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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.
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.
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.
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."
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 .
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."
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.
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.
*** 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."
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