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"Escort West" takes place in Nevada, a few years after the Civil War has ended. Victor Mature plays Ben Lassiter, a widowed ex-Confederate soldier travelling West with his 10 year old daughter Abbey (Reba Waters). Deadly Indian warriors named the Modocs are on the prowl, and Ben realizes that they have caused death and destruction in a way station that he had very recently visited. He gathers together the survivors: the bitchy, grudge carrying Martha Drury (Faith Domergue) and her much nicer sister, Beth (Elaine Stewart), and amiable old sutler Nelson Walker (Rex Ingram). He promises to stay with them as they make their dangerous trek through hostile territory.
There's nothing particularly distinguished about "Escort West", but it's still a solid and engaging movie of this type. An uncredited John Wayne was one of the producers. Director Francis D. Lyon creates some scenes of genuine suspense, and the action is likewise decently executed. This is all photographed in atmospheric, black & white widescreen by William H. Clothier. The antagonists are not exactly a faceless bunch, but they're a fairly scary group of men: relentless, unspeaking, unemotional, one-dimensional killers. The lovely music score is courtesy of composer Henry Vars.
The cast is full of familiar faces and excellent right down the line. Mature is just the kind of hero you want in this sort of thing: kind, compassionate, but tough and dependable. Beautiful women Stewart and Domergue are effective, although some might find Domergues' character a bit tough to take. Noah Beery Jr., John Hubbard, Harry Carey Jr., Slim Pickens, William Ching, Ken Curtis, Claire Du Brey, and Syd Saylor co-star. Also in the supporting cast is the great screen heavy Leo Gordon, who co-wrote the screenplay with Fred Hartsook. Child actress Waters is appealing without becoming overly saccharine.
This is a good, diverting story told in fairly trim fashion and running a very reasonable 77 minutes long.
Seven out of 10.
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