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Sammy Davis Jr.,
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Escort West is directed by Francis D. Lyon and adapted to screenplay by Leo Gordon and Fred Hartsook from a story by Steven Hayes. It stars Victor Mature, Elaine Stewart, Faith Domergue, Reba Waters, Noah Beery Jr., Leo Gordon, Rex Ingram, John Hubbard, Harry Carey Jr. and Slim Pickens. Music is by Henry Vars and CinemaScope cinematography by William H. Clothier.
Set in Nevada 1865 at the end of The Civil War, Escort West follows ex- Confederate soldier Ben Lassiter (Mature) as he travels West with his young daughter Abbey (Waters). Still meeting hostile reactions from Union cavalry officers and supporters in the area, things take a dramatic turn when Ben and Abbey happen upon the aftermath of a Modoc Indian attack that has left a troop of Union cavalrymen dead. However, there are three survivors, sisters Beth (Stewart) and Martha (Domergue), and injured Nelson Walker (Ingram). The Lassiter's try to escort the survivors to safety, but with the Modocs and rouge Union cavalrymen interested in a payroll in Ben's possession a constant threat out in the terrain, it's going to be tough.
It's pretty predictable in formula, complete with an uninteresting burgeoning romance, but it's a film that's never dull and it's always compelling as a character driven travelogue. The left over attitudes born out by the war add some spice into the narrative, with Domergue portraying a bile strewn bitch from hell and Mature a contemplative father of substance, and there are a good number of action sequences that are thrillingly executed. Cast performances are strong enough for the material, where it's nice to see Mature and Waters' father and daughter relationship play out as tender and believable, and ace cinematographer Clothier's Scope photography is beautiful and keeps the picture consistently airy. 6.5/10
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