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|Index||12 reviews in total|
34 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Fair Enough Thriller., 20 September 2011
Author: jpdoherty from Ireland
*** 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.
21 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Local Tyranny, 31 August 2006
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
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.
10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Welles and Zugsmith-- The Original Odd Couple, 19 October 2010
Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA
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.
12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Welles underused in atmospheric but slight thriller, 3 January 2001
Author: Fred Sliman (fs3) from United States
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.
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
man in the shadows, 5 June 2006
Author: pdmh48 from atlanta
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."
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
" Just how much is a man's life worth in dollars and sense? ", 25 April 2011
Author: thinker1691 from USA
The law in the nineteen fifties was straight forward enough, if you happen to be white. Minorities on the other hand were lucky if ever there were men behind the badge with the willingness to stand up to wealthy, powerful men. This 1950's film was directed by Jack Arnold and written by Gene L.Coon. It depicts the story of Ben Sadler (Jeff Chandler) the town's sheriff, who is informed of the death of Jesus Cisneros (Martin Garralaga), an immigrant worker or 'Bracero' who is murdered by two ranch hands. From the moment the sheriff begins his investigation into the murder, he is besieged by local town's people of the danger of taking on Mr. Virgil Renchler (Orsen Wells) the most powerful man in the state. Still, Sadler is determined to bring the two men to justice. John Larch, Royal Dano, Paul Fix, Leo Gordon and William Schallert are among the most notable actors who give life to this otherwise Black and white picture. The acting is good and so too is the dark drama, which allows the movie to be interesting. Chandler gives a powerful performance and shows why he became a popular staple of the era. ****
7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Black Rock, Laramie, High Noon and On the Waterfront., 7 June 2005
Author: tmwest from S. Paulo, Brazil
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.
"Mud don't care who it splashes on.", 19 December 2011
Author: classicsoncall from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
No question this isn't a great film, but I have to say it had me hooked
from the outset. I haven't seen Jeff Chandler in much before, but I got
into his earnest portrayal of a small town sheriff out to do the right
thing, even if it meant bucking up against the local town boss and
riling the citizens of Spurline. This had the feel of 'Dragnet'
crossing paths with 'Wanted:Dead or Alive', and having Orson Welles on
hand was just a bit of icing on the cake.
One thing for sure, this picture is a treasure trove of character actors that will have you grasping for names because you've seen them so many times before (at least for old timers like me who grew up on TV fare of the Fifties and Sixties). In no particular order, you've got Paul Fix, John Larch, Leo Gordon, Mort Mills, William Schallert and Royal Dano. Rocco looked familiar too though I couldn't readily place him. TV Westerns of the era would pop one of these guys into a story one at a time, but having them all together in one place is a neat trip down memory lane.
No sense in beating a dead horse regarding the story as other reviewers have done so nicely. The payoff here is having the local town folk arrive at the final showdown just in the nick of time since no way it was going to be a fair fight. In that respect, the picture does a one eighty against one of my all time favorites, "High Noon". The look on Orson Welles' face when he realizes the jig is up is just priceless, especially since daughter Skippy (Colleen Miller) earlier vowed she would see him pay for his ruthlessness. Wait a minute - Skippy? Who came up with that one?
Interesting side note - who would ever have guessed back in 1957 that a half century later, you could reverse the Royal Dano character's name and come up with an American Idol superstar. There's a trivia question you could have some fun with.
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Principled Sheriff Confronts Mister Big., 15 October 2010
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not a bad B Western set in the modern little town of Spur Branch (or
whatever it is). Jeff Chandler is the sheriff but the town is ruled by
Mister Big -- Orson Welles, growing ever bigger -- from his ranch, The
Golden Empire. Welles has a few hundred braceros working for him. He
himself is surrounded by goons of varying degrees of terpitude. There
is no question of who makes the rules in Larkspur. It isn't Chandler,
sitting with his feet on his desk.
Welles has a comely daughter, Colleen Miller. She doesn't have much of a part to play in the movie, except that she sets the plot in motion by dating one of the Mexican laborers and infuriating her father, who has the young man beaten to death. The director, Jack Arnold, who made some fine science fiction movies, is gracious enough at least to give us a glimpse of Colleen Miller in her lingerie. She looks better than a giant tarantula although her acting is at about the same level.
Anyway, an old Mexican shuffles into Sheriff Chandler's office with a tale of having seen Miller's boyfriend get his skull split by an axe handle (in a particularly vivid piece of writing). Chandler treats him as a nuisance. There may be something to the story but why stir things up? With the exception of Mount Spur's Italian barber, Santoro, the rest of the town concurs. These Beaners can never be trusted.
But when the old man who reported the incident ALSO turns up dead, Chandler becomes a bit more animated. What in the world is going on in Spurmont? Some shenanigans out at the ranch? Chandler is visited by the town leaders who urge him to ignore the whole mess. If he alienates The Golden Empire, Welles will just take his business elsewhere and Spurville will suffer a decline in economic advantages.
Faced with insults from Welles, threats from his henchmen, the disapprobation of the public, and slavering growls from an unfriendly German shepherd, does Chandler relent? Are you kidding? This kind of movie can end in only one of two ways: the sheriff takes on the fight alone and wins ("High Noon") or he's rendered helpless by the miscreants and the town finally finds its spiritus and bands together to rescue him. One of these solutions applies here.
It's not badly done. By that, I mean that it deals with racism, of course, but it doesn't hit us over the head with it. There is only one preachy speech by Chandler and it's mercifully brief. But the movie has its weaknesses too. The general level of the performances is poor. The townsmen have little motive for their determined change of heart at the end. Welles loves his daughter but, that aside, the evil guys are pure evil, as in a child's cartoon.
I believe the plot itself is recycled. Maybe it's been recycled several times before. Mister Big on his ranch on the outskirts of Spur Valley calling the shots until one of the citizens gets all noble. The racial overtones aren't all that common, although if anyone wants to see a better-done example, he might check out "Bad Day at Black Rock."
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The Saga Of The Dumb Cowboys, 12 May 2005
Author: cutterccbaxter from minneapolis, minnesota, on the planet Earth
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Orson Welles owns a ranch that as he puts it, "is larger than a lot of countries in Europe." He also has the dumbest cowboys in Texas working for him. The film opens with two of them beating, Juan, one of the ranch's Mexican cow-hands to death. They were supposed to simply beat-up Juan, so that he would stop hanging out with Orson's daughter. The crime is witnessed by one of Juan's friends who reports it to the Sheriff played by Jeff Chandler. Chandler's deputy tells him not to even bother investigating the matter, but Chandler is determined to follow through on the case. Had the dumb cowboys simply gone out in the middle of Orson's enormous ranch and buried Juan it would have been difficult for even the conscientious Chandler to probe the alleged murder without a body. But one of the dumb cowboys brings in Juan's body claiming he accidentally ran over him in his truck. As Chandler digs into the case nobody in town gives him any support except for the guy who cuts his hair. In the one scene where we meet Chandler's wife even she says he should just forget it because it is not good for the town. The cowboys continue to commit a series of stupid acts making it pretty obvious that they are guilty of murder. After each stupid act is reported to Orson, he seems to show a little exasperation for being saddled in such a ridiculous story. Overall he seems rather indifferent to the movie. Chandler gives a lot of agonizing line readings, and his stunt double is thoroughly abused by the conclusion of the picture.
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