The peace-loving owner of a general store, who became a town hero when he luckily killed the leader of a gang of bank robbers, is deserted by the townspeople who fear the threatened return of the vengeful bandits.
Alfred L. Werker
The vicious Hayes clan amble into town on the day Judge Jim Scott is expected to sentence murderer Rudy Hayes to hang. Scott, who doesn't wear a gun, seems unconcerned and businesslike, even when Charlie Hayes makes an explicit death threat against him. But the townsfolk start wondering how much bloodshed one hanging is worth. Complicating factor: the sheriff, Scott's chief ally, is also the secret lover of Scott's fiancee Myra... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Day of the Bad Man" was one of a series of westerns made by Fred MacMurray in the 50s just prior to his embarking upon a series of Disney films and his long running TV series "My Three Sons". The comparisons to "High Noon" (1952) will be inevitable.
Convicted killer Rudy Hayes (Christopher Dark) languishes in jail awaiting sentencing for murder. Into town ride his two sweaty and unshaven brothers Charlie (Robert Middleton) and Howie (Skip Homier). They hook up with Rudy's girl friend Cora (Marie Windsor)and Hayes cousins Jake (Lee Van Cleef) and Monte (Chris Alcaide). Opposing them are square jawed righteous Judge Jim Scott (MacMurray) and the pompous Sheriff Wiley (John Ericson).
A sub-plot involves a love triangle consisting of Scott, Wiley and the lovely Myra Owens (Joan Weldon).
The Hayes try to intimidate the towns folk into pressuring the Judge to impose a lighter sentence of banishment rather than hanging on Rudy. Of course MacMurray will not be intimidated and does the right thing according to law. This ultimately leads to the inevitable showdown with MacMurray forced to face the baddies alone. (Sound familiar?).
MacMurray is stern faced and serious as the Judge. Middleton is excellent as the sneering chief villain, a part he perfected. Homier does his hot-headed kid routine yet again. Van Cleef has little to do except sneer. Weldon plays the virginal good girl in typical 50s one dimensional style. Windsor almost steals the film as bad girl Cora.
Rounding out the cast are Universal's usual cast of familiar faces. Edgar Buchanan plays Sam, MacMurray's friend and ally, Don Haggerty, the Deputy Sheriff, and Robert Foulk, Ann Doran, Eduard Franz, Eddy Waller, I. Stanford Jolley, Kenneth MacDonald, Hank Patterson and Tom London as various towns folk. And watch for a very young Paul Peterson as one of the kids on the street.
An average western saved by its superior cast.
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