' "Probably a couple of them got drunk and got in a fight." Welles also broadly hints that if Chandler wishes to keep his job, he best drop the matter. Chandler knows he'll need to dig up more evidence before pushing the matter. Back to town he goes to have a further talk the witness.
Welles had only ordered his thugs to rough up Schneider. But since it ended up in murder, he is as guilty as Larch and Gordon. He calls the two into his office where they come up with a way to end the matter. Gordon takes the body of the slain young man down to an isolated spot on the highway. He dumps the body and then drives over it several times. He then contacts the Sheriff's office. He claims that the lad must have been drunk and wandered out into traffic. Deputy Alexander has no problem taking this story as gospel.
When Welles' daughter, Miller, hears about Schneider's death, she contacts Chandler. Schneider and Miller had become friendly. Miller figures it most likely upset her father. Chandler adds this to the growing list of evidence. He decides to take precautions with his witness, and hides Garralaga at the farm of Royal Dano.
Welles continues to stir the pot as he contacts the town managers, Paul Fix and William Schallert, and threatens to take his ranch business elsewhere. The less than subtle hint, "Get rid of Chandler or else". Welles' men also sabotage Chandler's Police car. Chandler is lucky to escape the wreck with only a few bumps and bruises. Besides the pressure from the town council to lay off the investigation, Chandler's wife, Barbara Lawrence is getting threatening phone calls. Add to all this is that the witness to the murder, Garralaga is himself murdered. This of course just makes the Sheriff all the more determined to solve the case.
Welles now pulls out all the stops and has two of his men, Leo Gordon and Charles Horvath, jump Chandler. They lay a solid beating on the man and then drag him through the town streets from a rope tied to the back of a pickup. The message, Welles is really the man in charge.
Chandler, who has been patched up by the local doc, Harry Harvey, has had more than enough. He arms himself with a shotgun and roars off to confront Welles at his ranch. The townsfolk, shamed by letting Welles walk all over them, arm up and likewise set off for the ranch. Needless to say there is a showdown at the ranch with several of Welles henchmen eating far too much lead than is good for them. Welles is slapped in cuffs and loaded up for a trip to jail.
This one comes off as an upper level b-film, not great, but quite watchable. Welles is good as the old style land baron type. Chandler, is Chandler, he does nothing different here than we've seen in a dozen other films. Colleen Miller is more or less simply eye candy.
The director, Jack Arnold, is best known for a series of great sci-fi films he made in the 1950's. These include, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, TARANTULA and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN. He touched on noir with, THE TATTERED DRESS and OUTSIDE THE LAW. He would end his career helming episodes of THE LOVE BOAT.
Some nice black and white work is supplied by Oscar winning (The Yearling) cinematographer, Arthur E Arling. Arling also received an Oscar nomination for his work on, I'LL CRY TOMORROW.
The following year, Welles would make, TOUCH OF EVIL.
Less Metaphorical, than the Director's Sci-Fi of the Decade, and more
to an Obvious Observation in an Eisenhower Era of Overlooked and
Unspoken Racism. The Post-War Spoils enjoyed by Americans of the
White-Bread variety were not readily Available to People of Color and
This type of Social Criticism was usually not spoken of in "Polite" Company or around the Dinner Table in White-Picket Fence Suburbia. It was "Left" to the Fringe Elements like B-Movies and Lurid Faced Paperbacks.
Socially Conscious Director Jack Arnold, considered one of the Best B-Movie Auteurs teams up with a "Behemoth" of Filmland Orson Welles, who by the Mid-Fifties was fighting for His Life in Hollywood. Out of Favor, Wells was forever Financing His Pictures with "Work for Hire" Acting Gigs, and this was one of them.
He brings to the Movie a Larger than Life Character who literally Dominates the Frame with that Booming Voice and Big Stature. Jeff Chandler is meekly dwarfed by Orson in every Scene as the Sheriff with a Moral Compass Standing Alone among the Cowering Townspeople completely Corrupted by Capitalism represented as the "Golden Empire" Ranch, clouding Their Vision with little effort.
Film-Noir's Edgy influence is present here, but by this Time in Hollywood moved more often from the City to the Country or Suburban Landscapes where Americans were trying to Escape Urban Squalor becoming more Populated with "Sub-Humans", only to find, at least in the Southwest, "Wetbacks" who weren't even Citizens, let alone Caucasian.
Overall, far from being Subtle, this In-Your-Face look at "Trouble in Paradise", combines Genres as it made its "Liberal" Talking Points, and now could be Considered a "Voice in the Wilderness" for the Population that at least Tried to be a Guiding Light to a New Era of Concern yet to be Fulfilled, Sadly, to this Day.
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